I have never really been on any medication. I’m curious what tranquilizers you have been taking. Do you think some of the mellowing out is also just due to age and/or acquiring enough in your personal life that you are a little more hesitant to risk it on risk-seeking impulses?
To answer your questions, my impulse has traditionally been that it would be that it is better to be a loose cannon then to be a dumbed down version of myself, although if I were faced with ultimatums from loved ones or started to feel a little out of control, I wouldn’t hesitate to mellow out through the use of drugs. I don't know if it is necessarily a self image issue, but depending on what I'm doing, I feel like I am barely smart enough to keep one step ahead in my exploits. I already don’t do a lot of things I would like to do (boxing, other violent activities that involve possible head injuries) because of that, and I would have a similar reluctance to take meds because it might make me lose that part of my personality that helps me fulfill the role that I often choose in my life. Plus I guess I am comfortable being me and it would be weird to feel like something else besides me is my puppetmaster. So I guess the feeling of a loss of control would bother me a bit.
On the other hand, sometimes I feel like being a lot more passive, taking a break. I am sort of feeling like that right now, actually. And I go through cycles of being this way, on and off. Maybe several years on, one year off? It's sort of like sleep to me, and I like to take meds to sleep that deep restorative sleep. So maybe when I'm off I should be on meds too, just to give my mind a break. And I really like trying new things, so maybe I will try this.
I understand what you mean about the medication "resetting" your brain. The mind gets in habits of thinking and it's hard to break those habits, but I can see how being on meds would by their very nature be a disruptive force in your mental patterns. Once a pattern is disrupted, I think it is much easier to start a different pattern. That's why it's hard for me to get too sad about my life falling apart.
Your question “Is it weaker to latch on to one's emotions as a source of identity and meaning, or to accept them as a liability and turn them off?” is a really interesting one. I have a shadow of a memory of choosing the latter and I don't really think it’s reversible, but I don’t really have opinions anymore about which is better. I guess the answer is that it is better for the world to have some of each. And for each individual, it probably depends on your circumstances, like choosing which airport security line you think is going to be best for your particular needs. The default for sociopaths is to not identify with their emotions as a source of identity and meaning, and the default for empaths is to see their emotions as a reflection of the truth about themselves and the world around them. Both of them are incomplete approaches to discerning reality, probably. Both would do well to learn something from the other.
Has anyone else had good experience with meds? It would actually be great if there was a medication that worked with sociopaths. Then we could be like schizophrenics -- as long as we were thought to be taking medication, people would likely not discriminate against us. It's sad, really, because I think a lot of sociopaths have found non-medicated ways to achieve the same ends (e.g. resetting out mindsets towards more pro-social ends through mindfulness, meditation, found spirituality, etc.). And we know that this can also change brain chemistry -- as my friend's doctor told her regarding postpartum depression, you can treat it either with medication or with therapy and both work to the same goal. But would people trust that a sociopath had made this sort of internal change sans meds? Would the sociopath eventually be able to be given the same benefit of that doubt, that although he remained a sociopath, he had it "managed"? The problem with figuring out a non-medicated way of resetting your mindset or controlling your thoughts/behavior is that people put way more trust in the power of medications than they do the power of the mind to change. Or am I wrong?