There was a time in my life, not too long ago, that I was convinced I was a psychopath. Psychopath, sociopath, person with anti-social personality disorder, whatever. My favorite label was psychopath, though. I’m really not sure what brought this thinking on, though I will say that these thoughts began shortly after I used PCP for the first time, and continued until a couple months after I stopped using.
I know that I had a thought that something must be wrong with me for several reasons: 1) I didn’t care about things people talked about, especially when it was about their personal life or families. 2) I believed that I did not feel guilt or remorse. 3) In my most comfortable state, it appeared to me that I was completely lacking facial expressions or normal emotions and they had to be forced. 4) I did not find things funny, and had to make myself laugh.
When I put all that together, I thought, “Gee, maybe I’m a psychopath!” and started researching it. I read all the signs and symptoms of a psychopath and sociopath. In my research I couldn’t tell a difference between the two, but I was convinced that was me!
According to Wikipedia, “the DSM-IV defines anti-social personality disorder as:
A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
- deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
- impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead;
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another;
B) The individual is at least age 18 years.
C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.”
Now, looking back at all of this, I do NOT think I have anti-social personality disorder and I do NOT think I’m a psychopath or sociopath. I sure believed it a couple years ago, though. I even went into a therapy session with a therapist I had never met, told her I was a psychopath, and told her that by the time I was finished speaking, she would be dying to write a book about me. When she didn’t jump at the opportunity, I decided not to return.
So, let’s go through the list: 1) Failure to conform to social norms… CHECK! During this time I was stealing left and right. I would walk into a store with the sole desire to steal something, just to show that I could. It got to the point (after I realized how completely messed up that was) that I had to stop bringing my purse into stores because the stealing had become a compulsion. I craved it. I couldn’t NOT take something. It was so easy! My thought at the time was that if the stores didn’t want people to steal from them, they shouldn’t make it so easy. I wouldn’t stop at stealing from stores and “big businesses”, either. I would steal from co-workers. I would steal from customers. Any chance I got, I would steal. If a person didn’t want their wallet stolen, don’t be so stupid as to leave it out in the open!!
2) Deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying… CHECK! Or, at least that’s what I told myself at the time. I would tell myself that I would lie just to lie. Looking back, I really don’t think that’s accurate. I would lie on occasion to save my ass, but not for the sole purpose of lying. It got to the point where I MADE myself lie just so I could continue to tell myself that this fit me.
3) Impulsiveness… CHECK! I never planned things, I just kinda went with it. At least that’s what I told myself to help cement the “fact” that I was a psychopath. In reality, I was too busy drinking to plan anything. And when something would come up, I would go for it if it interested me. I think this would fit a lot of people, though.
4) Irritability and aggressiveness… CHECK! Now, I ABSOLUTELY was irritable and aggressive, not to the point that I would start physical fights, though. I WANTED to, but I never actually did it. Looking back now, I don’t think I ever really fit in this category. I think my irritability and overall bad attitude was more from my borderline personality disorder and not knowing how to deal with things than anything else.
5) Reckless disregard for safety… CHECK! I was a very irresponsible driver for a while. I would tailgate, speed, whip around corners. I basically did not care what happened to me. Or to anyone else, for that matter. I drove under the influence of drugs and alcohol, sure that I was “that good” and able to handle my vehicle.
6) Consistent irresponsibility… CHECK! This one is talking about meeting your employment and financial obligations. I’m off and on about being responsible at work. Sometimes I’m the perfect employee, and sometimes I miss work because I am too drunk, or I come in hung over. Now, let me just say that since I started working at this position in January, this has not happened. Just wanted to throw that in there. I also most definitely, at the time anyway, was unable or unwilling to fulfill my financial obligations. I would not pay bills. I would borrow money from friends with no intention of paying it back.
7) Lack of remorse… CHECK! Or, at least, that’s what I thought. I think what happened is not that I didn’t feel guilty, I think I was just numb to ALL feelings expect for anger and anxiety. I didn’t care about what people thought, or how I hurt them. I do now. I feel guilt all the time for how I hurt people.
All in all, I don’t think I’m a psychopath anymore. After spending some time researching BPD, I fully believe that all the “symptoms” I thought I was experiencing could be attributed to that. I went really deep into the whole psychopath mentality, though. I purchased a small black notebook and started writing down my thoughts and feelings. And my plans. I had detailed plans on all the different ways I was going to drive to Virginia and kill my birth family. I had detailed plans on how I was going to kill my husband. I detailed ways to poison children, just to see what would happen.
Jay has been telling me for a while that I am an excellent student. I think I have anti-social personality disorder, so I research it and make my new mission being the best psychopath I can be. I think I have some physical ailment, and the same thing happens. I really think this may just be my BPD, searching out an identity. I have done this all my life: Got an idea in my head, and turned it into my obsession.
I no longer think I’m a psychopath (for the record, neither does my therapist). I think I was just so confused and wrapped up in my emotions, that I didn’t know what to think. I felt like I didn’t have an identity, and no real emotions. I felt flat. I felt empty. I didn’t care about people. I didn’t care about myself. I’m glad that I’m not a psychopath. I think that diagnosis may be much more interesting than borderline personality disorder, but at least there is hope for BPD. Not much can be done for those with anti-social personality disorder because they see nothing is wrong, and they do not see a need to change. I most DEFINITELY see that something is wrong with me. I KNOW that I need to change. I’m so thankful that I am able to be treated with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. At least for now. That may change. More to come!