I loathe writing posts on the maturation and mindfulness that I’ve acquired in recent years. The reason for this is that I do not want the reader to frame these posts under the romanticized light of redemption. When I think of redemption, I think of love stories where someone cleans up their act in order to be welcomed back with open arms by a paramour. Or, I think about the mythical hero of the day, throwing away their background and the odds in order to heroically save those around him. These are tired tropes. I would propose that the antisocial is beyond redemption but not necessarily for the reasons you may think.
How many victims are created by the thought that neuroplasticity is out of reach for some? Restated, just how many people with personality disorders or mental illness succumb to caricature simply because they are told that they cannot improve? Anyone that has followed my journey these past four and some years should know how I feel on this subject. Sometimes, the best cure is simply to be told that one exists, and that it is worth fighting for.
These are fascinating times. Competing, and equally extreme, groups are vying for our heartstrings and lives are literally on the line in their self-inflicted wars. I propose that such animosity and blind hatred is born from a surplus of affective empathy and a dearth of cognitive empathy. As a empathetically blind observer, I have no dog in the fight between the extremists on the left and those on the right, except inasmuch it may ultimately affect me if either side should prevail. However, let’s explore in particular the atrophy of (cognitive) empathy that is fostering this current environment of dehumanization and violence.
There is a fine line between reality and caricature. If we think of reality as being the pivot point of a disorder and caricature as lying too far on either pole away from that pivot, then the picture should be clear. To lie to the left is to be cured; to lie to the right is to be lost forever in chaos. While I suspect there is some sort of Gaussian distribution to disorder, there must be some minimum criteria for disorder, and there must be a point where the individual crosses the borderlands from humanity into wanton destructionist. I’m skeptical of self-actualized beings claiming to be at these poles, for either they would be “normal” or not long for a free life in this realm of existence. And if I, a self-actualized but disordered individual, am dubious of the poles of disorder, then you should be as well.
I maintain that my current trajectory in life is not one of redemption. Redemption would imply that I have atoned for my sins of the past and am immune from their temptations in the future. My latent state will always be antisocial; that is what I am at the atomic level. But, as with chemistry, different arrangements of atoms result in different properties even if the atom, at its core, is of property ‘X’. No, my current trajectory is one of reprogramming. My unquiet mind will always be distraught with the internal monologue detailing the differences between the conscious and subconscious as well as the intentional versus the automatic. No matter how much I want to know whether I am conscious in my desires to be a better person these days, I must concede that there are certain mechanisms that are beyond my control. I am a subject of my own psychological experiment. As I consciously strive toward prosocial behaviors, my subconscious begins to morph. As the subconscious evolves, its call overwhelms the conscious mind. I am left with a Mobius Strip of a person, with no clear beginning or end. For a being without identity, this is especially distressing and terrifying. At some point, I have to let go. At some point, I have to concede that there is very real reprogramming that was once under my control but is no longer.