My 23 year old son was scapegoated and bullied by his father when he was a child and teen (which I’ve written about before). As the most sensitive and nervous child in the family who was able to see through his father’s malignant narcissism, his father began to target him for abuse when it became clear to him my son had a good built-in bullshit detector.
When he was 17 he moved out of our home to stay with a female police officer who worked at his school. She was very supportive but after awhile he decided to move back in with us briefly. When he turned 18, he moved to another state and has not been back, although he does talk to me on a regular basis. Due to lack of funds, I’ve only seen him 3 times since he moved out in 2010. He is doing well though–working two jobs, one as a management trainee for a chain of convenience stores in the Tampa, Florida area, the other as a Carraba’s server where he sometimes pulls in as much as $700 in a single weekend.
He has many interests and talents, including dancing, animation, and filmmaking (which is what he really would love to do). He came out as gay when he was 17. After that happened, he transformed from being a nerdy, nervous teenager with few friends to a very popular young man with a geeky, eccentric sort of cool and many friends. He doesn’t do drugs or smoke. He drinks, but doesn’t appear to have an alcohol problem.
I thought he somehow emerged unscathed from the family dysfunction. He shows no signs of having any personality disorder, although he has reported having panic attacks and he tends to be obsessive in his thinking. He’s also prone to depressions.
Tonight we talked to each other on the phone for awhile and he described his obsessive thinking. He worries about locking the door, for example, and has to keep going back to check to make sure he locked it. He hates having anything dripped on him, and that can set off a rage attack. They are like panic attacks, but instead of panic, he feels rage. He doesn’t act on the rage, but he feels it. Then he feels guilty for feeling that way. He doesn’t like people approaching him from behind and is jumpy and wants to attack when that happens. He worries incessantly about the impression he makes on others and suffers from occasional paranoia, and thinks others are out to hurt him, even when there is no rational reason for him to think this.
It sounds to me like he suffers from a severe anxiety disorder, and probably has OCD. He can afford health insurance now, so I told him to please see a therapist who can find out if what he has is OCD or something else, and possibly give him some medication and therapy. He’s willing to do this. I still think he’s the most mentally healthy person in the immediate family, and the only one who is doing well financially and doesn’t appear to have a personality disorder, but he’s far from unscathed from the abuse inflicted on him, and his hypervigilance and anxiety is no doubt due to that (though there could be a biological component too).