Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Antisocial Personality Disorder | Letter to my Brother

The following is part of the letter I sent to my brother in jail about his mental disposition.This letter is in addition to my previous post: Adult Child in Crisis with Personality Disorder Parents and is a detailed synopsis of Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), including the disorder's origination, how the disease manifests itself before the age of 15, diagnosis criteria, and complications from the disorder. He stated that the entire description fit him and that he would take the letter to a psychiatrist as soon as possible to help with the diagnosis. The following is part of the letter:

I completely understand where you are coming from—feeling like you are mentally tapped. I do think that you can do something about it though. I have been researching and researching for the last 9 months about what could be the cause behind your troubles, and I think that I may have insight to what has been troubling you all of these years. Before I tell you the ‘name’ of it, I want you to read about it. I found a disorder that originates from:
  1. Being subjected to verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  2. Having an unstable or chaotic family life during childhood
  3. Loss of parents through death or divorce during childhood
  4. Absence of parental discipline.
  5. Removal from the home.
  6. Erratic, inconsistent discipline.
  7. Being “rescued” each time the person is in trouble and never having to suffer the consequences of his own behavior.
  8. Maternal deprivation and lack of an appropriate “attachment”.
I think that you meet pretty much all 8 of these origination factors… you were subjected to verbal abuse, our family life was very unstable and chaotic starting when you were 10 years old, you lost parents through divorce, the parental discipline was lax at Dad’s house, you were removed from the home at a young age, you have been ‘rescued’ by Dad quite a few times through the years (financially, not emotionally), and I think that the attachment with our mother was not effective due to her mental disposition (unavailable emotionally through large periods of our childhood).

Now, the disorder is also characterized by kids having conduct disorder before the age of 15 years old. In your case, how angry you would get at times: recall when you broke my finger, busted the bathroom door down, busted down Dad’s door to his bedroom, and jumped out of a moving car. These are just a few.

A diagnosis for this order is made if 3 or more of the following are met. I think that you have more than 3 of the 7. What are your thoughts?
  1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
  2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying
  3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  4. Irritability and aggressiveness
  5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.
  7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
Complications from this disorder include:
  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Aggression or violence
  4. Suicidal behavior
  5. Reckless behavior
  6. Alcohol or substance abuse
  7. Incarceration
  8. Relationship difficulties
  9. Social isolation
  10. School and work problems
  11. Strained relationships with health care providers
Again, I think you have many of these complications as well. And treating simply a complication, such as depression or anxiety, is not treating the actual disorder from where the complication is originating. The complication is simply a symptom of the over-riding disorder. And that’s why the Prozac or whatever hasn’t been really ‘helping’ you, as a symptom / complication is merely being treated (ie: one has the flu, but only takes an antihistamine. Well, the runny nose may be gone BUT the flu is still there). The disorder needs to be treated, not just the depression / anxiety or whatnot.

So, overall, I think this disorder may be what has complicated your life for so long. How the disorder originates (8 points), how the disorder manifests itself before the age of 15, the diagnosis criteria (7 points), and the complications of the disorder (11 points) seem pretty spot-on for what you have been going through for decades. What are your thoughts?

One may have a very small back problem at birth—maybe a back problem that would never even is a big deal. But when the individual is around 10 years old, a bunch of stuff happens to aggravate that back problem, causing it to become more pronounced. And as life goes on, the back problem becomes more of a focus. This back with a disorder, left unattended, can affect one’s life negatively with pain, complications, and challenges. However, once the back problem is attended to by a professional, one is able to lead a pain-free, less complicated, and less challenging life. So, even though the mind is something people can’t see on the outside, just like the back, the mind can lead to troubles if problems are left unattended.

Well, I hope this helps. I think that if you are able to have a proper evaluation and diagnosis, that you will be able to deal with what is really going on with you. I think that you have been spiraling in a messy tornado, not actually ever dealing with the core issue. The facts surrounding your life are just results of what is really going on in your head… meaning, you can’t just go hold down a job long-term because not holding down a job long-term is a result of how your brain is misleading you. You lie because of how your brain is misleading you. You have been doing the things you do because of how your brain is leading you… and until you have this straightened out, the other factors continue the way they have been in the past. As one of my favorite quotes says, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. So, change the fundamental way your brain is working.

I hope you don’t feel as if I am over-stepping my boundaries here… but I am so worried about you, and I have spent countless hours (since last July 2008) trying to find out how to help you. I have always believed in you… I will always believe in you. I think you are a good person, I think you mean well, and I think that you have been deeply troubled since you were a little boy. I wish I could wave a magic wand and erase all of the troubles swirling around in your head… but this is something you have to make a big commitment and conscious effort to do yourself. Your brain is just that—YOURS. And until you want to make yourself happy, in control of your own life, and peaceful, there’s no one else that can take you there. You are the pilot of your own destiny.

The stuff that happened to you as a child and teenager are in the past. Let it go. Free yourself. The things that happened in your 20’s are in the past—same with your 30’s. What you DO have is what is ahead. And what is ahead is what you make of it. You can make it happy… or you can make it not happy. Yes, you have some things that are tough with finances—but a TON of people have that too. You have to decide to manage your life because it’s your life to manage. You have to decide that you are worth it. Not because I want you to… or because your fiance wants you to… or because your kids want you to… you have to decide to manage your life because YOU want to.

Changing the way you think is hard work. But you can do it. You have to make a conscious effort every day to redirect the path of your thinking. And with a psychiatrist as a tool to help, you will be able to conqueror the demons in your head and lead the life that you want. You said you are sorry in your letter—well the best way to say your sorry is to make a change and show you mean it. Like I said, I believe in you: YOU, your soul, you as a person, you as my brother, you as my friend, and you as one of the people I love the very most in the whole wide world. And I want you to love yourself that much. You’re going to have to dig deep.

Well, I hope all this helped. I will be happy to write to you about any of this. I only want the best for you—and I want you to lead the life that makes you happy, complete, and fulfilled. And obviously you haven’t been leading that life. I don’t know what else I can do other than offer my emotional support, as well as the information that I have researched and studied for the past 9 months. Please take this information in the light it’s presented and know that I love you with all of my heart. The disorder’s name is Antisocial Personality Disorder.


  1. I loved a Child called it and Pelzer's other books. And OMG, did I identify with him, although I was never beaten the way he was. One thing that really stuck with me. He mentioned after he was in the army how he wanted to be able to face his mother but he still after years away from her could not look her in the eye. I can't look my mother in the eye, she is terrifying to me. I love your blog. I believe my mother to be narcissistic, critical, possibly bpd, most amusing she thinks there is something wrong with me! When I've been told by many therapist's that Im actually doing really well for all the shit she has and continues to throw my way. I suffer from a huge lack of self esteem due to her constant brow beating of me and my parenting skills to this day. Like she ever put any effort into being a true parent to me. HA. Your blog is poingent, truthful, yet oddly comforting. Thanks.

  2. Hi "My Big Mouth" :)

    I, too, identified with David Pelzer and his experience with his mother... that's why the whole time I was reading, I was thinking, "Wow! Catherine acts like my mother. Hmmmm, Borderline Personality Disorder!?!?!" So after I was finished reading the book (and taking tons of notes), and started my quest of comparing Catherine the the framework of BPD... and, wah lah, she fits. Have you read Understanding the Borderline Mother by Lawson? If you haven't, I highly recommend it.

    Keep on working on loving yourself and raising your self esteem-- remember what all she did to you is because of HER, not you. Shift your thinking about her, and you will shift your thinking about yourself.

    Thank you for your compliments about the blog. I am so, so happy that you are finding comfort in the writing. Love yourself and be happy ;)

  3. It's the parent's fault! Blah, Blah, Blah! I have a brother, charming as he is capable of becoming, is a pathological liar who has brought heartache and chaos to my family. He's a master manipulator. Presently, he's in detox--he had become a junky!. He has consorted with rif-raf and other assorted undesirables for the last 35 years (In some warped and distorted way he feels that by befriending those who society "misunderstands: he is showing his "mercy" to them.--Until, on rare occaisions, one turns his or her life around and becomes a productive member of society; at which point he doesn't have much use for him or her). He blames my father for his bad prediciments and poor decision-making over the years. I get so tired of hearing him assign blame to our father for his anti-social and pathological behavior! Ugggh!!!!

  4. Blaming others for their problems is part-and-parcel of the Antisocial Personality (APD). And if they aren't assigning blame to others for their problems, they're rationalizing what they've done.

    People with APD often use faulty rationalizations to justify their behavior. Examples include excuse making, blaming someone or something else for causing the behavior, lying, thinking that they're special and that the rules don't apply to them, victim playing, grandiosity, and using power plays to get their way.

    Hang in there-- knowing where he's coming from helps to deal with the dysfunction and toxicity. I just 'tune out' his assigning blame as well as his rationalizations... change the subject, get off the phone, don't allow the conversation to turn to that. Best of luck to you.

  5. I have a cousin who was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. He would constantly blame everyone else for problems that he obviously caused and/or things that were completely out of everyone's hands. He was always hard to deal with because there was no reasoning with him.

    It is always helpful to have a support system to help you get through the tough times.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Sharon. All my best~