My whole life, I had struggled with patterns of behaviour and emotion that I knew were “bad,” but couldn’t seem to control. I lied compulsively about things that didn’t make sense. I was terrified of being abandoned, to the point that I became furiously, sometimes abusively, upset if I thought that my friends were hanging out without me. I was full of self-loathing and anger that I bottled up, and then released by self-injuring.
Yes, we’re visiting the pages of Everyday Feminism. How could you tell?
And, of course, I had grown up as a closeted trans girl of colour in a cis, white supremacist society.
So far, so humdrum.
Ever since I could remember, I had been filled with rage and fear and self-loathing as a result of the constant messages that society, friends, and family sent me that said I was deviant, bad, wrong to the core.
A chronic rage that, we’re told, prompted some introspection, of a sort, and a peek inside a textbook on abnormal psychology:
My “symptoms” fit the profile of a mental disorder called Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition closely associated with psychopathy. It was, the textbook said, historically considered untreatable.
Oh, I’m sure lashings of strident feminism and identitarian seething will put that right in no time. No? The author of this cheerless tale, Ms Kai Cheng Thom, a “trans woman writer, poet and performance artist based in Montreal,” then goes on to bemoan the fact that “disorders like violent psychopathy” are “generally considered unlikeable,” possibly hazardous, “even in social circles that consider themselves progressive.” And that, while the public at large may be sympathetic towards people suffering clinical depression, “compassion for psychopaths, pathological liars, or narcissists” is, inexplicably, harder to come by. It’s all terribly unfair. Because incorrigible monsters bent on the manipulation and harm of others have feelings too:
It makes sense to manipulate others into giving you love when you’ve never been able to get it any other way.
Sometimes I wonder, where is the “illness” really — is it the people whose psychological and physical suffering causes them to react with rage, fear, and yes, sometimes violence to the traumatising effects of an oppressive society? Or is it society that is sick?
Violence is the symptom of a system that is larger than individual people.
At which point, readers may wish to bear in mind that those inclined to habitual manipulation, violence and dishonesty do tend to displace responsibility for their behaviour onto others, onto “society,” pretty much anywhere else. It’s kind of what they do. An image that comes to mind is of an abusive partner leaning in close and whispering, “Don’t make me hurt you, baby. You know I hate doing that.”
Still, our poet and performance artist insists that something must be done:
Rejection of those we deem too aggressive to function in mainstream society is not a good enough answer.
Well. Fixing the “traumatising effects” of an allegedly oppressive “white supremacist society” – one that’s insufficiently accommodating of violent and abusive personalities - sounds like a rather grand and time-consuming project. On a practical level, and at risk of sounding unsympathetic, it’s much easier to simply avoid the company of violent and manipulative shits and pathological liars. Indeed, offering “empathy and support” to such people and being drawn into their dramas, as we’re being asked to do, seems a recipe for exploitation, abuse and most likely regret. And asking for such sounds an awful lot like bait.
I spoil you, I really do.