Cluster B disorders are not cool.

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Although Cluster B disorders (the dramatic, emotional, erratic group of personality disorders), are largely demonized on the Internet by narcissistic abuse survivors, there’s another growing attitude online that’s pretty much the opposite–that having a Cluster B disorder somehow makes you an uber-cool badass.

This is a dangerous delusion.  Take it from me, having a Cluster B disorder like BPD (in my case) is NOT fun. Nor is it cool. In fact, it really really sucks. 😦 Both for yourself and everyone else.

This growing attitude of “Cluster B coolness” I’ve been seeing more of goes something like this:

NPD:

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This is what your narcissist is really all about.

The Myth:  If you have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), you’re a self-confident, go-out-and-knock-em-all-dead, ambitious, and highly intelligent badass who Gets. Things. Done. Psychopaths are similarly glorified, but they’re basically the reason why everything’s wrong with the world and empathy is seen as a “weakness.” The narcissistic woman is regarded as a diabolical yet seductive Jezebel who turns strong men into whimpering slaves at the snap of her pretty fingers and who every other woman strives to be. The narcissistic man is regarded as a buff, handsome, masculine, virile, successful go-getter who all women melt for (and that’s how they regard themselves, of course).

The Reality:  In actuality, if you have NPD, you’re a negative, selfish, deluded, demanding, envious, entitled, whining crybaby with no real sense of self who everyone hates (and who hates everyone) but are afraid to say so because it might set off one of your infamous rages or you giving them the even more crazymaking “silent treatment.” People are always walking on eggshells around you because you’re really so unstable, hypersensitive to criticism,  and deluded by and drunk  with your own “greatness.”  You’re a sore loser too and can’t stand to see anyone else do well or get any attention.   No one really likes you and you’re probably right that people are talking about you behind your back, but frankly you deserve it. Also, many narcissists are just plain stupid and have no emotional intelligence.  As for their reputed skillfulness in bed,  many narcs (especially the cerebral types) hate sex and can’t or won’t perform.  Or, as with everything else, they only care about their own needs and to hell with yours.

BPD:

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Joan Crawford had a BPD diagnosis. Is this sexy, alluring, and “quirky” to you?

The Myth: If you have Borderline Personality Disorder, some people think this means you’re a sexy beast or babe who’s alluring, unpredictable, passionate, always charming and “quirky”, and never boring. Your chameleon-like abilities to match the attitudes of those around you is seen as evidence of potential Oscar-winning ability. It’s always pointed out how many actors and musicians suffer from BPD.

The Reality:  Let’s be honest.   If you have BPD you’re emotionally unstable, volatile, almost crazy (the original term “borderline” referred to the disorder being on the border between neurosis and psychosis), out of touch with reality, unable to take a firm stance on anything (or conversely, switching back and forth between two extremes, which just makes you look insane) due to your terror of being rejected or abandoned, prone to be an addict, (drugs, booze, gambling, shopping, cutting, eating and/or dieting, other people), clingy,  codependent, insecure, high-maintenance,  and fickle. The borderline doesn’t really have a false self per se like the narcissist, but they can’t access their true self either, so they wind up “taking on” the attitudes and emotions of those who happen to be around them like some kind of emotional bodysnatcher (in contrast with true empathy, their feelings overwhelm them and are out of control), and they just plain overreact to every damn thing so you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells.

HPD:

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You think you look seductive. Everyone else thinks you look like a clown.

The Myth: Although Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) isn’t widely talked about, its reputation is similar to that of BPD (but is really the stereotypically feminine form of Overt NPD): usually female, a sexy, seductive siren, dramatic, highly social, loves parties and being the center of attention, and is never, ever boring. You’ll fall madly in love with this bewitching seductress due to their many charms and their great looks.

The Reality: The real truth about people with HPD is that they’re insincere, emotionally labile to the point of being embarrassing (but their over-the-top “emotional displays” are largely an act), shallow, materialistic, and emotionally retarded. They often overdress (or underdress!) or are overly made up for an occasion, are sexually promiscuous, and are inappropriate in social situations, but they don’t care if you’re cringing in embarrassment for them because even negative attention is still attention and that’s what they crave more than the air itself.

ASPD:

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Nuff said.

The Myth:  So here we are at the juggernaut of the Cluster Bs, the baddest badass of them all, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Often confused with Psychopathy (and often overlapping with it), the antisocial or psychopathic badass is a sexy and fearless rogue, unconcerned with how others feel about them, possessed of an arresting and penetrating gaze (actually a predatory, creepy stare) that makes you feel like they are really listening to you, determined to get what they want (whether it’s their latest kill or their latest corporate takeover) and never giving up or allowing themselves to be intimidated, by anything. They’re the Rebels Without a Cause, the self-confident Ferris Buellers, the Coolest of the Cool, the celebrated anti-heroes of novels and films socially sanctioned to serve as a receptacle for the Shadow Self that resides within us all. The ASPD badass gives us permission to mentally “act out” our darker impulses, without actually hurting anyone, and that’s why we all love serial killers so much, and why the Ted Bundys and Charlie Mansons of the world get more marriage proposals than any football or film star.

The Reality:  The antisocial badass is really just a heartless and criminally minded horse’s ass, who has no capacity for empathy, isn’t even socially constrained by their need to impress others to garner narcissistic supply (because they don’t require any), and is frequently in prison or has a rap sheet the size of War and Peace. This is a guy (or gal) who will make your life a living hell, beat you to a pulp any chance they get and leave you in a heartbeat and not even remember your name.

If they’re high functioning, they’re the people who are responsible for everything that’s wrong in the world today and the reason why you work 3 jobs and can’t afford a vacation or health insurance.

If they’re low-functioning, if they’re not straight up criminals, they’re flabby, pasty Basement Dwellers who dishonestly leech off the system or their family members so they never have to work and spend all their time trolling Internet forums to get a rise out of random strangers.   Just like my ex.

 

basement_dweller

Ah, what a studly, irresistably dangerous heartbreaker you are.

If you’re a psychopath or sociopath, you operate more like a machine than a human. Is that something we should be aspiring to?

So there you have it. Cluster B disorders are not cool. They are serious mental (and some believe, spiritual) illnesses, and they are pathetic.   And let’s not forget that people suffering from Cluster B disorders are not happy people.  In fact, most of them are pretty miserable.  They are to be pitied (and avoided) rather than emulated.

A rebuttal in defense of Cluster B. 

Forever alone, revisited.

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This is going to be another “running naked” post.

I have mixed feelings about being in a relationship. On the one hand, I long for it because I can’t deny that my inability to connect with anyone on a deep emotional level has caused me a lot of sadness and pain.

At the same time I need my solitude, and it’s almost always my preferred state, due to my avoidant personality. I’d much rather do things alone than do them with others. I’m simply too selfish and don’t want to give of myself to anyone else. I think the selfishness stems from fear though. I’m too afraid: I struggle with fears of rejection, abandonment, judgement, engulfment, being hurt, being used, being abused, etc. I have little to no interest in sex, although I can be sexually attracted. (maybe this is TMI, but I prefer my fantasies to the real thing).

So I have a sort of conundrum. I don’t want to grow old and die alone, but at the same time I don’t want to and am afraid to do what it takes to avoid being alone forever. I was married to my malignant narcissist ex for many years, but the marriage was extremely dysfunctional and I was always in the codependent role. Thinking about the marriage’s failure (which was inevitable from Day One) now makes me feel sad, although for a long time I just felt rage (which is why I started my first blog).

I would only consider a relationship with a non-narcissist now (and really, not with any Cluster B), but that’s a problem because I’m simply not attracted to non-disordered people. I never have been.

The other problem is I’m “in love with the idea of being in love.” Like most Cluster B’s, I become limerent easily (though less so than I used to) and get addicted to the whole “high” that infatuated feeling brings. But it never lasts and I know intellectually it’s not real love. It’s a type of addiction that feels as good as a drug, but the crash (and there always is one) is just as bad as coming down from a powerful drug too. I miss that drug-like high of falling in love though.

To rectify this longing, I live the limerent experience out in my mind by developing powerful crushes on people who cannot give me anything in return for a variety of reasons. Oddly enough, this lack of reciprocation is okay with me. I don’t feel like anything is “unrequited” because I deliberately and consciously get attached to a person only in my own mind and prefer not to share my feelings with the person in question. I have an active enough imagination that there is no need to play it out in reality. In fact, I’d probably run away in terror if it became obvious my feelings were returned. I’d get off on the supply that comes with that, of course–but it would send me into panic mode too. It’s very weird. I don’t know if this is just an eccentricity of mine, or if this sort of thing is experienced by others. Having an active imagination does have its benefits. It’s very narcissistic though.

I think unless I can become non-disordered (which is unlikely), that I need to accept the idea of being alone for the rest of my life. On a day to day basis, I’m okay with that, but it’s sometimes so hard when you look around and everyone else in my age group is married or in a relationship, and I have to do everything on my own. You’re treated by society as defective and if you don’t make a good living, it’s hard to even survive. I feel like a freak sometimes. I can’t look at singleness as a permanent lifestyle or I get very sad and afraid. I have to do what they do in AA, and take things one day at a time.

The Cluster B stigma and the nature of evil.

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I don’t care if what I’m about to say is controversial or unpopular.

There are some folks in the ACON community who think ALL narcissists are evil, and some think all BPDs are evil too. (In fact there are some BPDs who are worse than some narcs).
It’s understandable why people feel that way (and I did for a time myself), but the people who abused them were usually high spectrum malignant narcissists or sociopaths so they think all narcissists (and even all Cluster Bs) are as bad as the abusive or rejecting parents who raised them.

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The stigma against Cluster B disorders is very pervasive and it’s getting worse. NPD used to just be a psychiatric diagnosis. Now it’s a condemnation to hell. Even if a low-mid spectrum narc or a borderline is self aware and wants to get better, they’re still put in the “evil” box along with the malignants, psychopaths and sociopaths. It’s always assumed they “have an agenda” or are “full of shit” and everything they say is a lie. I wondered why hearing people say this used to bother me; now I know why. It hurt my feelings because inside, I already knew I was one. I’m self-identified now and really, really want to change and every word I say on my blogs is my reality and truth. It’s my true self speaking, always. I think.

Cluster B’s are cut no slack by some ACONs. We are told we deserve no sympathy even though we were abused too and were victims too. This is extremely damaging to those of us who want to be rid of our Cluster B disorders.

The Cluster B stigma also makes it hard for those of us who want treatment to find it. Many therapists won’t get near someone with NPD or BPD with a 100 foot pole. I remember one therapist I had an intake session with, who I felt comfortable with, but said he’d need to order my psychiatric records before we could go any further.
A few days later he called me and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t treat Borderlines.”
Even if a therapists is willing to see someone with a Cluster B disorder, most insurance companies or government-funded health insurance like Medicaid or Medicare won’t pay a claim for a “Cluster B diagnosis” because it’s assumed they’re incurable. So we are given some other diagnosis instead and treated for THAT disorder (such as depression or anxiety) which doesn’t get to the root of our real problem but only treats symptoms.

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People who judge and demonize all narcissists are doing exactly what NPDs and BPDs are so well known for-–engaging in black and white thinking. They don’t believe or realize that narcissism is a spectrum disorder and those in the bottom half of the spectrum probably aren’t evil, even if they’re usually PITAs.

I know there will be some of you who will disagree. That’s fine and we can agree to disagree. I’ll hold to my belief that narcissism is a spectrum disorder with many shades of gray ranging all the way to black (evil).

So what is evil? Evil to me means a person who wants to bring harm to others and has no remorse over what they do and doesn’t care about the suffering they cause–and even enjoys it. It’s a person who goes out of their way to hurt others. It’s a person who tries to destroy the reality or the soul of another human being. It’s a person who never feels guilt or shame over their actions and has no empathy for the pain they cause. All evil people (as far as I know) are of the Cluster B persuasion and most are narcissists (or ASPDs), but not every narcissist or borderline is evil.

To really get a handle on what evil is, Dr. M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” is the best analysis out there. Most of the stories in his book describe people who would today be called malignant narcissists (high spectrum narcissists with antisocial traits).