Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Brain Illness?

I was listening to a program on NPR about the fight against gangs. One guest stated that gangs, in and of themselves, are not bad, it is the activities they undertake that are bad. He says gangs are a part of human nature and that, with the exception of illegal activity, are the same as clubs, teams, families, and clicks. He illustrates the need for human interaction by saying:

"If you put 50 people in a stadium, they will not spread out with 23 seats between each of them... they will sit in a group. Unless they are antisocial, which is an illness of the brain."

Do I have a brain illness? I'll tell you right now that if I was in a stadium of 50 strangers I would immediately search out the most isolated corner.

I've always know that I'm a "non-social butterfly" but I never thought that qualified me as sick in the head.

I enjoy the company of my husband and children, I like visiting with other family members and a few close friends (as long as it isn't too long or too often), I work well with coworkers, I smile at the short lady who asks me to hand her the bread on the top shelf of the grocery store isle, I make small talk with acquaintances, I even tell the UPS guy to have a nice day!

But I guess I do use the self checkout at the store to avoid an overly chatty cashier, and it takes all my energy not to ram annoying shoppers with my cart, and I think a solo vacation would be great, and I would rather read a book than go to a party with a bunch of people I don't know, and I purposely wear earphones when working outside so neighbors will not talk to me.

Hmmm... maybe it's a close call.

I decided to consult a more reliable source than "the guest on NPR" and of course went directly to Wikipedia. The American Psychiatric Association defines antisocial as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."

Okay, I'm feeling better... I certainly don't try to violate anyones rights.

The definition continues... More specifically, 3 of the following criteria must be met to warrant an antisocial diagnosis:

-Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
-Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
-Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
-Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
-Reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
-Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
-Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Sweet, I think I'm in the clear.

Conclusion: The guest on NPR is an idiot and the reason I avoid people, particularly strangers, is because I fear they will be as stupid as he is.

Have a nice day!

- Smarty Pants

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