Skepticism and Revision – Why Antisocial Diagnoses Should Be Challenged

The psychopath is only as “true” as the clinician’s skill in diagnosing.  Diagnosis of inexact conditions via inexact science should always be taken with a grain of salt.  There is always the possibility that a false positive was recorded.  Now, if sufficient information is available to the professionals giving out diagnoses, the likelihood of false positives is lessened, but I would argue they can never be truly ruled out.  I am a skeptic by nature and I am deeply skeptical of anything held as absolute truth.  I would be lying if I said that in the past 18 months that I have not challenged the PCL-R results of the assessment given to me.  I challenge this not because I am weary of being labeled a psychopath, but because truth ultimately is more important than any diagnosis that I could receive.  I would rather know certainty even if that is a blurred image than to see clearly an image that does not represent reality.  That said, I have been unable to justify an abandonment of the name given to me by the one who has seen me no less than once a week for the past 3+ years.

A healthy dose of skepticism is important for many reasons.  It is important as a means for asserting one’s individuality when faced with a diagnosis that can often seem to translate the self into parody.  In addition it is an intellectual exercise for reaffirming the true reason for diagnosis: a better understanding of self and, if applicable, a vehicle for learning ways to reduce the inconveniences the condition places upon the individual.  A psychopath tends to have an extremely flimsy identity given his chameleon like nature as well as the reality of the condition.  By challenging and revising the understanding of the personalities we hold apparent to truth, we can better understand our own mechanisms and our standing in the world.  By realizing where we falter, we psychopaths can attempt to work on those things that hold us back, such as our impulsivity or our inability to maintain realistic goals for our lives.  This, however, applies not just to the psychopath, but to anyone diagnosed, or assessed, as having any mental condition.

Ultimately, this has to be the true reason for any diagnosis to be given.  Being Borderline, Avoidant, or even a psychopath only carries as much weight as that which the individual is willing to carry in order to improve their lives.  Whether the psychopath chooses to hone his skills as a result or seek a more prosocial path (or both, if done right) is up to him as an individual.  Any proclamation of an atypical mind must be made with a purpose at hand.  If one is simply attaching to a label or diagnosis because it “feels right” and for no other reason, then they miss the true power that those diagnoses convey.  To be a psychopath, in particular, is to wear a medal of dishonor.  To belong to such an unholy circle demands no less than the individual’s commitment to self-preservation and understanding.

A writer revises her work many times before finishing her work.  The individual seeking to understand their own psyche and personality must do the same.  They must challenge what they hold to be true about themselves and that which others assume to be true as well.  I’m not certain that my occasional questioning of the PCL-R results are worth anything constructive at this point.  I’ve done more than my fair share of research and have a better grasp of the inner workings of my personality.  I know what I need to do in order to succeed in society and on a personal level.  Every time I question, however, I learn something that I did not before.  Either something is reaffirmed or I find a few more dots to connect.  If I were simply willing to accept the diagnosis without complaint, I would not enjoy these benefits. I may be a psychopath, but I wish to understand how that fits into the larger picture that is my personality.

To those that simply want to be a psychopath in order to fit in to certain crowds, you are doing yourselves a great disfavor.  Rarely is respect gained through unfounded identification with any demographic.  Worse yet, when it comes to the realm of the mind, you lose the greatest gifts of the diagnostic process:  understanding, revision, and clarification.  If you gravitate toward a label, be it psychopath or not, simply because you think it correct or another confers it, you lose the ability to learn of the richness in your own mind.  If there is no understanding that is gained, then what is the point?  The psychopath, with his weak identity, deserves nothing less.


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