Nearly everyone has heard of “Antisocial Personality Disorder”. It is known as a chronic mental health condition, sometimes known as psychopathic or sociopathic personality disorder, or sociopathy. It is characterized by a pattern of manipulation and exploiting others, affecting roughly 7.6 million people in the United States. (HRF) As defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), it is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.” People with the disorder may disregard social norms, continuously lie, place others at risk for their own behavior, and demonstrate a profound lack of remorse. In Sandra Cisneros’ “Never Marry a Mexican”, a woman introduced named Clemencia, displays all signs of antisocial personality disorder. As she states, “I will never marry. Not any man.” She is known to witness men’s infidelities and has helped them to it. She has agreed to and contributed to their secretive behavior by sleeping with them. She has been the accomplice and committed premeditated crimes. She is guilty of causing deliberate pain to other women. Being vindictive and cruel, she is capable of anything. (Cisneros 68) There was a time when she wanted to belong to a man, but chose to “borrow” them instead. She only wanted the “sweetest part of the fruit, without the bitter skin that daily living with a spouse can rend. (Cisneros 69) Men typically go to her only when they want to have sexual encounters with her. She has never married, and never will. Not because she couldn’t, but because she believes she is too romantic for marriage. Marriage has failed her. Every man has disappointed her. She believes it is “better not to marry than to live a lie.” (Cisneros 69) With her mother marrying her Mexican father at the age of seventeen, her mother endured the grief of a Mexican family that can be put on a girl from being from el otro lado, “the other side.” Her father married down, by marrying her. If he would’ve married a white woman things would have been different. (Cisneros 69) Instead, in Clemencia’s opinion, what he did was ridiculous to marry a Mexican girl who couldn’t even speak English, who didn’t even know enough to set a separate plate for each course at dinner, or know how to fold cloth napkins, or set the silverware. (Cisneros 69) This shows from at an early age she had a bad image of her mother.
In her early years of life, she was developing her antisocial personality disorder that had not yet displayed itself. Antisocial Personality Disorder can be hereditary, result from a person’s genes, or it can be from unknown factors that cause mental illness. Mental illness does not always have a specific reason why. In can also result from being subjected to abuse or neglect in childhood. Many times, the cause is unknown. (Medline Plus) During childhood, it usually begins by a behavioral or emotional problem. Children and adolescents with the disorder have a harder time behaving in an a socially acceptable way. (Healthline) She adored her father and seemingly, couldn’t stand her mother. Her mother wasn’t good enough and was an embarrassment to her. This could possibly be at the onset of her disorder. Because her mother told her repeatedly, to never marry a Mexican, she blames her mother for her never wanting to get married at all, especially a Mexican, leading her into a life full of wrongfulness, to sleep with married men. With her lack of self-responsibility or accountability, wanting to put the blame on her mother for “making her that way,” not having any remorse, and purposely wanting to hurt other women clearly displays her antisocial personality disorder.
We cannot choose our parents, and as children, we genuinely are at their mercy. But as adults, we are capable of making our own decisions and do things differently. With having a less than desirable childhood, or experiencing things that may be hurtful or difficult to accept, how are we justified and given the right to be revengeful, spiteful, or act in an unacceptable manner? Are we justified in acting any way we choose because of our past? Is it right to blame others for the choices we choose to make as adults? In today’s society it somehow is acceptable to blame our parents, or others, for our decisions, or lack thereof, and hold everyone else accountable, except ourselves. Yes, we may have come from a childhood or background that is not ideal, or the way we would have liked it to be, but that cannot be a justification to act maliciously. As adults, it is up to us how we choose to act and react to situations in our life, without blaming anyone else for those choices or actions. Clemencia chose to keep her negative attitude towards her mother and refused to forgive and let go of the pain from her past, but wants to blame her mother for her adult behavior. It doesn’t appear her mother made the best choices herself, by making her children feel as if they didn’t matter, and making them feel as if after their father died, she died too. Clemencia felt as if she never had a mother. And when her mother married the “white man”, with him and his boys moving into her father’s house, it was as if she stopped being her mother.” (Cisneros 73) Instead of having any sympathy or apathy for her mother, loving and supporting her, for what seems to be her mother’s depression, we can assume, from her mother “always being sick and too worried about her own life” to care about her children. (Cisneros 73) While I do not agree with her mother’s behavior towards her children, I do believe she had every right to make a new life for herself. She didn’t necessarily go about it in the best or most effective way, but she didn’t deserve Clemencia’s disrespectful behavior towards her, her criticism, hate, and judgement. It is understandable that Clemencia was very upset over her mother’s unfaithfulness, while her father was sick and in the hospital. But even that, does not justify her treating her mother badly or choosing to not even stand next to her in the hospital room while her father was dying. This is another example of her self-centeredness. She cared more about how she was feeling rather than her mother, or sister for that matter. She purposely wanted to hurt her mother and inflict the same pain on her that she experienced. She sees her mother as extremely selfish, but in essence, she is no better. Actually, she is worse. She resents her mother’s infidelity, but willfully sleeps with married men herself. She chooses to sleep with married men and cause deliberate pain to women. She has made the conscious decisions to do these things. She cannot blame her choices on her mother, her past, or any reason.
Not only does Clemencia suffer from antisocial personality disorder, she is narcissistic as well. She has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and feels a sense of entitlement, helping herself to men, all men, without a care in the world if they are married or not. She is exploitative of others, arrogant, believes she has ultimate power over others, has a sense of superiority, and is cunning and manipulative. All of this is obvious signs of narcissism. (Mayo Clinic) She lacks empathy and has always gotten a crazy sense of joy to be able to “kill women, without them knowing it.” (Cisneros 77) For instance, she derives pleasure out of sleeping with men when their wives are in the hospital giving birth. She repulsively sleeps with men in their homes, and more disgustingly; sleeps with them in the beds they share with their wives. She found great pleasure in her behavior, primarily with Drew, a married man she was having an affair with. She felt no sorrow or remorse, particularly because Drew’s wife, Megan, was a white woman. As she says, she didn’t give a damn about that woman. That is clearly evident. She may have had a harder time living with herself for what she had done, but since Megan wasn’t a brown woman like her, she didn’t care.
Megan wasn’t her sister, “her kind.” She didn’t care about what was “right” anymore. (Cisneros 76) She is vicious and vindictive. She has a sense of superiority, not only because she is narcissistic, but also because she is Mexican. For example, she telephones Drew one night, drunk, at four o’clock in the morning and woke his wife up, “the bitch” she laughed for weeks “what a stupid ass to pass the phone over to the lug asleep beside her.” (Cisneros 77) She finds Megan’s politeness and respect amusing, assuming she is weak and stupid. The lack of caring about what she did and carried no guilt behind sleeping with a white woman’s husband, but possibly would’ve had a harder time with what she had done if Megan was brown like her reveals more of her antisocial personality and narcissism. She feels a sense of racial superiority. “No Mexican woman would react like that” (Cisneros 77) handing over the phone. As if sleeping with Megan’s husband isn’t bad enough, for Clemencia to call Drew in the middle of the night knowing Megan would be there, is the ultimate reflection of her self-centeredness and narcissism.
Contrarily however, she also feels inferior and she is jealous. The night she met Megan, she quickly looked down at her own shoes, feeling ashamed of how old they looked. Every time she was in Drew and Megan’s home, she found herself looking at all the things in the bathroom that were Megan’s. Her jealousy was so powerful; it drove her to the point of becoming childish and spiteful. One evening while Drew cooked dinner, she took out a pack of gummy bears, leaving trails of them everywhere she knew Megan would find them. She got a strange satisfaction with this ridiculous behavior. In addition to her leaving gummy bears where Megan would question where they came from, she also took one of her dolls, the tiniest baby, putting it in her jacket pocket, touching it throughout dinner. Every time she touched it, it made her feel good. As she dropped the wooden toy into the muddy creek “where winos piss and rats swim,” it gave her a feeling like nothing before or since she did it. She then went home and slept like the dead. (Cisneros 82) She wanted power, and genuinely believed she would acquire it. Sleeping with Drew’s son as well, she wanted him to love her, the way she loved his father. Her grandiosity, feeling a sense of superiority, is demonstrated through her belief Drew’s son is nothing without her, and she has him in her power. “I paint and repaint you the way I see fit, even now. After all these years. Did you know that? Little fool.” (Cisneros 75) She thinks she makes the world look at him through her eyes, stating “if that’s not power, what is”? (Cisneros 75)
While Clemencia’s pain and anger is understandable, it is unacceptable to conduct herself in the preposterous ways that she has. As I can her appreciate her antisocial personality and narcissistic traits stemming from her childhood, I do not think she is justified in her adult behavior. She wants to be good, but chooses to be immoral and wicked. She purposely causes agony and destruction to others to make them feel the same way she has, and enjoys doing so. She is unwilling to hold herself accountable. Nor is she willing to deal with her own pain or choose to let it go. She would rather take it out on innocent people. Knowing she is cruel, she continues to make the conscious decision to hurt others. She finds it acceptable and reasonable to act and feel the way she does, even with knowing it is clearly wrong. Yes, antisocial personality disorder and narcissism are mental disorders that can be inherited. However, they are not an excuse to act bad and mean. It is up to the individual to get themselves help if they genuinely want to get better. If Clemencia was truly remorseful for her behavior, wanted to heal, and let go of the pain from her past, she would seek help. She would do whatever it takes to get herself emotionally and mentally healthy and stable. She would stop her scandalous behavior, instead of selfishly satisfying her own needs and desires. Her gratification should not be at the expense of others.
I do not feel sympathy for this woman who chooses to be the perpetrator of others pain and demise. Due to the fact that she can and does recognize what she has done is bad and wrong, proves she is capable of making good choices, but continually chooses not to. She can heal from her past, and learn to forgive her mother and herself, so that she can live a healthy life, free of excuses, blame, and torment to others. Her past does not warrant her hurting others in any way. Regardless of her pain, having the attitude of “you hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you back,” is not a healthy or logical way to deal with things. Most people do not get pleasure or satisfaction out of doing things that are very morally and ethically wrong, especially causing that kind of pain to others. The better we think, feel, and behave, contribute positively to our emotional and mental state. It matters to do what’s right and to hold ourselves responsible and accountable to feel good about ourselves. It’s also important to be good examples to our children, our families, and others. You never know who is looking up to you, or the influence, or impact you may have on someone. I believe Cisneros wrote about this woman to open our eyes and minds to see how our behavior can truly affect others. I think she writes in a way to bring subjects to light and to make people think. We can have a positive or negative impact on ourselves and others. Ultimately, the choice is ours.
Cisneros, Sandra. “Never Marry a Mexican.” Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Vintage Books Publishing, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, 1992, pp. 68-83.
“Diseases and Conditions: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic –personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con
“14 Odd Antisocial Personality Disorder Statistics.” Healthresearchfunding.org/antisocial-personality-disorder-statistics
“Antisocial Personality Disorder.” http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalance/antisocial-personality-disorder