You have the wrong ideas about therapy. Therapists don’t “control” people. Therapy is optional. The only people forced to go to therapy are those who have been court-ordered. The “control” in that situation is through the court, not the therapist.
People attend counseling for a variety of reasons, some of which include analyzing their thinking processes, decision making, stopping a particular behavior, and gaining clarity about their life in general, and others. Wanting clarification about a particular diagnosis is another good reason to consult a mental health professional.
You asked about sociopathy. The term is often confused with psychopathy. Among those who study psychopathy, they doubt whether sociopathy exists. Among clinicians in America, an individual who demonstrates traits of psychopathy would be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy share overlapping traits but there are meaningful differences between the two.
Though you did provide many details in your letter, it’s impossible to make a diagnosis over the internet. For instance, when you say that you have “extremely selective empathy” what exactly do you mean? What does “extremely selective” mean to you? It may mean one thing to you and something different to me. How you define it, and in what context, are important elements in determining a diagnosis.
There are alternative explanations for your behavior. For instance, you said that you watch death videos. That is not uncommon. Take for instance the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, in which the killer live streamed the event. In the first 24 hours, Facebook publicly stated that they moved 1.5 million videos of the attack globally. That over 1.5 million people wanted to watch a video of a man shooting innocent people in a church speaks volumes. Even the people who were advising others not to watch it, watched it themselves. They were apparently curious.
The New York Times recently profiled another website that shows videos of death. This type of website exists because people are interested in its content. Some people describe even enjoying these videos. However, that enjoyment seems to decrease over time. The more they were watching, the more their anxiety increased.
Generally speaking, it’s advisable not to watch these sorts of videos in excess but my main point is that it’s not uncommon for people to watch them. It doesn’t make them psychopaths. Certainly, some who watch them are psychopaths because statistically one out of every 100 people is a psychopath but most people are not. Sometimes, people watch these videos because they are simply curious about the reality of human nature.
You stated that you wouldn’t kill anyone because you’re too afraid of the lawful consequences. Psychopaths would kill if they wanted to, regardless of any consequences. In a manner of speaking, they follow their own set of laws.
You mentioned that you don’t think you can form emotional connections but how do you define emotional connections? The way you define it may be very different than how I define it.
You have friends but “would have no problem cutting them off forever.” That’s fairly common.
The people we call friends may not in actuality be that close. The most psychologically healthy people typically only have a few friends mainly because it takes a great deal of time and effort to develop meaningful friendships.
Think of all the people who claim to be “friends” with their co-workers or peers at school and once they leave that job or graduate from college, they often never speak to those so-called friends again.
Ideally, you should consult a therapist who was specifically trained in using The Psychopathy Checklist. The Psychopathy Checklist is the diagnostic measure that is considered the gold standard in determining whether or not an individual has psychopathy. A mental health professional trained to utilize this checklist would also conduct a semi-structured interview, review all available records and gather other clinical information before determining a diagnosis.
If you’re worried about your psychological health, you should consult a professional. We are not born knowing how to live. In fact, we’re not born knowing anything. We all had to learn to read, tie our shoes, and do all other things. Seeking out knowledge about how to live a meaningful life is anything but silly. Why not consult a therapist who has received specialized training in these areas? Sounds like a wise idea to me. Good luck with your efforts.
Dr. Kristina Randle