Dr. Gabor Mate’s compassionate approach to understanding trauma and issue of addiction and disease provided me a new framework to see illness, including so-called personality disorder.
Whether it is diabetes, cancer, ADHD, or arthritis, all disturbances that have come to be treated as illness in our society are not necessarily illnesses. Whether it is psychopathy, or narcissistic personality disorder, pathology is not disease that needs to be eradicated.
I am starting to understand that these are symptoms of loss of our spiritual identity. Perhaps, an illness manifested in our body and disorders in our personality is a voice from our authentic self, trying to get our attention. They are disembodied parts of ourselves that want to be re-membered by us.
From this point of view, I ask. What is psychopathy? The hallmark is absence of empathy and a deceptive nature. Individuals who exhibit psychopathic traits engage in social hiding, by creating elaborate masks, mirroring deepest desires of those they have their eyes on and fooling others to get what they want.
This toxic behavior can be seen as a kind of coping mechanism. They are trying to compensate for something they lack, because they learned early on in their life that this is the way that they get validation and love. By repeatedly doing it, they become addicted and lost in a personality that is cut off from its source and this gives them illusions about who they are.
This abstraction that psychopaths are trapped in only reflect light from outside. This light is merely a spectacle through which they try to see themselves, but cannot.
In a sense, they are rootless orphans looking for their mother – a darkness looking for the light that created them. Maybe, psychopaths are just extreme cases and manifestations or symptoms of this loss of self. In one way or another, we all have parts of ourselves that are fragmented.
Invalidation, shame and neglect –original injuries in early stages of our lives cut us off from our soul. This schism creates a divide between the mind and body and blocks us from accepting love that has been there from the beginning of our lives.
These parts of us that are split from ourselves hide and escape from us. They want to be seen, but not to be identified with ourselves. They want to be witnessed with the presence of compassion. It is the heart that can re-member these disjoined parts of ourselves.
Perhaps the pathology of our society – wars, violence, environmental destruction and predatory capitalism, all are symptoms of our loss of self. They need our compassionate understanding, rather than just shunning away, fighting or trying to fix them. These are not political issues alone, but deeply psychological and spiritual. This opens a whole new approach to activism and social justice.