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Fear of possibly being sociopathic.

Hi, my name’s Chris, i’m 19 and i've recently become worried that I might be sociopathic or psychopathic. I've no history of anti-social behaviour, I've never been arrested and I wasn't abused as a child. However when I read stuff about the guys who committed the columbine tragedy they seem so totally normal when really they were seriously troubled underneath it all, and it sort of worries me when I reflect on myself.

I'm on an SSRI for anxiety and I think a lot of anxiety stems from finding it difficult to dispel ocd thoughts, or irrational fixation on something that worries me. For instance, I had to go back on Lexapro because I couldn't commute to college because of a sort of irritable bowel syndrome brought on by anxiety and ocd. I couldn't snap out of the illusory fear that I was going to have a bowel movement even if I'd just used the toilet. Anxiety would make my stomach feel funny, and that in turn would increase my anxiety, and it was basically a vicious circle. So that's just an example of the sort of ocd that makes me anxious.

When I first began getting anxious, I had panic attacks, but that was about 3 or 4 years ago and I've never had one since. However I still fixate on problems. It almost feels like hypochondria; as if I’ve always got someting to worry about. I used to get really anxious because I'd focus in on my breathing and I'd get afraid that I'd stop, and the automatic nature of it also sort of weirded me out. Basically I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. My Mum and Dad also experienced panic attacks at certain times in their lives so part of my condition might be hereditary.

One of my more recent ocd troubles – although admittedly it hasn’t made me too nervous or anxious – has been the worry that I might harm someone compulsively, be it a member of my family or whatever. I think it’s sort of subsided with the reintroduction of Lexapro, but I still worry about it from time to time. I had to request a separate room with less people for my exams this semester just because I was a little bit worried that I hadn’t recovered enough and that I’d panic in a big, silent room of a thousand people. I was also worried that irritable bowel syndrome would strike again and that that would also be a major source of panic.
I’m also fearful because the Lexapro seems to effect my emotions and it also seems to make orgasm less intense. I feel, not numb, but sort of a bit less emotionally receptive when I’ve been on them for long enough. Music won’t send shivers up my spine as much for instance. Or something moving in a movie or tv show won’t touch me quite as much. I don’t know if this is some sort of placebo based worry that is maybe preoccupying my thoughts but the orgasm thing I mentioned seems true. Orgasms seem to be less satisfying. Are there any supplementary treatments for this that wouldn’t clash with Lexapro?

Anyway to return to my original concern, reading lists of symptoms of sociopathy, I can’t help but feel some of them apply to me. I don’t know if it’s just my imagination or my worrisome personality, but such things like “inability to tolerate boredom” and “irritability” seem to sort of apply to me depending on the situation. “Constant search for new sensations”: I can get bored of certain styles of music and need another. My taste in music has changed pretty dramatically since my 4th year in secondary school, but then I see a majority others from my same generation who’s tastes haven’t really changed. I feel like I have some sort of weird ADD that makes me tire of things easily and hop to others. I’m just worried I’ll exhaust everything. Although I have been known to come back to music long abandoned or stopped listening to with renewed interest or a sense of nostalgia, but it still worries me. I often find myself to be a little bit cynical too; I often don’t like talking or responding in platitudes because it kind of irritates me, and I sort of find it difficult to talk to girls. Sometimes I make myself respond non-cynically to people but I feel like it’d be so much easier for me to reply with a sarcastic remark or something. Also, I don’t really have a totally clear cut goal for my future, and i’m not the most responsible person ever. I’ve never had a job, and I can’t drive. A lot of my friends have these things and sometimes I feel a lot less responsible than them.

Also, “complying with social norms”. I mean, i’m not some deviant, but even looking to my music tastes. I’ve come so far with them and I listen to a lot of extreme music. Not because of the violence but because of the musicality. However it is stuff that simply isn’t radio friendly. That said I listen to radio friendly stuff too, in fact I listen to nearly all kinds of music, but still... I also started reading all sorts of heavy literature when I was only 17 or 18 and I think it kind of affected me profoundly. I was reading Kafka, Philp K. Dick, Orwell, Vonnegut and a few others, and I’ve gone on to study English and Philosophy in university. I’m in my second year but I almost feel like most of the stuff I learn in both subjects is depressing on some level. I’m not sure if all this knowledge is desensitizing me or something. And I almost fully believe at this point that the more knowledgeable you are, the less happy you are. Ignorance would seem to be bliss.
Other than that I don’t harm animals, I don’t compulsively lie, although sometimes under pressure I find I can distort things a little bit, or embellish. I don’t know if that’s to do with my social skills or not. But most times I tell the truth. And I don’t have disturbing dreams. (I have very surreal dreams but I’ve never really had a properly violent dream before I don’t think)I’m a little bit afraid to look at violent things recently though. I’m afraid it’ll desensitize me or entice me or something.

Also, I was known for drawing pretty surreal and grotesque drawings in school. They were for humour’s sake and my friends thought they were hilarious, but looking back on them I wonder what was going in my head. They aren’t necessarily violent, but some of them were sort of comically dark and others sort of freakish, and it worries me a bit. I also had a fascination with drawing swords. Largely I think from all the fantasy videogames I play but I sometimes worry and wonder whether or not my drawings had something to do with some sort of psychoanalytic Id or something.

I’m troubled by philosophical issues a bit too. Questions of morality, the meaning of life, language and reality, and I often consider abandoning philosophy altogether in case it makes me into some sort of despondent nihilist.
I think perhaps some of my personality can be ascribed to the fact that I haven’t really had a girlfriend for a long time (must be about 7 or 8 years by now) and hence I haven’t really had any sort of release. My lack of an emotional partner is making me cynical and maybe even a little bit bitter. I’m not too bad with girls, though sometimes I find it difficult to talk to them and I feel a little bit intimidated. But I think I idealise women a bit, and sometimes I think that has something to do with pornography consumption that has maybe distorted my sexual realities a bit. I’ve since made a very conscious effort to cut back on said consumption and I avoid masturbation keeping a most like 9 days between each one, in hope that I restore this reality. But I started watching pornography when I was about 14 going on 15 I think, and I’m worried that it’s become engrained in my head too deeply or something. I generally feel sort of disgusted with myself after masturbating to pornography and it generally puts me in a slightly worse mood. I’m sort of worried that if or when I get the chance to lose my virginity, I’ll fail to perform and some deeply entrenched psychological stuff will just render me useless in such a situation. I’m not even unpopular with girls. My friends always tell me that I’m the handsome one and that girls they know are always asking them who I am and all this sort of stuff. But I’m just hopeless when it comes to consummating any sort of relationship.

I should also probably mention that I can lose my temper quite rabidly sometimes. Videogames mainly do this if I get stuck on something for ages. It hasn’t been happening quite as often recently and perhaps I’m growing out of it but I’m worried that underneath it all I’m just really angry or something. I don’t get into ferocious arguments with people or my parents or anything, and I’m certainly not a fighter either. People don’t really spark my temper. But sometimes things can just make me enfuriated.

Sorry for detailing all these seemingly irrelevant things but I just want to give you a broader picture. I’m trying to piece together all these things to perhaps arrive at a better understanding of myself. I’m considering attending Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to perhaps learn how to deal with my ocd which I think I may have.

It just freaks me out because when I read about those Columbine guys, they were considered to be really normal, and yet when you read their journals, they’re really intense. Obviously a lot of what they say is really insane, but sometimes I sort of understand them. Eric Harris goes on about how everything is man made except math and science, which is something I agree with more or less thanks to my studies, and it also depresses me a bit. They both seem to be the smart quiet ones or something and that’s sort of like me. Obviously they both have a lot of extreme views that I don’t agree with and that I think are totally ignorant, but just when they talk about violence being the truest thing about human nature and all that. I’m not a violent person, but I sort of agree on some level. I don’t think it’s the only truth about human nature, but I definitely think it’s a big one. And it really worries me how I compare to those guys on some levels. As well as that Eric Harris was on an SSRI like me albeit a different one. I certainly don’t want to massacre hundreds of people without remorse, but I’m worried that my mental condition could get worse and worse and make me dangerous or something.

I know you’ll probably just direct me to CBT or a Psychiatrist or something, but I’d greatly appreciate it if you could give me some sort of an opinion as well as this. And also, apologies for the exhaustive length of this post.
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replied January 28th, 2011
I've been diagnosed as a sociopath and I gotta tell ya, you don't sound like one. Along with being schizophrenic and having asperger's syndrome, I'm a sociopath. I have antisocial personality disorder. It sounds to me like you just have some issues with anxiety and depression. These thoughts that you are having may very well be stemming from your OCD. My cousin has OCD and had a fear that she had cancer for no reason for the longest time.
I know that in my case, I was really good at being manipulative and would compulsively lie all the time. I would also steal things and have trouble taking directions from authority. I listen to heavy music, but I know a lot of people who are perfectly fine and listen to non radio friendly tunes. When I'm not taking my medication, I don't "feel". It seems that I have no emotions but anger. Do you ever feel this way?
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replied February 1st, 2011
Thanks very much for taking the time to read and respond. I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis and I hope you find an effective way to remedy it if you haven't already. I have a few questions.
If it's not too unpleasant for you to discuss, could you perhaps give me an example of how you acted manipulatively? Or examples of how you lied compulsively?

With regards to your remark about anger. I can't say I do experience that, but then I don't really know exactly how intense the anger you feel is.
I mean, any anger in my life - I think i'm starting to realize - seems to be borne out of sexual frustration, and I intend to correct this. It's this frustration that seems to be effecting my ability to express other emotions. That said I don't think i'm an angry or violent person, but I can occasionally have a bad temper.

I'm actually attending my first CBT session tomorrow, and I'm hoping that'll help me deal with my OCD thought patterns. Have you tried this?
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