Two new header tabs!


Because I write so much about my Aspergers, I realized it would be easier for my readers to find related articles if I made a kind of “Table of Contents” listing the relevant posts. I decided to do the same for my Avoidant Personality Disorder, even though I haven’t written too much about it (my Aspergers and Avoidant traits tend to blend together so there’s a lot of overlap).

Living with Avoidant Personality Disorder

Living with Aspergers

Later, I may add an additional tab about BPD, but because my articles about BPD tend to blend in with the NPD and general Cluster B disorders articles (of which there are far too many to list in a header tab), it would be a lot more difficult to separate them. It would also be harder to pick out the ones applying only to my own experience in having BPD, from those talking about BPD in general. Anyway, my header graphic pretty much announces that this blog is primarily about narcissism and BPD (which I’ve been writing a lot more about recently).

What’s up with this crazy idea that narcissism and Aspergers are the same thing?


As a person with Aspergers who has been a victim of narcissists all my life, the difference seems pretty clear to me, but to some people, including mental health professionals, high-functioning autism (Aspergers) and narcissism are seen as the same disorder!

A thread on Wrong Planet, a forum for people with autism and Aspergers (a high functioning form of autism) discusses the confusion, with people on both sides of the Aspergers=Narcissism fence. Cited there is an article from Psychology Today, which quotes Sam Vaknin who believes narcissism is an autism spectrum disorder! The British psychiatrist Dr. Khalid A. Mansour concurs.

Clearly, some people don’t understand much about high functioning autism/Aspergers. Yes, I believe it’s possible for a person to be both a narcissist AND on the autism spectrum (an example might be Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, especially as he was portrayed in the movie “The Social Network“), but they are two vastly different disorders.

Appearances are only skin deep.


I understand where the confusion comes from. On the surface, the two disorders can appear similar. People on the autism spectrum may seem as if they lack empathy because they do not express their emotions well, which of course includes showing empathy. They also sometimes blurt out inappropriate or hurtful things, not because they mean to, but because they honestly don’t know any better: they have great difficulty reading social cues. They can appear selfish and sometimes get angry or upset when their routines are interrupted or they are forced to pull themselves away from their solitary pursuits to engage with others. They can also violate the boundaries of others. All of these surface behaviors may look a lot like narcissism.

But appearances are only skin deep, and this is where any similarity ends. Lack of empathy seems to be the most commonly mentioned “characteristic” of both Aspies and narcissists. But in actuality, as far as empathy is concerned, a person with autism/Aspergers is the polar opposite of a narcissist. A narcissist cannot feel empathy, but can act as if they do. They are good actors and can fake emotion they do not feel. They can lie well; Aspies cannot lie or lie very badly. People with Aspergers and high functioning autism are great at picking up the emotions of others around them and are even sometimes overwhelmed by other people’s emotions (which sometimes makes them withdraw and that can make them seem like they lack empathy). They can be bad at expressing empathy because of their inability to read social cues or know what to say and do. Therefore, Aspies can feel empathy but often act as if they do not.


Narcissists can say hurtful or damaging things because (a) they don’t care how you feel; or (b) because they want to hurt you. People with autism/Aspergers say hurtful things too sometimes, but it’s never intentional and they do care how you feel. If they are told they said something hurtful, most autists/Aspies are consumed with guilt and will sincerely apologize. They blurt things out because they sometimes do not know it’s not appropriate to do so.

Aspies and autists hate to have their comforting routines interrupted because repetition is something that grounds and relaxes them. A low functioning person with autism will sometimes perform repetitive movements or repeat a phrase over and over. This is how they cope with too much stimuli coming in. If they are interrupted, a low-functioning autist may fly into a rage or have a temper tantrum. Disengaging and switching gears is impossible for them.

At the higher end of the spectrum, an Aspie or high functioning autist may not repeat the same word or action over and over, but they have their hobbies and obsessions which they pursue with a single-minded intensity. They tend to hyper-focus on whatever interests them. If they are interrupted from whatever their mind is focused on, they may snap at you or become very annoyed. They can switch gears if they must but they hate doing it.

A narcissist may also snap or become annoyed, but not because they have difficulty switching gears but because they are just plain selfish and don’t want to do something that might please someone else besides themselves. Think of the narcissistic husband playing a video game. His wife comes into the room and asks for some help opening a stuck window. The husband flies into a rage and tells her he’s busy and to do it herself. It’s not because he’s that engrossed in the game or even cares about it that much, it’s because he doesn’t want to put himself out for his wife. For an Aspie or autist, the game engages all of their senses and their mind is extremely focused. They simply can’t pull away from it.


A person with autism or Aspergers can and do violate the boundaries of others. Again, this is because they can’t read social cues well enough to know when they are violating someone else’s boundaries. A narcissist knows full well when they are violating boundaries, but they simply do not care.

A forum member on Wrong Planet sums up the confusion this way:

To me it’s as absurd as comparing the small narcissistic child recklessly driving a car, to a person trying to cross the street in a wheelchair, and saying they have a lot in common because they both have a set of wheels.

I think mental health professionals and others who believe narcissism and Aspergers are on the same spectrum need to dig a lot deeper before they make such sweeping generalizations. They are not the same disorder at all and are certainly not on the same spectrum. Aspergers/high functioning autism is a neurodevelopmental deficit and really a type of learning disability; narcissism is a moral deficit.

For further reading, please see my article, People with Autism Do Not Lack Empathy!
Also see The Spectrums of Autism and Narcissism.

Why I warn people I have Aspergers.


At the time I wrote this post, I thought I had Aspergers.  I don’t.  But I still think this is good advice if you do or even if you don’t.  It could get you out of a lot of awkward situations.   

Most neurotypicals don’t get Aspies. Although there’s a certain cachet now for Aspies on the Internet (because so many of us feel more at home online than in the real world), in the neurotypical world, we’re still socially awkward oddballs who don’t fit in.

I noticed if I say nothing about having this disorder, people tend to treat me like I’m stupid, snobbish, or annoying, or sometimes all three! As Rodney Dangerfield (who probably didn’t have Aspergers) used to say, “I can’t get no respect!”

On top of my Aspergers, I’m also avoidant — AND I have hearing issues. As a child, I had a lot of ear infections so I have only 10-20% hearing in my left ear. My Avoidant personality and hearing deficit both tend to exacerbate my Aspie traits, so when it comes to being able to interact normally in a social setting, I just plain suck at it. I usually just stay quiet but people still think I’m probably a cold and unfriendly person, if not stupid.

I didn’t make this graph but it made me laugh.

I found a sort of solution to this problem, and found that it does improve the way people treat me. It’s a very simple solution. I TELL people I have Aspergers (and hearing problems). No further explanation is generally required. If they know in advance that my brain is differently wired and keeps me from reading social cues well and that I also don’t hear very well (from my left side), then they tend to be more patient and become less annoyed at me for asking them to repeat things, saying something awkward, or saying nothing at all.

At first it embarrassed me to tell near-strangers that I have a mental disorder differently wired brain (I don’t tell them about the Avoidant PD–it’s not necessary and no one know what it is anyway), but it’s a lot less embarrassing than being thought of as an idiot, a snob, or an annoying person. Doing this gets easier over time. Now, telling someone I barely know I have Aspergers and can’t hear well out of my left ear feels no weirder than telling them I don’t care for shellfish. And it’s usually met with a knowing “Ah, okay then.”

There’s an additional benefit too. If someone doesn’t know much about what Aspergers is, it gives me the opportunity to tell them. Since it’s something I know a lot about, and I like to talk about psychology anyway, telling people I have Aspergers acts as a sort of icebreaker. It disarms them, and sometimes they share something personal with me.

The curse of the Aspergers/Avoidant/Borderline triad.


Today I attended a beautiful Pentecost mass that was held outdoors. The day couldn’t have been more perfect for an outdoor celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ disciples. Unlike the disciples, I didn’t experience a sudden spiritual epiphany or dramatic change in my heart, or start speaking in tongues. But as always when I attend mass, I felt God’s presence around me (if not actually IN me) and felt surrounded by peace and light.

I looked at the tall trees gently swaying in the distance, their bright spring greens illuminated in the bright sunshine against the azure blue sky, and asked God to change me, to let the Holy Spirit flow inside me and fill me with its divine gifts of empathy, unconditional love, and joy. I asked Him to make me a better person who can connect with other people on a meaningful level–and having those gifts would make it so much easier for me to do that.

The truth is, I feel that I’m lacking in all three of these gifts. I do not have NPD and therefore have no desire to act in evil or toxic ways to others, but due to my other disorders–only one of them probably not due to abuse (Aspergers)–I often feel like there’s an emotional blockage keeping me from really being able to connect with other people, to really being able to empathize and feel WITH them the way people who have not been abused and do not have these disorders can do.

This particular triad of disorders is a tragic one. Even having one of these disorders cripples you and isolates you in various ways from others and can lead to a lonely life lacking in meaningful relationships, but having all three at once is devastating. It’s so hard for me to connect with the rest of humanity except on the most abstract level and as a result I’m often so very sad and lonely.

First, being an Aspie (the only disorder I was probably born with) makes it almost impossible for me to read social cues normally and although I can socialize well enough online (because it doesn’t require me to “think on my feet”–I have time to think through what I want to say or how to respond), in the day to day physical world my Aspieness makes me appear awkward and sometimes slow when I am forced to socialize, especially with neurotypicals who don’t understand people with Aspergers, so I avoid people. Due to my awkwardness I was a frequent target of school bullies, and it didn’t take long to learn that it was best to just keep my mouth shut and say nothing. I became painfully shy, fearing ridicule and humiliation. The old adage, “Tis better to say nothing and have others believe you are daft than open your mouth and remove all doubt” has been my motto most of my life.


The other two disorders I have–avoidant AND borderline personality disorders–I am certain were due to years of abuse by my narcissistic mother and to a lesser extent, my codependent father who colluded with her most of the time (although I never really doubted his love for me). The AVPD (a Cluster C “anxious” personality disorder) only exacerbates my Aspergers. They feed off each other.

Avoidants shy away from social contact because of their low self esteem and overwhelming fear of rejection. As a result they are usually painfully shy but can even seem aloof or cold. Avoidants are not schizoid though (people with Schizoid personality disorder dislike other people and prefer a hermit-like lifestyle; they don’t care how others regard them): on the contrary, we WANT friends, we WANT meaningful relationships, we WANT romance, we WANT others to like us–but our fear of engaging with others due to possible rejection keeps us isolated and alone. We build a protective shell of aloofness around ourselves so we can’t be hurt. People with AVPD are risk-averse, and are likely to be underachievers due to their unwillingness to take risks that may expose them to social embarrassment.

An Aspie with AVPD is nearly–or is–a social hermit, but not out of choice, like a person with schizoid personality disorder. Making friends–a skill that comes so naturally to most people–is something most of us never mastered well, if at all. Even having a relaxed conversation or opening ourselves to another human is like rocket science to those of us with both disorders. It’s a wonder that I was even ever able to engage in romantic relationships and have a family. Of course, all the men I dated and of course the one I married were narcissistic, mirroring the toxic dynamics I had with my family of origin.

Like the girl in this cartoon, I can relate to all of this, even the refusal to play charades! I was always terrified of that game because it requires a level of being able to read social cues and an ability to think on your feet, two qualities I don’t possess. And of course, the fear of risk-taking and humiliation.

And that brings us to my borderline personality disorder. BPD is not usually marked by overwhelming shyness or social awkwardness; in fact most borderlines are quite socially adept. But their disorder, like an Avoidant, is fueled by a deep-seated fear of rejection and almost always has its roots in childhood emotional abuse or neglect, as do all the personality disorders.

Borderlines long for close relationships and actively seek them out, but then push others away if they sense the other person might pull away or reject them first. They overreact to slights and are highly sensitive to criticism or rejection. Like a narcissist, they can be difficult to deal with because of this type of selfish oversensitivity can lead them to engage in some of the same antisocial behaviors and game playing people with NPD or even ASPD are guilty of, though not usually to the same degree because people with BPD have a conscience (even if it’s stunted in some) and don’t normally actively seek to hurt others. There are exceptions though–I was shocked and dismayed to read that both the murderer Jodi Arias and serial killer Aileen Wournos were both diagnosed with BPD, though in Wournos’ case, she was also comorbid with ASPD. Still, most borderlines, when they are made aware of how they have hurt their loved ones, feel remorse–but their guilt and shame can make them feel worthless and lead to self-destructive behaviors. It is not a fun disorder.

Though Borderlines are more likely to be self-destructive instead of deliberately destructive to others, this self destructiveness causes huge problems in their ability to form meaningful relationships, and due to their “go away–come closer” way of relating to others, their relationships are usually stormy and short-lived.

Sometimes I feel like either Lucy or Charlie Brown (who I’m pretty sure would have AVPD), and sometimes both of them at once.

I am cursed with the overwhelming shyness and social anxiety of Aspergers and AVPD, but during the rare times I have been able to form relationships or friendships, sooner or later I push those people away in some form or another–not because I want to, but because I either become so afraid of rejection I reject the other person first–or more frequently, unconsciously do something to make the other person leave me. BPD is very maladaptive to the sufferer–it tends to bring on the very thing the Borderline fears the most–rejection.

I was diagnosed with BPD in 1996 during a three month long hospitalization for major depression. At the time, I also had PTSD from being a victim of abuse by a malignant narcissist husband, who gaslighted me constantly and even tried (but eventually failed) to turn my own children against me. During that hospital stay, I was given a copy of Marsha Linehan’s excellent manual for BPD, “Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder.Dr. Linehan is a borderline herself (she had originally been diagnosed with schizophrenia but felt her “schizophrenia” was really a manifestation of her BPD). The techniques in the book are a form of DBT (dialectical behavioral training) which teaches the Borderline patient to act mindfully–to think before they act and consider consequences, because Borderlines (unlike people with NPD) act on impulse when they feel threatened.

Linehan’s excellent manual can be ordered here.

Linehan’s book helped immensely and since my long-ago hospital stay, I have learned to control many of my borderline symptoms. In fact I have become so good at it I rarely fly off the handle the way I used to or overreact to the degree I used to do. I still have my copy and have recently begun doing some of the excercises again because I still know there’s a LOT of room for improvement.

Like NPD, BPD doesn’t just go away. All personality disorders are incredibly hard to cure because they have become so much a part of the individual’s personality. There are still many times I unwittingly either push other people away OR get too close (or do both at the same time); I still have problems with understanding where other people’s boundaries begin and end. I also feel like there is a wall there keeping me from really being able to empathize with other people in a normal way. I can empathize in an abstract sort of way (it’s hard to explain what I mean by that but the empathy I do feel is sincere). It’s just so hard for me to connect on a meaningful level because I fear rejection so much. I want to be a friend to others; I want to make others happy; I want to be able to fully share in their emotions, good or bad–but I find it all so hard–not just because of my BPD, but my fear of engaging with others in the first place due to Aspergers and AVPD. This triad has been a huge curse all my life. But at least I know what my problem is. I’m what you would call “complicated.” I have my work cut out for me.


Having all three disorders has made my life incredibly difficult and my relationships–when they exist at all–have been stormy or don’t last. But I don’t feel that I’m beyond hope. In fact, I’ve been feeling much better about myself since I started blogging and accepted God into my life. I do feel that He is changing me in a very meaningful and deep way. Maybe it’s not happening as quickly or dramatically as I had hoped, but it’s happening. I am feeling more ability to empathize with others and feel moments that come very close to pure joy. I have always had a great capacity to feel guilt and shame, so that has never been a problem. For a person with a Cluster B disorder, my conscience is probably TOO well-developed. I apologize for things I haven’t even done. Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my entire life apologizing for my existence. I hate the idea of being a bad or evil person. I like it when I know I’ve made someone else happy. Those times when I can make others happy are becoming more frequent, and I think that’s a step toward healing. I’m also happy to report that my lifelong problem with envy appears to be disappearing. Envy is so toxic–mostly to the person harboring it. It’s a great relief to have that particular monkey off my back most of the time now.

So today’s celebration of Pentecost had special meaning, because even though I wasn’t knocked to my knees by the Holy Spirit, I felt a deep sense of peace, centeredness and just “being in the moment” that has always eluded me. I felt a genuine desire to become a person who can make a positive difference in the lives of others and can feel unconditional love even for those I do not know well. Now I just need to overcome my fear of engagement with others, but I have faith that in time that will happen too, and when that happens, a whole new world will open up to me as the walls I built at an early age begin to crumble and reveal the me I want to be–which is really the me God meant for me to be.

Never give up hope. Ever.


As an INFJ with both Aspergers and Avoidant Personality Disorder I can sure relate to this!


Narcissists with Aspergers?


There’s been much written about the relationship between Aspergers syndrome and narcissism, mostly about the way they are often confused with each other (or misdiagnosed as the other disorder) due to the belief that people with Aspergers lack empathy (which is not true). I wrote about this false belief in my article, “People with Autism Do Not Lack Empathy!”

People with Aspergers may SEEM unempathic, because they are not always very good at expressing emotions or knowing how to react when other people share their emotions with them. But an Aspie’s lack of appropriate social reaction to the emotions of others doesn’t mean they can’t FEEL the emotions around them. In fact, some may feel other’s emotions MORE keenly than neurotypicals, and they can be easily overwhelmed, which may cause them to withdraw from the situation and partly account for why they may seem less engaged emotionally or uncaring about the feelings of others.


Narcissism as an Autism Spectrum Disorder?


Psychology Today had an interesting article comparing narcissism to high functioning autism (Aspergers) and at least one psychologist thinks they may be the same disorder!:

Khalid A. Mansour (the British Arab psychiatrist), has proposed in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry (link is external) that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.

Dr. Mansour writes, “There is now significant level of agreement that emotional processing problems like: lack of empathy, poor self-awareness, self-centredness, poor reciprocation of emotion, poor ability to maintain emotional relationships, anxiety and anger outbursts are more or less central features of autism (10, 50,51).”

Interesting. When I first read the above paragraph, I though Dr. Mansour was writing about severe narcissism. His description fits both narcissism and autistic spectrum disorders. Hmmm.

Dr. Mansour similarly quotes from the ICM-10 listing these features of autism:

–Self-centeredness; inappropriate to developmental level and cultural expectations
–Poor self-awareness, poor ability to develop remorse or learn from mistakes
–Poor empathy or appreciation of others feelings
–Poor ability to reciprocate emotions.
–Hostile dependency on safe relations.
–Failure to develop emotional relationships appropriate to developmental level and social norms
–Treating people as objects or preferring objects over them
Again, this list certainly sounds a lot like narcissism.

Dr. Monsour concludes: “… it is noticeable that people with NPD, do not show a major degree of functioning problems in stress free environment or when they are supported (except that they are perceived as “not pleasant characters” to deal with). However under stress and without support they can become quite dysfunctional in a way not far from what we usually see in Asperger’s syndrome. “

I don’t buy it. This is the opinion of one psychiatrist. While it’s true that on the surface these two disorders may appear similar, the mechanism behind the behaviors are vastly different–in fact, almost the opposite. For the narcissist, their lack of empathy and failure to engage the emotions of others is due to their inability to feel the emotions of those around them, but they can FAKE empathy fairly well, even if they choose not to. If they are trying to obtain supply, they can be pretty good at it. Their social skills are not the problem–their inability to feel other’s emotions are. They are like actors in a play. In contrast, a person with Aspergers or high functioning autism DOES feel the emotions of others around them strongly, but lacks the social skills necessary to be able to convey this to others effectively. Unlike the narcissist, people with Aspergers are very bad actors.

But the question was, can Aspergers and narcissism occur together?


But we’re talking here about comorbidity. The question I’ve raised is whether Aspergers and Narcissism can be comorbid with each other–that is, can someone have BOTH disorders?

The answer appears to be yes. I found this on Yahoo Answers, from a man who claims to be both a high functioning autistic AND a sociopath:

[…] people with Asperger’s can be sociopaths and or narcissists as well. “CO-MORBID” is the medical term used to describe a disability or group of disabilities that exist another disability in a single individual at the same time. It is possible to be autistic and have cerebral palsy or have aspergers and diabetes. Likewise it is also possible to have both Aspergers and mental disorders including sociopath and narcissism. Asperger’s does not exist in a bubble that protects it from co-morbid disabilities and mental defects.

I have High Functioning Autism and I also have antisocial tendencies I must always keep properly managed. I see my psychiatrist regularly. I take my medications as needed and I have trained myself to always be mindful of my darker instincts to insure they do not express themselves in disastrous ways. I have high functioniong autism but; thanks to early intervention by family, doctors and others I was made keenly aware of my antisocial ways and taught how to manage them in ways that kept everyone safe. It is the single most difficult thing I do in life to keep my antisocial ways well managed but; having seen the monster I become when enraged is motivation enough to keep me always vigilant.

There’s no reason why the disorders couldn’t exist together. Personally, I’ve never known anyone with both disorders, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Using a fictional example, I’m going to speculate here what the behavior of a narcissist with Aspergers might be like.

The Case of Mark F.

Depressed Forty Year Old Man Drinking Alone

Mark F. always had trouble making friends. In grammar school he was bullied due to his inability to fit in with others or show empathy. He was socially awkward and never seemed to know the right thing to do or say. Mark not only was unable to show appropriate reactions in social situations, but rather than suffer in silence and wonder why others didn’t understand or like him (as most Aspies do), he didn’t care about the feelings of those around him. He was easily hurt by the bullying, but reacted in rage due to these narcissistic injuries to himself. He’d lash out at those who injured him and didn’t care if he hurt someone else.

As Mark grew older, he had difficulty keeping a job, not only because of his inappropriate, almost schizoid affect that was very offputting to those around him, but also because he deliberately caused pain to others with his frequent insensitive insults. Due to his Aspergers, Mark lacked the social skills to be able to effectively use the more subtle narcissistic “tools” such as gaslighting or triangulation against others, but he was very good at blame-shifting and projecting his character defects onto those around him. Lacking the social skills to know what behaviors were appropriate, he’d “go off” on those in authority, and was frequently fired from his jobs for insubordination, gossiping openly about his coworkers, missing work due to debilitating hangovers (more about this in the next paragraph), and starting fights.

Mark never married. Though good looking, due to his poor social skills and openly hostile attitude (he was unable to mask his anger, resentment and envy of others), his dates never developed into relationships. No woman would stay with him longer than a few weeks. He had no friends and resorted to frequent drinking to cope with his loneliness.

As you might imagine, Mark was miserable. He constantly felt victimized. He was frequently depressed and wondered why he couldn’t get others to cooperate with his need to use them for supply. In his frustration and envy of all those around him for their “better social skills,” Mark tried to self-medicate by drinking heavily and his frequent drunkenness only served to exacerbate his rages and cause his work attendance to be poor.

Having both disorders would be a recipe for extreme misery. Mark’s behavior is just one way narcissism comorbid with Aspergers could manifest itself. An effective narcissist must possess good social skills to be able to charm others into trusting them and to use their “bag of tricks” in an effective way, and therefore an Aspie with narcissism wouldn’t be particularly dangerous, just very unlikeable. Therefore, I don’t think it would be probable that an Aspie could be a “malignant narcissist” but they certainly could be suffering from NPD. A person with both disorders would have zero charm and therefore not have many opportunities to use others the way a narcissist with good social skills could. My feeling is substance abuse would be a huge problem for such a person, in their attempt to make life more bearable. For those not resorting to substance abuse or alcoholism, severe depression or even suicidal ideation could result.

The “fleas” of narcissism and being Aspie.

fleas (1)

Fivehundredpoundpeep just posted this article yesterday, expanding on yesterday’s post about fleas acquired from narcissists who abused us, but this one from the perspective of an Aspergers sufferer who was horrifically abused and devalued by her sociopathic mother, MN sister, and other decidedly unpleasant relatives.

The Fleas of Narcissism
By Fivehundredpoundpeep

I have read about fleas of narcissism before. Lucky Otter talked about fleas recently too. These are the things you can end up with from being raised in a narcissistic household. These would include learned behaviors and reactions they taught you during your childhood.

One thing I want to add here, is that if you are worried about being a narcissist, while some children of narcissists become a narcissist like them, you often are NOT! Narcissists do not worry about it, the very idea that they may be disordered is way beyond them. They would never in a million years admit anything is wrong with them. My mother in one pissed off email fest actually wrote, “**** thinks I am disordered!” by then I had laid it out and wrote to her that she was a narcissist and had no empathy, though I came to the sociopath conclusions later on.

One fleeting thought someone raised in sick sociopathic households can have, is “Am I anything like them?”. One can have this feeling of, “Has the evil infected me?” Being raised with no love, I wonder how I was able to love people and I do. I knew by a very early age I did not want to be like my parents. For Aspies, justice is very important, it is hard to explain, some see Aspies as being little minion “rule-followers” but it’s different then that, we want to follow what is “right” over wrong. My conscience was very different then their’s. One thing that would happen to me is my parents would slap me for being “too sensitive”. I was told constantly to “harden up”! Today as a 40 something, I know telling a ten year old crying Aspie, “You can’t cope!”, is pretty sick.

I struggle with my own worries about evil then. All Christians do and have to battle against the sins they may commit. God is merciful and there to forgive once one repents but I have worried about falling away under my crushing poverty and losing trust in God. Even crazy bad health problems one’s thoughts can go into despair, instead of prayer. The concept of conscience was not taught in my family or acting according to one’s conscience. I was different. I felt guilt.

However I struggled with a few fleas from being raised in my family. My family all had violent tempers, with screaming, yelling and throwing things and using foul language. They do not censor their tempers. Even Mini-Me has a bad temper and I saw her screaming at her kids a few times.

I can struggle with a bad temper though I have learned to temper it somewhat and try to keep the yelling to myself as much as possible within the confines of my apartment. I would never touch anyone, but when angry I can yell loud.

Long ago I learned to walk away from people while yelling, to keep the damage more minimal. The other day, I started yelling about a door being locked in my face, and hopefully no one heard me. I said one irritated low volume thing with no cussing they did hear, and then thought inside, “I better cool it”. Aspie melt-downs can complicate this, sometimes an Aspie is not mad but just anxious. I know I am not perfect and well, everything is a work in progress.

My family does not feel guilt over their tempers, they think it is okay to rant and rave and cuss the room blue. I was always embarrassed to eat out with my father because he would tell the wait-staff off over every little thing and even would yell. I had visions of goobers hitting our food back in the kitchen. You know something is wrong when the neighbors are calling the police constantly over your family’s screaming and yelling and they show up and because of your father’s position do absolutely nothing while a poorer guy would be getting dragged off to jail.

This is an area where I definitely had to learn NOT to be like my family and to keep it in check.

Other ACONs may struggle with taking criticism–I am okay with criticism that is meant for improvement but not for the mean kind.

One rarer flea I can get is if I am around people I can tell do not like me or don’t understand Aspies or have personality traits like my parents is I can get very sarcastic and will go into “fight or flight” mode inside. I will go into Aspie blunt mode and not “cloak” for the neurotypicals and throw caution to the wind. However this can be dangerous around narcs and other personality disordered types who can manipulate things to turn my emotions against me. Aspies have to remember blunt honesty isn’t always the best social mode. Around narcs of course, silence and disappearing is safer.

I found myself in a “fight or flight” mode in my stomach and having some of my fleas come out too often when I was around certain personalities. Sometimes it is not even something that a particular person is doing or any personality disorder but a clashing of values and world view.

This is one thing ACONs should always pay attention to when it comes to dealing with the world. Pay attention to how you FEEL around certain parties. These are feelings I am learning to pay attention to. Not everyone is a narc but we have to learn to control our fleas around personalities who may trigger us or we may differ with. I know there are neurotypicals out there who have no capability to understand me. Of course we have to be mindful of the personality disordered who may be out to hurt us too. During the early stages of no contact we can be more sensitive too as we wake up to new ways of doing and acting coming out of fog.

Others may have a hardened view towards the world. I know I did for a short time. My parents would scream at me for being “too sensitive” and I had that weird abuse where they denied me the protection and treatment owed a young girl where I was treated more like a boy. I was told to harden up and not to have feelings. My feelings angered them. They failed in this change of me, but there was some fleas left over.

An ACON going through this one can get feelings like “Everyone is out to get me.”, “I’m not going to be a sucker”. I had this in my 20s to an extent expecting that everyone was going to screw me over. One roommate even asked me, “Why do you have to act like such a tough girl?” Get hit enough times and you are always ducking and this is not a good way to deal with the world. When I lived in the ghetto, I did grow somewhat harder and when I escaped to a small rural town, had to adjust my entire stance towards the world. I didn’t need to walk around in defense mode all the time even if I had to learn balancing this one, self protection balanced with openness. I actually had to learn and experience that there were good, kind and loving people in the world which defines many of my friends.

One thing I had to do after becoming a Christian in my thirties, was I did use the Christian people I met as role models. I would pick older women, and some I still have on my social website, and would observe how they treated people. These were women with loving families and who gave to the community and treated people fairly and kindly. While I did Aspies are more apt to do this, in choosing mentors. My best jobs when I was young, I always had a mentor. I don’t think this is a bad thing to do. I was doing it at an older age then most, but choosing positive role models when you have had negative ones for far too long is a good thing and I think a sign of healing.

So fleas can be overcome, you just have to be aware of them.

How does Aspergers Syndrome differ from Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD)?


I never heard of Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD) until last night, when I was reading Nyssa’s Bio (on her blog Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole), where she said she suffered from NVLD, which is very similar to Aspergers Disorder but not quite the same thing. Some mental health professionals believe NVLD is actually part of the autism spectrum, higher functioning even than Aspergers. Aspergers itself could be thought of as a social learning disability.


I decided to find out more about what this disorder and what the differences are, and I came across this well written article, and decided it belonged here too.

Aspergers Disorder and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities:
How Are These Two Disorders Related to Each Other?

By Dr. David Dinklage

There is clearly a great deal of overlap between Aspergers Disorder (AD) and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD), so much so that it is possible that the symptoms of each describe the same group of children from different perspectives—AD from either a psychiatric/behavioral perspective, and NVLDneuropsychological perspective. The specific conventions of these diagnoses may lead to a somewhat different group of children meeting diagnostic criteria, but it is not clear that this reflects something “true” in nature. That is, it may only be convention that separates these two groups.

One is reminded of the story of the six blind men who were asked to describe an elephant. Each man grabbed a different part of the creature (the snake-like trunk vs. the tree-like leg) and gave an accurate description from his own particular perspective—but each man thought the others were completely mistaken!

Studies conducted by the Yale Child-Study Group suggest that up to 80% of children who meet the criteria for AD also have NVLD. While there are no studies on overlap in the other direction, most likely children with the more severe forms of NVLD also have AD. Children from both groups are socially awkward and pay over-attention to detail and parts, while missing main themes or underlying principles. However, by convention, the two groups differ in the range of severity. Professionals reserve an AD diagnosis for children with more severe social impairment and behavioral rigidity; some symptoms may overlap with high functioning autism. There are degrees of severity within AD but not to the extent that is acceptable in diagnosing NVLD. These degrees can range from extreme autistic behavior to cases where the social difficulties are very subtle and the academic/cognitive difficulties are more prominent.

Here is a brief outline of the diagnostic criteria for AD and the pattern of neuropsychological finings in NVLD. While the overlap is apparent, the emphasis is different because criteria for NVLD focuses on academic issues as well as specific test findings and is not purely descriptive. This also results in different means of making the diagnosis (testing or observing).

Aspergers Disorder (AD) is characterized by:

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction

–Failure to use non-verbal social skills (i.e. eye contact, gestures, body posture, facial expressions)
–Developmentally inappropriate peer relationships
–Lack of spontaneous sharing of enjoyment and interests with other people
–Lack of social and emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.

-Preoccupation that is overly intense and narrow
–Inflexible adherence to non-functional or peripheral routines
–Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements
–Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. These problems taken together (A plus B) result in significant challenges in the lives of people with AD as they attempt to live in a neurotypical world and meet the expectations of others.

D. There is no general language delay.

E. There is no severe global cognitive impairment.

Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD)

A. NVLD can be conceptualized as an imbalance in thinking skills—intact linear, detail oriented, automatic processing with impaired appreciation of the big picture, gestalt or underlying theme.

B. It is not nearly as common as language-based learning disabilities, but this may be a phenomenon created by environmental demands (i.e. our societal demands for precision skills in reading assure that even the most subtle language-based LD cases are identified)

C. Typically social/psychiatric concerns are raised before academic problems are identified.

D. While the overlap is not complete, NVLD children may meet the criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS), Aspergers Disorder, or Schizotypal Personality.

Neuropsychological Profile (NVLD):

–Full range of IQ
–Visual spatial deficits are most pronounced: poor appreciation of gestalt, poor appreciation of body in space, sometimes left side inattention/neglect, may have highly developed but ritualized drawing skills that are extremely detail oriented.
–Rote linguistic skills are normal (i.e. repetition, naming, fluency, syntactic comprehension), but pragmatic use of language is impaired: weak grasp of inference, little content, disorganized narrative despite good vocabulary and grammar. Rote recall of a story may be good, but the main point missed. Rhythm, volume, and prosody of speech are often disturbed.
–Motor and sensory findings are common: usually poor fine and gross motor coordination, left side worse than right.
–Attention is usually reported to be impaired and testing supports this, but the affect is desultory as opposed to distractingly impulsive, as in ADHD. It is as if people with NVLD do not know what to attend to, but once focused, can sustain attention to detail. The distinction between figure and ground is disturbed, resulting in attention errors.


–Difficulties are often picked up late because decoding and spelling may be quite strong.
–Inferential reading comprehension is weak relative to decoding and spelling skills.
–Math is often the first academic subject to be viewed as problematic. Spatial and conceptual aspects of mathematics are a problem; math facts may be readily mastered. I.e., a student may know the answer to a simple multiplication problem, but not understand what multiplication is.
–Due to spatial and fine motor problems, handwriting is usually poor.
–Organization skills are weak, particularly in written work.

Social/emotional issues:

–Peer relations are typically the greatest area of impairment; may play with much older or younger children than with same age peers where they must manage give and take.
–They often lack basic social skills; may stand too close, stare inappropriately or not make eye contact, have marked lack of concern over appearance, be oblivious to other’s reactions, change topics idiosyncratically.
–Children with NVLD are seen as “odd” children who “just don’t get it” socially They may do better with adults, where they act dependent and immature, but may not be seen as “odd.”
–They may show poorly modulated affect, not matched to verbal content.
–Lack of empathy and social judgment may shield them from fully experiencing the hurt of peer rejection, while the same factors increase the likelihood of being rejected.
–History of unusual thinking can often be obtained: rituals, stereotypic behaviors, rigid routines, and magical/bizarre beliefs.


Assessment of NVLD Compared with Assessment of AD

NVLD should be diagnosed in the context of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. It is not simply a matter of Performance IQ being less than Verbal IQ, since there may be many reasons for such a discrepancy besides NVLD. Furthermore, NVLD can be present even if no discrepancies between strong verbal ability and poor performance show up on the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III). One does not need to have every characteristic of NVLD in dramatic form for the diagnosis to be helpful in delineating the pattern of strength and weaknesses.

NVLD can be complicated by an array of psychiatric and social/familial problems, so it is important to assess the whole child-world system, not just the cognitive status.
AD is best diagnosed from a detailed history, school reports, and observing the child. As parents vary in how they report symptoms, one good marker is whether or not the child had engaged in symbolic play as a toddler. Children with AD tend not to play with toys as the “thing” they represent. For example, they may collect fire trucks but not play “fire.” Parents may also report that their children use language instrumentally, rather than using it to trade ideas. The children do not seem to consider that the “other” may have different ideas.

Because AD is diagnosed descriptively, one does not need neuropsychological testing to diagnose it. However, since there is so much overlap between AD and NVLD, neuropsychological testing is strongly recommended. Testing will identify any specific interference with academic functioning, and confirm imbalances in thinking skills that may have been observed.

In my practice I have seen a number of children with AD who would not meet the criteria for NVLD in any existing research studies. If these children had participated in the Yale study mentioned earlier in this article, they would probably have been in the 20% of the AD children who did not meet the NVLD criteria. It is possible that the AD children in that 20% may have had very high visual spatial scores, thus masking their over-attention to detail in problem solving. For example, they may have scored very high on the Block Design subtest of the IQ measure (using colored blocks to match a pattern given to them) with little or no appreciation of the gestalt. Their considerable skill and speed at analyzing detail would have allowed them to use this inefficient strategy effectively. With these very bright children, it may be that the tests are not sufficiently sensitive to discern a pattern of NVLD. On the other hand, some children with AD show diffuse difficulties in the language and attention domain, but may not exhibit the pronounced discrepancies associated with NVLD. Nonetheless, they may still struggle with the cognitive difficulties of NVLD. Conversely, a child meeting the criteria for NVLD, may not meet the criteria for AD, even though subtle characteristics of the disorder may be present.

A case example best illustrates how children who clearly have NVLD may not meet the criteria for AD as it is presently understood. I evaluated an eighth grade girl whose parents were concerned about her math performance. She had above average overall ability, but a 24-point discrepancy between her verbal and visual spatial skills on the IQ measure. On the neuropsychological measures, she clearly had the pattern of visual spatial deficits, left sided motor slowing, and poor math ability, while language skills were intact. She did not have any problems with inferential comprehension in reading. One would not even have considered Aspergers Disorder. She had had many good friends through elementary school and felt herself to be part of her peer group. Symbolic play development had been normal and she exhibited no repetitive behaviors. This is unusual in NVLD as well, but since much of the criteria for this neuropsychological diagnosis is cognitive and test-based, it was determined that she met enough of the criteria for a diagnosis of NVLD. I commented in the report that, unlike this girl, most children with NVLD have more social problems, tend to miss the point in social interactions, and have trouble in content areas in school because of inferential reading comprehension problems.

The parents came back to me when she was a senior. She was now isolated from her peers, who complained that she was too literal. Now she was struggling in literature and social studies; her papers tended to be more like lists and less integrated than those of her peers. I don’t believe she was developing a new disorder. She had a classic NVLD, but it was relatively subtle and it required more high-powered peer and academic demands to highlight her social perception and inferential reasoning weaknesses, much the same way that some mildly dyslexic individuals compensate reasonably well and go unnoticed until they flunk out of their first year of college. Given her history of good social adjustment, one would still never diagnose her with AD. One has to wonder whether her neurcognitive functioning indicated AD, but in a much milder form.

Asperger’s Disorder was not originally thought of as having a continuum of severity that included these subtle forms, whereas NVLD did not start with the assumption of more extreme difficulties. As information about AD becomes more widely circulated more and more subtle cases are being identified and the culture is, in some manner, changing the original “intention” of the category. While that may dilute the meaning of the diagnosis, it will more accurately reflect the variety of developmental presentations in nature. As humans, we naturally want to categorize. The complex relationship between NVLD and AD may be an example of categorizing how too rigidly can confuse, rather than clarify, our thinking.

Dr. David Dinklage is Director of Neuropsychology at Cambridge Hospital, and has a private practice in Belmont.

My character flaws.


Just because I write a blog that sometimes gives advice to others about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and other mental disorders such as Aspergers, doesn’t mean I don’t still have a long way to go in recovery myself.

Blogging and prayer have helped immensely in raising my self esteem and general outlook on life, but it’s important to stay humble too. I’m not anyone’s “guru” even though I may have good ideas from time to time. So lest anyone think I’m tooting my own horn or purporting to be some kind of expert, here’s a list of my character flaws that sometimes get in the way of recovery.

Aspergers/Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) Flaws:


1. Shyness in social situations that comes off to some as aloofness, coldness or sometimes stupidity (when combined with my Aspie tendency to be “out of it” sometimes).

2. Awkwardness in social situations — doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time; occasional social gaffes that make me look obtuse or clueless.

3. Obsessiveness.

4. Narrow focus on one or two interests at a time. I dislike interruptions from the real world that interrupt my focus and force me to engage with the world.

5. Sometimes instead of not talking at all, I talk too much.

6. I avoid people. I prefer being alone (or with my pets) to being with other people.

7. I am a creature of habit and dislike interruptions from my routines.

8. I don’t like “surprises” or things being sprung on me at the last minute, where I don’t have a chance to prepare for them.

9. I get freaked out and overwhelmed by too much input from the world at one time. I can’t stand chaos, loud people, too much going on at once, or too many people around me outside of formal settings like a classroom or meeting. When I feel like too much is coming at me at once, I shut down and tune out–or get annoyed and angry.

10. Tendency to like to put everything in categories, or as some like to say, in “little boxes.” This leads to a tendency to label people and like labels.

11. General weirdness. This is probably a good thing.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)/ PTSD Flaws:


These have been getting a lot better and I have learned some valuable tools in dealing with the symptoms in myself that have become second nature now, but it’s hard to be cured of this disorder and I still have some Borderline traits:

1. Tendency to either idealize or devalue people.

2. Hypersensitivity to criticism, jokes at my expense, or rejection.

3. Snap judgments about people before I truly get to know them.

4. Black and white thinking. Things and people are either all good or all bad.

5. Insecurity and worry about being liked (even though I avoid people). Try to figure that one out.

6. When angry, I can sometimes get so enraged I lose common sense and just want to do something to even the score without thinking about the consequences. Healthy fearfulness goes out the window and I act out in anger. Fortunately this happens a LOT less often than it used to; actually it’s pretty rare these days.

7. Rapid mood swings. This goes hand in hand with being bipolar too (that’s in remission). This too has been getting a lot better.

8. Paranoia and hypervigilance. I have a hard time trusting anyone.

9. Envy.

10. Excessive worry. Someone once told me, it’s useless to worry about things because if the bad thing does happen, then you’ve experienced it twice, and if it doesn’t happen, you’ve wasted energy on worrying. Wise words.

11. Fear of taking risks. This too has been getting a lot better, but in the offline world, I still have a long way to go.

15. Defensiveness.

16. Excessive guilt and shame. Easily embarrassed.

Other flaws.


1. Smoking. (I’ve cut down to less than a pack a day though)

2. A diet that doesn’t include enough fresh fruits and veggies.

3. Laziness.

4. Procrastination.

5. Self-sabotage (this has gotten a lot better).

6. Excessive worry about my adult kids. Overprotectiveness.

7. Beating myself up.

8. Beating myself up for having character flaws.


All in all I’m far from perfect, but I think my flaws probably make me more interesting too.

Robert Durst disgusting excuse

I agree with Gale how outrageous this is. This man is a psychopathic murderer who is using ASPERGERS as an excuse to get away with his heinous acts. Not only is he a raging liar, by using Aspergers as his excuse, he is giving that disorder a bad reputation (it’s already bad enough that Aspies have are erroneously accused of having no empathy just because we don’t always express it as well as a neurotypical). Of course there will be those who will believe him. This murderer is no Aspie–he is a raging, dangerous, evil PSYCHOPATH.



Last night I was appalled to see that this murderer’s lawyer is going to use the same excuse that got this murder off last time. ASPERGERS! This is really outrageous.

Robert Durst is about to get away with more murders. Using the badly understood condition known as Aspergers. This is a terrible precedent to set. How is the fact that he has Aspergers affect the fact that he murdered a man, cut him in pieces and tossed him in the water. Then he went on the lam. Now with this new arrest his lawyer is claiming the producers of the program where he admits while talking to himself and miked that he “killed them all”.  He has withdrawn cash in small bills, put them in several envelopes ready to mail. He had his passport and other documents and was reported to be planning to flee to Cuba.


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