MY PAST LIFE is littered with callous and unemotional characters. I have just realised some of them qualify as dysvoluntary people.
In the Media Writing module I teach at the Limerick School of Art & Design, students will meet several of my dysvoluntary friends on screen.
I worked alongside several ruthless, fearless and conscienceless friends in the late 80s. They were efficient, funny and charming as well as blissfully oblivious to the angst unleashed by their actions.
Typical psychopaths exhibit callous and unemotional character traits. They are dishonest, manipulative, aggressive, cruel and take risks impulsively. I could write these words on two gravestones and those interred would take pride in my labels.
But they might not know what I'm carving if I also refer to them as dysvoluntary, a term emerging in the research around the study of voluntary and involuntary actions. Someone who is dysvoluntary could theoretically control their actions but they find it extremely difficult to do so. In a dysvoluntary mind, free will gets ambushed by intense urges.
And so when I look back on the suicides of two ex-colleagues, I wonder if they could have been diagnosed as dysvoluntary. But then I look around at the research and know the support structures just were not in place.