The image in the mirror is distorted. I can vaguely make out that the reflection before me is, in fact, me. I have changed in many ways since I began psychotherapy four years ago. The creature that only went to session as a means of placating her husband has grown into one that actively seeks ways to better herself. What started as a journey to understand one’s depression turned into much more, and the bigger picture had to be revealed for any progress on any front (intrapersonal or interpersonal) to be had. All of that said, there are demons that cannot be shaken and all progress is relative. The only cure-all is the realization that the individual can ultimately create change. All of us have the capacity to change, though it would be a lie to state that we can expect total change in any form.
Recently, I thought that the professional relationship between my therapist and I was on the brink.
We may know the story of “Grizzly Man,” a man, Timothy Treadwell, that took care of wild Grizzlies in the wilds of Alaska. He took care of many grizzlies for many years but was eventually eaten whole by those he took care of. The reader may surmise where I am going with this.
My therapist confided that she has tried to ship me out on several occasions but could never find anyone willing to work with a psychopath. Neither part of that revelation surprises me. Saddens me, but does not surprise me. I’ve been preoccupied with my position on the spectrum of morality and it was my therapist that tipped off the answer – one that neither of us were especially prepared to accept.
I’ve had my share of therapists over the years. I’m convinced that many of them merely listened to me prattle on without offering any sort of educational guidance. As such, I was deeply distrustful with my current therapist at first. I wasn’t in her office by choice; my ex-husband forced me into therapy as our marriage was nearing the point of no return. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I told myself. “So what if I drink excessively, ruin interpersonal relationships, have no self-identity, etc.” I didn’t see any flaws in myself even though the warning bells were going off in my head regarding my place in the world. I suspect that most antisocials and most psychopaths cringe at the idea of therapy. “Things are going well enough,” we tell ourselves. Are they?
When 77% of psychopaths are imprisoned and the remainder tend to be whirlwinds of destruction, it’s hard to say with a straight face that things are truly fine. Eventually our ways will catch up with us, we can either choose to flail about and delay the inevitable, or we can seek assistance from those trained in the art of psychology. It’s up to us as individuals.
Readers will often ask me about the diagnostic process as it relates to psychopathy. I must reiterate that my journey is abnormal; I was given the Psychopathy Checklist – Revised outside of the walls of a prison. In order to receive my diagnosis of ASPD and a confirmation of psychopathy, the stars had to align just right. I needed a therapist that was willing to challenge the way that I viewed the world and myself and my own dumb luck to achieve such a step in finding out what lies behind my mask.
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ before. When it comes to studying the psyche this approach could not be more dangerous. It would be ludicrous to claim that depression is incurable or that it can be cured with one silver bullet, yes? It would be considered tactless to write off all schizophrenics as untreatable. Yet, the psychopath is deemed incurable and untreatable. The mental health professionals that are sworn to help those that seek their aid tend to refer clients with antisocial disorders to other professionals who then do the same thing until these clients are exhausted. The view that the antisocial is untreatable is ubiquitous. And, this has no reason to change. Before we dive in, let me note that I am playing a bit fast and loose with the terms ‘cure’ and ‘treat’ with respect to the psychopath or otherwise antisocial. The antisocial most likely does not want to be cured, but she may wish to control her disorder rather than it control her.