Thanks for your reply. The idea is interesting and I will try this over the next few weeks and see what conclusions I come to.
Over the last few weeks I have started seeing a psychologist - I feel like I actually need to know what is "wrong" with me - although not sure that I really feel like anything is wrong - things just are. He seems inclined to think that I've got antisocial personality disorder or that I possibly am a sociopath.
I know in your book that you mentioned one time when a guy told you off for walking down a closed escalator on the underground in Washington you had this "snap" when you followed him with the purpose of assaulting him. I've also had several "snaps" like that but have always snapped out of them before anything has actually happened. The most serious was when I was 21. A friends of mine had been dating this guy who worked as a tram driver. They broke up and one day when I was waiting for the tram at my stop the tram approached and slowed down and I could see that he was driving. I was alone at the stop and he slowed down - just to then not stop and drive off to piss me off I guess. As I stood there the tram slowed down (the next stop was just within sight from where I was standing) and I realised that there was another tram on that stop (probably having issues closing the doors or something) and before I knew it I had jumped down on the track and ran after the tram and all I could think of was that I had to kill this guy. I managed to catch up with it and get onto it just as the doors were closing. I rushed through the tram to the front where I started shouting at the driver (my friends ex) and tried to get the door open. Suddenly someone started shouting at me asking what I'm doing and I turn around and realise that there are 2 police officers standing there looking at me, clearly they had been on the tram and I had missed this as I was so focused on killing him. And then I snapped out of it. The police officers was about to arrest me but the driver talked them out of it explaining that he knew me and what had happened.
I guess my main concerns with incidents like that is that it's something I don't have control over. Don't get me wrong, they don't happen on a weekly basis, but when they do I feel like I'm not my everyday self, like it's something I can't control. Even though I know I shouldn't act on it, when these moments come all reasoning stops and all that exists in my mind is that focus on killing that person. Do you have any method to control these urges/impulses?
Yeah, I know what you mean. For me, the thing that things that contribute to a feeling of being out of control (1) part of me feels like that's who I really am so I can't/shouldn't fight it, (2) part of me feels like I want to do that thing, (3) I can't really predict when they will happen -- sometimes something like that will trigger me and other times not, (4) I think I really do have attentional issues that make it easy to get locked on to a thought the way a pitbull locks on to its prey, (5) it's often irrational, so I feel like it wouldn't do any good to try to reason with myself, and without reason what else could stop me but physical force, I wonder? (6) the feeling that it isn't me, or at least not everyday me gives me a feeling that I am out of touch with myself.
And other reasons, probably. But I have found the previous exercise is really helpful for all of those things. It doesn't necessarily address them directly, but I feel like it is like the swimming drills I love to do -- doing things differently or even awkwardly often makes you aware of things you are doing wrong much better than if someone told you you were wrong over and over again, if that makes sense?
I have always sort of struggled to identify and track my own thoughts and feelings. I think I always felt like my identity was a moving target. And I used to not care to understand myself, at least not actively. In fact, for a long time I felt like at least a part of me was actively trying to hide certain aspects of my identity from myself. Recently, though, I have realized how much I don't know, and it has started bothering me.
So these sorts of exercises are what I am working on in therapy currently. It's not super pleasant. Little things bother me that used to not, e.g. hopefully this is just a passing phase, but it really bothers me to think that other people know me better than I know me (especially when they say as much).
It's odd. I've always believed that if truth relative, or at least the perception of truth is. But in order to maintain the belief that I am connecting to some basic truths about myself, I have had to believe that there are basic truths about me -- things that are true about me no matter what the situation, even if I close my eyes to them, even if we all agree to pretend they don't exist. And that is starting to seem more "true" to me than my previous beliefs about myself. Because even if I ignore them or convince myself that these little "secrets" about me don't matter, they're still there. And they affect me and my life in ways that I am still hazy about. And I think that's a major reason why it has traditionally been hard for me to learn from experience -- why I have historically kept making the same mistakes over and over again. To the extent that I have deluded myself about who I am, I have also remained willfully ignorant of the causes to a lot of the effects I experience.
This must be true for almost everyone, I imagine. And maybe it is disturbing for everyone -- for empaths because they have such a strong sense of identity that may or may not encompass all actual truths about themselves. For someone like me, the disturbing part about not knowing myself is the lack of control I feel and the sense that others can exploit that knowledge gap against me.
Maybe this is how we get sociopaths to care about things that they don't naturally care about?