Disordered Kin

Posted Sun, 11/13/11

Do you know someone who possesses at least three of the following personality traits?

  • Callous unconcern for feelings of others; lacks capacity for empathy.

  • Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules and obligations.

  • Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.

  • Low tolerance to frustration; low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.

  • Incapacity to experience guilt or profit from experience, in particular punishment or making amends.

  • Prone to blame others or offer plausible rationalizations for behavior bringing the subject into conflict.

  • Persistent irritability.

According to the World Health Organization, the tendencies listed above describe someone with ASPD (Antisocial Personality Disorder). People who operate thus are also referred to as sociopathic.

And yes, I do know someone with most of the traits. Unfortunately, the person is a blood relation who has lived under the psychological radar for decades. It's as if this person knows there is something wrong, but puts on a deceptive front thereby giving the impression of normalcy.

People with certain mental issues likely go untreated if someone close to them enables their behavior by pretending it doesn't exist, or fostering the same belief when describing the behavior to others. In other words, enablers dismiss erratic behavior by refusing to acknowledge its validity outside the "inner circle." It reminds me of someone protecting a drug addict or alcoholic, thereby giving permission to the afflicted to carry on as usual. Mental issues are quite often tangled in the mess of substance abuse as well.

I don't pretend to be an expert, but I do know what I've experienced in my life to date. Tolerating the persistent mental issues of others grows extremely tiresome after several decades. There comes a point when one has to let go and allow the afflicted to flounder on their own, whether a blood relation or not.

We all deserve a measure of happiness during our short time on earth, even if it means abandoning certain kin.