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On the subject of hurting one's animal. (and Anti-Social Personality Disorder)



New member
Sep 13, 2018
seattle, wa
On the subject of hurting one's animal. (and Anti-Social Personality Disorder)

I really don’t know where the rage comes from, or why. Actually, I’m no longer under the belief that it even is rage. No matter what I do, or feel, or what is happening around me, and least of all what she’s doing or not doing, I want to hurt my cat. I want it. I desire it. My brain is in my head, I am fairly calm, and I am sober. It is me doing it. Say that with me. “I am doing this. I am hurting my cat.” That’s step one I think. Not everyone is fortunate enough to get that far.

You’re probably assuming right now, somewhere between the ‘he should die’s and the ‘burn in hells’, that these words, if true, were written by a sociopath. You would be right. Some years ago, I was definitively diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder. This disorder is mainly characterized by dishonesty, manipulation, repeat criminal offense with lack of remorse, and lack of regard for safety for yourself and/or those around you. Another widely occurring symptom is animal abuse. My journey has carried me into many a therapists’ office and hospital since my childhood, and in my adult years, ASPD started being considered and eventually unanimously decided upon by a group of psychiatrists who I suppose I’ll just have to have faith in. Now this doesn’t happen to me very often (probably because I don’t read enough), but I had defined anti-social for myself a long time ago, and it turns out that I was completely wrong about what that term meant.

When we think of someone as being anti-social, we think of hermits, shut ins, introverts; generally people who don’t like people come to mind. You know, Shelly at the party, always on her phone. What the hell is Shelly’s problem? Why is she being so “anti-social”? If you looked up anti-social in a dictionary and it said something like “ rejecting or lacking the capacity for social interaction”, you’d more than likely believe it to be accurate. This is actually the definition of the word asocial. Asocial people may not often say hello to you on the street. They may or may not make eye contact. They may tell you “It’s nothing personal”. I suggest that you listen to them. Asocial people are loners by nature, and while there may be nothing wrong with that, it tends to make others uncomfortable. Every social interaction for an asocial person is on some level potentially very stressful. How could someone prefer live in isolation? How could they possibly be happy this way? Do they just hate people? Is Shelly just a bitch?

These aren’t necessarily the correct questions to ask when dealing with a sociopath, or someone with ASPD. Lets briefly visit a metaphor. I like metaphors. Imagine a stray cat. Every time you try to go over to the cat with a treat, the cat runs away. Maybe just to create a comfortable distance between you and it, or maybe it will run and hide completely. This is asocial behavior at a base level. The cat has nothing against you personally, but it would prefer to be left alone, possibly due to distrust, fear, or any number of reasons. But a cat displaying anti-social behavior would be different. I’ll cite the Marriam-Webster definition of the term: “adverse to the society of others; hostile or harmful to organized society, marked by behavior deviating sharply from the social norm”. This cat wouldn’t be backing away from you, it would be making you back away from it. This behavior could stem from very similar reasons as the stray behaving in an asocial manner, but the presence of aggression would make for a key difference. Usually these cats are called feral. Think, I cannot approach this cat. This cat may desire to hurt me. It probably isn’t personal, but reality is such.

Unlike asocial people, anti-social people aren’t hiding or running from social situations. These people are charismatic and likeable. The successful ones are in plain sight, leading full lives with marriages, jobs, even children. They are powerful people, CEO’s of fortune five hundred companies, and they are also working cash registers at McDonald’s. (No disrespect to people working cash registers at McDonald’s.)

But this is where most people stop seeing eye to eye on the subject of Anti-Social Personality Disorder. On one had, it is a medically recognized illness, categorized as a personality disorder, such as dissociative identity disorder, or borderline personality disorder. So you may be surprised to hear (or not) that a fair amount of society would rather just lock these people up. The general consensus is often that people with personality disorders are dangerous, and not to be trusted. Psychopaths and weirdos, with no place in a society reliant on order and morals! So why is it that we hear about these people in all walks of life? How can a sect of people so corrupt, so seemingly amoral and misguided, be so deeply, so.. unnervingly intertwined into our every day lives? More importantly, are you safe from them? Yes, and not really. Because they’re all of us. They’re our neighbors and mailmen. That cute girl at the Starbucks you frequent who smiles at you every morning. Your boss. Your family member. You.

A study by F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., and Donald M. Dougherty, Ph.D. called Anti-social Personality Disorder, Alcohol, and Aggression found that approximately three percent of men and one percent of women in the general population meet the criteria for anti-social personality disorder (American Psychological Association, 1994). Small numbers to some, but when you pair those numbers against fathers and mothers and teachers, a more clear picture begins to form: these people are an undeniable part of our society.

So do we just give up? Maybe we should. But for some of us, giving up isn’t an option. Not every sociopath has the luxury of giving away their cat or putting it up for adoption. Frankly, some of us have worked too damned hard to just say “I can’t control myself”. I personally share a home with my wife, who loves our cat very very much, and seeing it go would never be an acceptable option. But is that enough to stop me from killing it?

The thought of killing it is a hard stop for some, if not most of you. A line crossed, thoughts one would rather not have. But for those of who live with these thoughts every day, hour and minute, we must explore these things. We must learn ourselves, the ugliest parts included, because no one knows the love we’re also capable of other than us. I’m not talking to all of you. Some of you know that you’ve committed to a different set of thinking, and I accept you too. The ones who’s cats didn’t all make it. You probably Googled the same things I did before it came to that point, and were probably met with the same close minded, hateful responses I was, so I thought I would try something different. If your animal is still alive, and even the smallest part of you wants it to stay that way, then there is hope.

Love. I’m serious. Try love first, before everything regarding the animal and it’s world. At the end of the day, this isn’t the first time you’ve had to deal with this type of problem, and it won’t be the last, but this one is pressing. Likely there is some reason you cannot give up the animal, and some reason why you also cannot kill it, most likely it being that it won’t be worth the trouble you’ll endure later. If that’s it, hold onto that. Love will make everything clear. A deep affection. Think of the true thing you’re actually trying to preserve. I see things in a very pragmatic way, so for me that’s easy. My wife truly loves having a cat. Also, though possibly unrelated, it turns out that she prefers a happy cat. And this just might be me overthinking the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure she prefers an alive cat also. So with that simple logic, paired with the five months I spent locked in a psychological battle with a fucking house cat where some nights she didn’t go to bed unscathed (she’s fine now, I promise), things became more simple. Keeping the cat happy and keeping my wife happy became the same thing.

Though I get it, it is not so easy sometimes. Animals have a way of loving us no matter what. They’ll forgive you, given time. A lot of you probably do give them time, and everything feels okay, and then one night, you’re in that place again.

I get it.

But remember always, try love first. Burn it into your eyelids. Before doing anything regarding the animal, ask yourself, are you doing it out of love? Separate yourself from the animal at times when you think you don’t have any love to give. No one has love all the time. Apply this to anything in life. Do everything you can in your day with love, and coming home to your animal will be much easier over time. You are not alone.

I’m in no way advocating the abuse of animals. It is a subject that needs to be addressed tactfully, and respectfully. If you are experiencing any thoughts of hurting yourself or anyone/anything else, I urge you to seek emergency services immediately.

Writing on these topics from the point of view of someone who is experiencing them first hand is key to the future of personality disorders and behavioral disorders alike. You are not your disorder, but you have a choice. The animal does not. Start somewhere kind.

Start with love.

A Friendly Friend