Monday, January 28, 2013

Successful and sociopathic

I thought this NY Times op ed, "Successful and Schizophrenic," had some interesting parallels. It tells the story of a law professor who was diagnosed as schizophrenic (I hope I'm doing the math right) in her early 20s. She was basically told that she would be living in a group home for the rest of her life. And she was actually hospitalized multiple times (apparently), but after her last stint at age 28 she was told that maybe she could get a job as a cashier making change part time. Instead she became a law professor and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. Is she still schizophrenic?


Although I fought my diagnosis for many years, I came to accept that I have schizophrenia and will be in treatment the rest of my life. Indeed, excellent psychoanalytic treatment and medication have been critical to my success. What I refused to accept was my prognosis.

Conventional psychiatric thinking and its diagnostic categories say that people like me don’t exist. Either I don’t have schizophrenia (please tell that to the delusions crowding my mind), or I couldn’t have accomplished what I have (please tell that to [University of Southern California]’s committee on faculty affairs). But I do, and I have. And I have undertaken research with colleagues at U.S.C. and U.C.L.A. to show that I am not alone. There are others with schizophrenia and such active symptoms as delusions and hallucinations who have significant academic and professional achievements.


There were also really helpful suggestions about how each person came up with coping mechanisms specific to their individual issues:


How had these people with schizophrenia managed to succeed in their studies and at such high-level jobs? We learned that, in addition to medication and therapy, all the participants had developed techniques to keep their schizophrenia at bay. For some, these techniques were cognitive. An educator with a master’s degree said he had learned to face his hallucinations and ask, “What’s the evidence for that? Or is it just a perception problem?” Another participant said, “I hear derogatory voices all the time. ... You just gotta blow them off.”

Part of vigilance about symptoms was “identifying triggers” to “prevent a fuller blown experience of symptoms,” said a participant who works as a coordinator at a nonprofit group. For instance, if being with people in close quarters for too long can set off symptoms, build in some alone time when you travel with friends.

Other techniques that our participants cited included controlling sensory inputs. For some, this meant keeping their living space simple (bare walls, no TV, only quiet music), while for others, it meant distracting music. “I’ll listen to loud music if I don’t want to hear things,” said a participant who is a certified nurse’s assistant. Still others mentioned exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and getting enough sleep. A belief in God and prayer also played a role for some.

Sound familiar to anyone? The advice to identify and avoid triggers by explicitly structuring your life to avoid or minimize them? Exercise and diet? Sleep and sensory inputs? Religion (which always what I fall back on when my brain is sick)?

She goes on to talk about how some people pour themselves into a rewarding career. She warns about the conflation of symptoms and diagnosis:


Far too often, the conventional psychiatric approach to mental illness is to see clusters of symptoms that characterize people. Accordingly, many psychiatrists hold the view that treating symptoms with medication is treating mental illness. But this fails to take into account individuals’ strengths and capabilities, leading mental health professionals to underestimate what their patients can hope to achieve in the world.


She mentions that some people with autism managed their symptoms, sometimes to the point of eliminating them. She then closes with these thoughts that could apply equally well to sociopathy:

I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna about schizophrenia; mental illness imposes real limitations, and it’s important not to romanticize it. We can’t all be Nobel laureates like John Nash of the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” But the seeds of creative thinking may sometimes be found in mental illness, and people underestimate the power of the human brain to adapt and to create. 

An approach that looks for individual strengths, in addition to considering symptoms, could help dispel the pessimism surrounding mental illness. Finding “the wellness within the illness,” as one person with schizophrenia said, should be a therapeutic goal. . . . They should encourage patients to find their own repertory of techniques to manage their symptoms and aim for a quality of life as they define it. 

58 comments:

  1. I've reached the point where I'd like to get some help for my impulsive traits. I'm' saying "impulsive" rather than "psychopathic" because I'd like to focus on what I see as the problem.

    You could say that I'm a high-functioning psychopath. I'm Machiavellian, narcissistic and psychopathic.

    I've apparently got enough impulse control (and intelligence) to get me what I need. But I sense that there's a gap. I'm missing something.

    In the past, I wouldn't have done this because I was too proud. I wasn't able to admit that I was behaving "badly" or had a problem. And I was young enough that I was substantially getting what I wanted.

    Now that I'm middle aged, that isn't happening. Perhaps because I'm not getting what I want, I can see I've behaved anti-socially, and it has cost me. E.g. I'm heading into old age, and no matter how optimistic I'd like to be, it is clear that it is going to get harder and harder to have sex with women in their twenties. And eventually I will die, no matter how much I fight it.

    Have any commenters, motivated by the same sense of "oh shit I'm screwed" sought help? How'd it go?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear you, Anon. I think you will get some good comments!

      Delete
    2. So, you're asking for advices to change parts of your antisocial behaviour in order to make it easier to get what you want? K.

      What helped me was to define, what kind of situations triggered my antisocial behaviour. Then i picked one relativly specific scenario, thats applyable on most circumstances( like a constellation of power), and focussed on it.
      this helps making a calculated decision on sudden and unpredictable situations, which is impulse control. (also it helps you recognizing such situations earlier)
      if that works, go on to your next scenario. changing the own behaviour is really hard, and will only work right if you do it step by step, at least that is how it works for me.

      Delete
    3. Hi anonymous 3:03

      I'm having mid-life crisis and "oh shit, where did I/the time go" after some time to realize what I am ad how I've operated for most of my life.

      Now I have to crawl out as a young person in middle age. It is daunting because of habits formed and methods used over and over again, which are outdated. I need to change to fit my seemingly new self.

      I am looking forward to hearing how you process what people say here. Please stay for a while.

      Delete
    4. just get a bich of a woman that'll kick your ass if you are not a good boy

      Delete
    5. MyMind - thanks very much.

      What you say sounds so obvious in retrospect.

      As you probably know, just sitting down and thinking about this stuff is very difficult for me, which is the basic problem.

      Delete
    6. You're welcome. i may have another advice for your basic problem:

      it's always hard to think about your own psych, the easiest way, which i found at least, is to take learning methods and systems from other areas of life. i used to play alot of video games(mostly competetive ones), and i learned many training techniques. so my conclusion was to apply this learning methods onto real life. basically thats just what i did with the first advice i gave you.
      also, when you're more experienced, it's really nice to take the logical cores of different learning techniques, and combine them.

      Delete
    7. @anon 2:26

      if you need more (detailed)advices or input, i'd like to make you an offer: if you want to, you can hit me up in skype/fb etc., just say it.

      Delete
    8. Don't give out your e mail or any personal info on here. Only do that when you trust a particular person and give it to M.E to give to the person.

      Delete
    9. captain obvious at work again. do you really think i'm so careless? i'd never give my real/private account data.

      Delete
    10. Anon 3:03, you mentioned that something is "missing" and there is a "gap." All sociopaths have a strange void that cannot be filled and sense of emptiness they feel. This is one of the main ways they first notice they aren't like everyone else. Perhaps you haven't noticed before because you have had things to distract you from it.

      Delete
    11. MyMind -- thanks very much for the offer to chat via skype/fb. I appreciate it a lot.

      I don't think I'd like to do that now.

      Delete
  2. Schizophrenia must be pretty entertaining.

    It's too bad that the constant state of paranoia causes the sufferer to become isolated from the rest of society.

    ReplyDelete
  3. very useful. i wonder if this in answer to people asking for advice on how to handle being mind sick, from the last post...

    ReplyDelete
  4. This makes sense. This person did not let "Big Psych" define her. She defined herself. She took her strengths and magnified them. She took her weaknesses and dealt with them. This article uplifts me. You cannot be everything. You are stuck with limitations. Mental illness is a "set of limitations", really. If you subsume yourselves to Big Pharma or Big Psych, you are gonna be a sick person. You are going to be DEFINED by your category.
    This person rocks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VEGITOPATH LOVES UKAN AND MONICAJanuary 29, 2013 at 8:40 PM

      TEEHEE VEGITOPATH GONNA MAKE MONEECA HAEV HEEZ BABEES TEEHEE


















































































































































































































































































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      TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















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      TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















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      TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















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      TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















      TEEHEE

      UKAN GAVE MEE PERMEESHION TEEHEE

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Oh, now i got it xD
      nice idea, but there aren#t sooo many regulars, what about daily themes for regulars?

      Delete
    3. There are lots and lots of Regulars. Stick around :D

      Delete
    4. oh yeah i know, but i was thinking about the LONG term, which means very long term.^^ yeah i will, i have been reading the blog daily for the last 5 or 6 months, its just nice to "hang around" with some ppl of your own kind, or at least with ppl that are open minded enough to have a nice conversation with.

      Delete
    5. Double EM: it isn't so much about being open minded as it is about not giving a fuck and fighting boredom. And you can easily speak with people of your own kind everywhere unless you aren't human, or are racist.

      Just sayin'.....

      PiZzLeS!

      Delete
    6. but: at most places, speaking about the really interesting topics and arguing fully rational and/or objective is connected with "problems" or a negative outcome. Also i can improve my english here, which is nice.

      Delete
    7. Not it isn't. Just get out more and find people related to what interests you, and these "types" of discussions can happen frequently. It's called "people skills". If you have them, or the ability to properly socialize, this shouldn't become an issue. Have some confidence, and education on the subject matter of choice, then present them to the correct audience (which typically you should set out to look for)and disclose.

      To add, you shouldn't bee too concerned with the negative outcome to your ideas and thoughts. Half of learning is from the "negative" reactions. If you are trying to avoid confrontation then you aren't really wanting to learn anything new.

      What really interests you btw Double EM, and where are you from?

      Piles the too lazy to sign in Beaver of Wonders

      Delete
    8. nice advices, but i think you misunderstood me:

      there's no problem, according to your post my people skills are kinda high. also i don't have a problem with confrontations of any kind, actually i'm searching them. if i have "licked blood"(i hope this proverb exists in english) in one moment, there's almost nothing that could stop me. i just love the thrill, and thats very self destructive, so i try to avoid these situations.

      what means double EM? and what do you think, where am i from?

      Delete
    9. My mistake, but i wasn't judging you really. I was speaking overall. It could apply to anyone reading. The second paragraph was specifically towards you.

      Double Em is two M's, stands for your name MyMind.

      Calling it a day now. Happy trails :)

      Piles the procrastinating Beaver

      Delete
    10. oh damn, so obvious. No problem. Btw. i'm from germany.

      Delete
  6. What does that mean?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hallucinations are not only a result of schizophrenia. I saw a TED talk recently (did not yet bother to read the full post today, not sure if ME is referring to this as well) where it was clearly stated that the origins of hallucinations could be migraine, could be an eye problem, and if given into could drive the person to crazy, but that crazy is not schizophrenia exactly. The presenter was a doctor who grew up with these hallucinations and learned to stop them pushing into crazy, and he helped many patients of his relax once they all understood the biological origin of their hallucinations. One of the common scenes in these hallucinations is little people, how cute that must be, lol... OK, strike that last one, just rying to lighten up a pretty shitty situation to be in. Best of luck to them all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Buddhism and mindfulness are good for this, as well as the mind sickness.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I miss Zhawq and TNP.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This article reminded me of Eckhart Tolle's belief system that "we are not our mind;" we can find our way out of psychological pain; authentic human power is found by surrendering to the NOW (the present).

    We also find out that the body is actually one of the keys to entry into a state of inner peace, as are the silence and space all around us. I'm truly amazed that a schizophrenic person could master it. What a challenge.


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  11. I must have been looking under my desk, for a piece of paper, or a spitball someone flung at me, but I sure was not at the teacher's desk with an upturned face. I must have been in a fugue state, when all the other kids were at the teacher's knee learning lessons. Maybe, I was eating chocolate pudding, from my lunchbox. Maybe, I was in the bathroom. However, the larger issue is that I was SOMEPLACE. Maybe, I went to sleep, for many years, like Rip Van Winkle. When I woke up, I was essentially retarded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is dedicated to Ellicit for her kindness.

      Delete
  12. I have been in a pink gauze world. One of the TV evangelist's wives has waist long, curly pink hair and talks like a baby.I love pink. When I was in college my whole room was bright pink, including the scale, on which I would weigh myself, every day. I started out nice and thin, then I started binging. A student could go to any cafeteria on the campus, so I went to two or three. No, I did not skip dessert.

    But I digress from long pink hair and woman who talk like babies. This woman got colon cancer. She should have turned out alright because she became a Baby Huey, essentially. She pulled through, but I don't know anymore. I have not watched TV for 4 years, but my favorite color is pink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your writing style very much.

      Delete
    2. VEGITOPATH LOVES MONICAJanuary 29, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      TEEHEE VEGITOPATH GONNA MAKE MONEECA HAEV HEEZ BABEES TEEHEE


















































































































































































































































































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      TEEHEE

      Delete
  13. Everyone I've ever loved says all I've ever done is hurt them and ruin their lives. Even strangers have said they wanted me dead for the things I've done. How can I be a sociopath if this now tortures me?

    ReplyDelete
  14. it would help if you could define "tortures me".

    ReplyDelete
  15. Embrace My Fire - a little homarge to Sofa

    I burn them down
    I always listen when in fire they drown
    I want their death
    My heart is laughing when I smell their burned flesh

    I take their life
    their misery ist for what I strive

    Haven't you listened haven't you heard
    that I want you to rest forever in dirt
    Do not you know how it spinns in my mind
    to eradicate the whole of mankind

    Embrace my fire
    it will burn you whole
    there is no feel
    and there's no control

    I am the pain
    please take my hand
    you'll be the flame
    welcome to your end

    I feel alive
    When for your pain i strive

    We are here now
    I'd like to watch you burn
    Beautiful how
    you scream and turn

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like that a lot, MyMind. I love the last line, especially. Thank you for your kind words, to me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like your stories. You're a pretty bad writer (just stating my honest opinion) I don't think writing would be a good idea for you

      Delete
    2. just put psychopath on the cover and rake in the money

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. You're welcome sofa. keep going!

      Delete
  17. You want to here my theory M.E.?

    Psychopaths are not insane they are just one step ahead of everyone else. They understand the way society works, and because of that, they use it to their advantage. Anybody with that ability would use it.

    I see empathetic people attempt it daily. They fuck each other over, they bring war to people who don't agree with their principles, they lie, they steal, and they cheat on their husbands or wives. They get caught. We are good at it, so we are the ones who are crazy?

    Ironically, Cleckley, when describing the psychopath, describes a person "Absent of Delusion". Can you say the same for your roomate, your sister, your father, or your friends?

    So who is really crazy here?

    Empathetic people are culpable, they are just not capable and for that reason they call us insane and dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What if you don't care how society works? I think socio/psycho-paths have a definite advantage if you have a certain type of goal in mind... but someone like me? How society works is counter to how I function. Society is so structured, it has so many rules... they're inhibiting. Who wants to live in that? Society and they way people live in it, the way people try to manipulate it and the people that function in it... I feel kind of sad for them. They're restricted. Don't get me wrong, I'm completely restricted in my own ways, trapped by the things I'm working to overcome... but at least they're my own limitations. The limitations of society must be suffocating.

      Delete
    2. No you're not. You are impulsive too. You manipulate as well. You may have different motives but the game is the same. You see it and you play it. Don't tell me that bollocks haven. You know it's true.

      Delete
    3. Oh I am impulsive for sure. You're absolutely correct there. It's my own motives that matter to me though. This game or another as long as the end winds up with me happy i'll break any rule i feel the desire too. All facades are meant to be broken. All faces can only be seen from one side at a time.

      Delete
    4. I feel inhibited by myself though. By the things that tie me to others. But then again, when I have those things, i feel I have them.... I don't feel a need for anything else. Who knows.

      Delete
  18. Hey Themes, do you have a song for me. I'm tired of Amy Winehouse.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had a great one for you, Medusa, but you missed it. Coming right up :D

    ReplyDelete
  20. VEGITOPATH LOVES MONICA AND UKA NJanuary 29, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    TEEHEE VEGITOPATH GONNA MAKE MONEECA HAEV HEEZ BABEES TEEHEE


















































































































































































































































































    TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















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    TEEHEE I LIEK YUR WHITEENG STILE VEREE MUCH TEEHEE





















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    TEEHEE

    ReplyDelete

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