Tag Archives: diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders

random- I may be a sociopath, but I’m not a killer…

Each morning as I awake, I spend a few moments working strategies for the many battles I will enter during the day. I have been at constant war with myself for as long as I can remember. Though the battles are waged internally, the effects are very visible. The battle between my id and superego is an ongoing constant, leaving me in search of peace for a much ravaged soul.  The battle with my body has been in oscillation between varying extremes, leaving me constantly seeking the best way to balance my health. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve played both sides of this war. My diet (or lack thereof) and exercising habits fluctuate depending on what stress I feel is tantamount to my body’s needs. Sometimes the treadmill will do it; other times a beer hits the spot. My decision making skills are sub par, though I am a great lover of knowledge and its applications. My ability to see past myself to the greater picture comes and goes-sometimes I pull from the philosophies of Ghandi, while other times Mae West seems more appropriate. I used to say that I had an emotional Rolodex, a term used in an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent to describe the behavior of a sociopath.  I often wonder if I am indeed one of these people, and according to Hervey Cleckley’s 16 key behavioral statistics to identify the personality defect, I am.

While no clinical diagnosis for me is on record, the descriptions of antisocial personality disorder (the official classification for sociopathy by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM), fit me to a T, which brought me not great alarm, but relief. The first step, after all, is admitting you have a problem. So why, then, was I so terrified before of the truth? The stigma. Sociopaths tend to be associated with serial killers, violent con artists, torturers, etc. I did not feel I was any of those things, nor had I exhibited any of those traits, so I held on to the belief that I was just being my overly excited self, emotionally ill-adept at conquering the world as we see it. Moreover, I had no intention of becoming violent, torturous or murderous, so it couldn’t be me. More research. And I discovered that 1% of adults over 18 have the condition. 1%. Meaning that of the 600+ Facebook “friends” that I had, at least 6 of them could possibly be considered sociopaths. Doing the math, I realized quite easily that none of the people I knew were murderers, torturers or con-men (to my knowledge), so there had to be some other logic behind the stigma. I soon realized that I was being sucked back into my philosophy course, reviewing conditional statements. All serial killers are murderers. All serial killers are sociopaths. Therefore all sociopaths are murderers. See the fallacy? I began to question many fallacies I’d been presented with over the years, only to realize that significant portions of my life, and the lives of those around me, were predicated on fallacies. Which brought me to the question: Is sociopathy a genetic condition, or a result of environmental fallacies that cannot be fully processed by the mind?

Sociopaths are inherently selfish. The world tells us that selfishness is bad. So sociopaths are bad. But the world also inundates us with ways to make ourselves better individually. To promote ourselves past our peers. To compete vigorously and with complete disregard of our competitors, who happen to be the rest of the world. Selfishness. So could it be that sociopaths, those with antisocial personality disorder, are just taking their secular training to new levels? Or is it that they are unable to suppress the selfishness we’ve all been conditioned to exhibit. I began to think that sociopathy is more closely related to an addiction than to incorrect mental programming. Alcoholism of the mind. Society tells us there is nothing wrong with drinking, even though medical research demonstrates the destructive nature of alcohol with ease (with the exception of red wine, apparently). Alcohol is often a centerpiece of frivolity, an indicator that “A good time was had by all”. Alcoholism takes that inhibition to a detrimental extreme, tearing the person down internally and externally and hurting those around them. Remove alcohol, insert selfishness. Everyone at some point in time has advised someone or been advised to be a little selfish. Splurge on yourself. Treat yourself. A little selfishness is not bad. Extreme selfishness, well, that puts you in the cute coat that buckles only in the back.

So how does that reflect on our current social treatment of individuals with antisocial personality disorder? To me it says the approach may be a little off base. I’ve never seen adverts for Sociopath Anonymous meetings, no sponsorship or special chips for going one month without manipulating the hell out of a situation for personal advantage. Perhaps the mental health community could research such an approach. Til then, I suppose there will be more me’s. More people incessantly Googling “10 signs you might be dating a sociopath” and rating themselves. I suppose there will come a time when a community is born, the problem is embraced and studied, the world begins to look at itself differently…or, as seen with alcohol, the world will find more ways for us to be selfish. I propose for the 99% to mull over it a while and get back to us. Don’t worry, we’ll be waiting, probably battling it out in our minds between plotting our next manipulation and doing the good that seems to come so easily to the rest of the world. God speed to us all.