The day I discovered I was a psychopath
a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
I’m just another guy you would know. I’m not a convict or a criminal-wannabe. I don’t skin my neighbors, I don’t spend my time devising torture methods, I don’t even subscribe to Netflix, for goodness sake. (Dear Netflix, I want Game of Thrones.) By many personal accounts, I’m just another regular person. I’m eighteen, attending college, and I live alone, but have a girlfriend. Nothing seems wrong with me on the surface.
The closest friends I have are the ones I made in high school. They might say I’m quirky or smarter-than-average, and they’re right. But the thing they always miss is ‘quirky’ and ‘smart’ don’t usually exist alone. Most of the time, we are like atoms: we need an equal number of positive and negative charges to remain stable. We don’t always have to be stable, but most of the time we drift towards it naturally.
All that to say that no positive trait of anyone doesn’t have a downside. And the downside is where the psycho lives in us all.
What am I?
I don’t think better than many people. I’m not ‘naturally smart’ as some of my friends are convinced, either — I just think differently than most people.
I think in terms of problems and how to fix them, and I extend this framework to everything. That’s why it’s quite common for people to remark that I’m ‘practical’, but ‘picky’ or ‘always complaining’ or ‘ungrateful’, because the only way I naturally think is to first find a problem with something. I do this all the time, but that doesn’t mean I’m complaining. It’s just the way I think. I find problems, then I solve them.
I explore different paths by default, thus I come up with insights that normal people would have some difficulty discovering, which creates the illusion that I got the insight through the same method they did, just faster, which in turn creates the illusion that I’m smart. But I’m really not.
Because of my abnormal thinking, I’ve considered myself a borderline psychopath for a while. And I’m not just saying that to fish for attention. If you were inside my head, you would probably come to the same conclusion.
What does this mean?
The other day I was attending one of the few college classes I actually attend regularly— a studio session for a design principles class. I was sitting at a table with one female student in her forties, and one textbook example of a Canadian white girl. I mean she had a pumpkin slice from Starbucks, a plaid shirt over a tank top on when it was five degrees outside, and over-sized glasses. (The description isn’t meant to be condescending, I’m just emphasizing her correspondence to the stereotype to show that she’s what I would consider an ‘average teenage girl’ in this culture.)
At some point in our awkward conversation as a trio, the pumpkin slice girl said something that wounded me, “I really hope I don’t marry a psychopath.”
Without thinking, I blurted out, “Why?!” as if she had just confessed her love for Satan.
“I just don’t want to marry someone who doesn’t know how to love,” she replied calmly.
I was shocked by the fact that she believed psychopaths are incapable of compassion and was about to turn her pumpkin slice into a pumpkin mess, but then her sentiment hit home.
I remembered all the times I had been talking to my girlfriend, trashing the concept of marriage and commitment, not noticing that she had been crying since I started.
I remembered all the days and nights I had spent alone, estranged from my biological family and wounding the only member of my possible future family with a genuine thought I had blurted out that turned out to be hurtful.
I remembered the countless times every day I think of a future without any of my current friends in it because deep down, I don’t wish to even associate with people who want, or even tolerate, a traditional education and a traditional job and a traditional life.
All pitfalls of mine, all caused by an inability to just wrap my heart around the things I’m supposed to love. Maybe my abnormal thinking causes this. Maybe I view all the faults in people as problems to be fixed. Maybe it’s like that because I never think to just let things be the way they are, and when I do let things go, I discard them completely.
Maybe the pumpkin slice girl is right.
Maybe I am incapable of love, as I will discover eventually, no doubt after many more broken relationships.