P is for Pathological.

P is for Pathological.

Pathological has a negative stigma attached to it. People hear pathological and their first thoughts are of pathological liars or pathological murderers and they think pathological means people like to do it a lot. They think those people are able to control their actions but have something ‘wrong’ with them or that they are ‘bad’. Yes, lying and murder are wrong, but the word pathological isn’t.

Pathological basically means inherent/pervasive/all-encompassing. Pathological means the way it works, the typical features of it. Using the word pathological, while it is commonly used for diseases, can explain features of a person’s personality and/or behaviour. If someone is a pathological liar then their brain works in such a way that they are unable to not lie. Just as a disease is unable to be something other than a disease. Yet humans are far more complex than a simple disease and so are able to find ways around their pathology if given a chance.

Simply put, humans are pathologically human, we are pathologically intelligent (when compared to most species), we are pathologically designed to mate and survive, the same way a lion is pathologically designed to hunt food.

So if pathological describes that main part of what we are, then the term pathological used to describe those with a set of traits such as those diagnosed with PDA then that means that those traits are inherently who they are, and are (to some degree) unable to be changed.

After all, you wouldn’t try to stop a fish from swimming or a bird from flying. Sure if a fish kept swimming (Nemo-like) into the filter then we would try to adapt the filter to prevent it from getting stuck. Sure if a bird kept flying into a building and getting distressed then we would remember to close the doors so it can’t get in. Sure, when PDA people struggle to contain their negative emotions we will try to adapt their environment so it doesn’t triggers those negative emotions again. Humans are intelligent enough and have a greater level of awareness and understanding of ourselves than most species, so naturally we are able to lead other humans to a better way of living. We can show them how to manage their own environment and handle their emotions in healthier ways. We cannot remove the pathological part from ourselves anymore than I could remove the skin tissue from my body. I wouldn’t be me (or alive) without it, similarly I wouldn’t be me without my pathological demand avoidance. Of course there are parts of PDA I don’t like, just as there are parts of my biological make-up that I don’t like. There are also parts of both that I do like and parts that I love.

I like the word pathological, it fits, it makes sense, it does what it says on the tin. I don’t want people thinking I can switch my demand avoidance on or off at a whim, like I’m in control, that wouldn’t be accurate at all. Pathological shows that it is so ingrained in me that I cannot fully control it, any more than I can control my skin getting goose bumps in the cold. If people don’t like the term pathological because they think the negative stereotypes associated with it make it look bad then tough. I’m happy to educate them. It’s who I am and I’ll describe myself how I like. As long as I’m not hurting anyone then it shouldn’t matter to others how I describe myself, especially if they have no knowledge/understanding of what PDA is.

P is for Pathological.

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3 thoughts on “P is for Pathological.

  1. Great post lovely, and eye opening. I have always associated the word with bad, but yet never linked PDA and bad. I love reading your posts as I like to hear your side of the story. Thank you for linking up to #spectrumsunday I hope you join me again this week xx

  2. I think we tend to overlook the fact that sometimes demands should be avoided, when we use a label with negative connotations, whether or not they should be there. How come we see people who always go along with whatever’s asked of them as psychologically healthy? Perhaps we could call them “pathologically compliant” but they’re much more convenient, particularly in an educational or work setting. Or when you’re trying to sell them something, for that matter.

    I’d prefer to use the word “resistant” for my daughter. She resists demands, ideas, orders etc. until she’s had a chance to examine them, try them out, see whether they “fit” or are the best way to do something. Unfortunately she resisted them quite dramatically when at school, with predictable consequences! But yes, she was just being who she IS, and we as a society do need the people who question orders, the whistleblowers, the people who don’t accept that things should just stay the way they are now forever. Even when they resist these things in a way that seems unreasonable to others…

    Most of the definitions of “pathological” that I’ve come across say something like “arising from mental illness” which is so very unfair. My daughter is not mentally ill; she just doesn’t work the same way as most people, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    1. Some good points 🙂 I also do the, resisting some demands until I’ve had the chance to assess them and find a better alternative (I usually do too), it might seem to others like I’m rejecting their ideas or that I think I’m better at finding solutions to things than them. I suppose it might, but I’ve come to realise it’s not something I can help and I often can think of a better or easier way of doing things. It’s great that you are so understanding of your daughter and the way she works. She’s lucky to have such a super parent 😀

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