Some minor health issues have had me thinking recently about diagnoses of exclusion. There are certain things that we can never prove, we can only prove that they must exist because there is an observable effect with no other explanation. Certain stomach viruses are diagnoses of exclusion, so is love and religion/god. Along those same lines, a reader asked, " is it possible for a sociopath to be self aware when there is no self construct?" I responded:
Your question is interesting and implicates what it means to know anything about oneself. Whenever I write things that would be considered autobiographical about myself, I always wonder -- is this the truth? Is this what actually happened? I'm sure everyone feels this way to a certain extent, but I wonder if my weak sense of self combined with my ability to hyper-compartmentalize makes me even more susceptible to those effects. I often question the objective veracity of my reality -- I acquired that habit a decade or so after I went on a self-deception binge that ended very poorly. If I'm not careful, I am just as likely to hide certain things from myself as I am to hide them from outsiders, like Hyde hiding things from Jeckyl, or more modernly Tyler Durden and the Narrator. This may be why it is commonly said that sociopaths are not aware enough to even wonder whether they are sociopaths (although clearly the oft heard suggestion that "if you think you might be a sociopath, you aren't one" is an exaggeration).
It is true what you said about the difficulties of being self-aware without a self construct. A lot of it is indirect observation, I think, like how we know that there exists dark matter in the universe not because we can see or measure it directly, but because we can see its effects so we presume it to be there. I guess that is how society knows that there are psychopaths among them as well -- we typically stay hidden, albeit in plain sight, but you can certainly see our effects.