If you ask someone with ASPD what they struggle with most in life, they would probably struggle to narrow it down to one universal factor. Environmental factors such as upbringing, education, and social lifestyle (and many other things) all play a massive role in shaping the mind of an antisocial. It’s important to distinguish between brain and mind before we continue. Personal views on monism vs dualism are not reflected in this paper, but for the sake of this piece we will see the mind and brain as separate entities.
You see, I have the brain to be dangerous. My genetic coding is what society labels as a personality disorder. What that really means is that my brain has been identified to carry and act on a sequence of consistent traits and patterns of behaviour which we categorise under the DSM-V as a disorder called ASPD.
This brain is not going to help form a personality fit for society, and so luckily for someone with ASPD, our mind gets an equal say in the matter. While my brain remains ‘dangerous’, my mind is able to co-pilot this plane. The brain is born from millions of years of evolutionary development, but the mind is moulded by the environment and cannot begin its growth until it’s born. While the mind is born a blank canvas, the brain is already sitting comfortably in the pilot’s seat. That very brain is what has the potential to make me a living monster to everyone around me, so the mind must play catch up quite quickly if it is to co-pilot this plane. While the plane has already taken off from the very minute we are born, our mind also begins to take shape rapidly. Our mother, father, siblings, teachers and idols, extended family, friends, education and hobbies, significant life events and significant others, socio-economic status – almost everything will shape this mind. This mind will become the only thing that can influence the behaviour of the antisocial – other than its own brain. Somewhere deep within the connection of the mind and brain our personality is born, so it is very important that the mind forms in a way to counter the antisocial brain. This will ensure the development of a personality which can be functional within society.
The antisocial mind is quite fragile and sensitive however. Trauma, family upbringing, significant life events and people, level of love and care, education and access to health, all these things will strongly impact the antisocial mind. You must remember that the antisocial mind is only antisocial because of the brain. It is the brain which holds the disorder, and that brain is forever tied to the mind. For those who have a ‘normal’ functioning brain, this tie between the brain and the mind is a healthy relationship. But for a brain like mine, this influence is not ideal if I aim to develop a personality which can be functional within our society.
A mind which experiences love, care, compassion, and positive nurturing can grow to become functional in society, while those that face hate and harsh conditions both mentally and physically tend to become destructive to society. Personally, I have experienced both ends of this spectrum in my upbringing. I can openly admit I have both been an amazing person, and an awful person throughout my life – the battle between mind and brain is ongoing and eternal for someone with ASPD. Those with a brain like mine can grow up and become successful and admired individuals, we can also grow to be cruel and manipulative towards the people we love. Even further, people with ASPD can become a danger to society, prone to dangerous and harmful acts such as violence, murder and sex crimes
As someone with an ASPD brain, I can quite easily admit that I have the potential to be all of these things. The good and the bad – I can feel it inside of me. I feel it, I think it, and it grows with me. While there are many positive aspects to my personality, the worst of it can be quite confronting, disturbing, and evil. With favourable environmental conditions and the support of a nurturing upbringing my mind was able to form properly. This mind is the buffer between the monster within me and the person who others get to see. The mind gets to shape my personality just as much as my brain does.
A functional antisocial requires a strong, educated, and loving mind in order to bring balance within the overall personality of that individual.