Guest Post: How Addiction Leads to Personality Disorders

How Addiction Leads to Personality Disorders
By Sharon Torres

Personality disorders such as narcissism and sociopathy are often blamed upon the nature vs. nurture model. When people’s brains are wired to have these kinds of problems and it is coupled with childhood trauma, these are possible causes of having a psychological disorder.

However, there is another side of the story where personality disorders don’t just come from childhood trauma nor a natural brain wiring–it comes with the development of an addiction. I hope that my experience with being in a relationship with someone who is suffering from both addiction and a personality disorder will provide you with insight into how one caused the other and vice versa.

My story of narcissistic abuse

I was a naive girl in college back in my home country. I always dreamed of having a perfect relationship so I kept myself free from exclusively dating unless I was certain. My cousin then invited me to a social ball at this college, and this is where I met my dashing, charming, ex-boyfriend.

My ex was a senior of my cousin, so he was required to introduce me as his partner in the social ball. This young and handsome bachelor was known among his batch mates and he was known as the heartthrob of his class. This is where it began–after the party, he added me on Facebook which was to my surprise! I wasn’t even able to take a hint that he noticed me.

After hours and days of talking, the friendship quickly grew to something romantic. Looking back, I believe it was the love bombing phase in our relationship. Since he knew that I took the bait, he was eager to win me.

This romantic phase turned sour when we eventually became a couple after 3 months. I started to feel neglected, and I discovered something he had hidden from me throughout that getting-to-know-you phase–he had a drinking problem! Still, my rose-colored glasses stayed on. I was determined to “change” him and make our relationship better.

Little did I know that those hopes were just that–mere hopes. He was deep in denial of his drinking problem, and when he had fits of rage he would say things that he didn’t mean. He would threaten to break up with me, curse me, suddenly stop responding to my calls, blaming me as being too “controlling.” He would even talk to other girls just to show that I was easily dispensable. Being naive as I was, I thought that these were normal relationship conflicts. I took the verbal and emotional abuse as though it was something that I should work on. When he was sober, he would lure me in again through his sweet words and coaxing. The pattern repeated itself again and again, which ultimately tore my self-esteem.

My relationship with my ex was full of heartache and pain, until one day, I chose to free myself from this vicious cycle. It took me one whole year to finally get away from this narcissistic abuse after months of hoovering and questioning my decision. Needless to say, I do not regret my decision. I am happily married now to another man, and the difference was clear as day. Looking back, I realized how one’s personality can change due to having an addiction problem.

Why is addiction linked to personality disorders?

Addiction of any kind, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or other substances, can affect a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state. The addictive component found in these substances changes the brain’s wiring through continued use. In the case of alcoholism, the brain is led to the release of endorphins, which are the natural feel-good hormones of the brain.

The problem with continued, increasing use of these substances is that it quickly escalates from tolerance into dependence. When the brain and body are dependent on drugs and alcohol, functioning without it becomes a disaster–this causes the multitudes of withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, distress, and the dreaded changes in personality.

According to several Colorado addiction resources, a person who is addicted to substances may show one or more of the following traits:

Impatience. When a person suffers from substance use, it is their source of comfort and gratification. Without it, they may often find themselves having an attitude of impatience. They are impatient towards their partners, become unreasonably demanding towards others, or may show fits of rage because of their inability to wait.

Easily aggravated. Anger is another issue that may often appear due to substance use. When the body is largely dependent on drugs or alcohol, it may easily suffer from physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, or fevers. Additionally, it can also affect the person’s mood because of the many discomforts without the substance.

Impulsive. When combined with being easily aggravated, people who suffer from substance abuse and personality disorders tend to say or do things that they may regret later. They are prone to getting in physical fights, reckless driving, having multiple partners, or doing other dangerous acts that could affect them or their loved ones.

Manipulative
Manipulation is one of the hallmarks of personality disorders such as sociopathy and psychopathy. People who are highly manipulative will do anything to get what they want–without a sense of morality of their means to get there. In the same way, people with addictions can use other people and situations to their advantage, and this is because they need the immediate pleasure of consuming the substances they need.

Abusive. Abuse is not just through physical means. They can also involve verbal and emotional abuse, which are hard to determine especially if you are blindsided in your relationships. Most people who suffer from personality disorders along with substance abuse will use rudeness, cursing, and other forms of hurtful words at their peak of anger. A steady, loving relationship ensues respect from one another–and although conflicts are bound to happen, it does not involve hurting each other physically or through words. If you are a victim of abuse, seek help right away.

It is important to understand that people suffer from personality disorders due to their genetic or familial predisposition to them, from an abusive or neglectful early childhood, or from other early trauma. They learn that using substances make them feel “in control” of their disorder. In the same way, people also develop personality disorders due to continued substance use. It is a two-way cycle that exacerbates and increases the risk for both.

If you feel like a loved one is suffering from a personality disorder coupled with substance abuse, there are addiction resources to help them out. They offer medical treatment, counseling, and lifestyle rehabilitation to help them take a shot at recovery and to manage their personality disorders.

*****
Sharon Torres is a freelance writer who is chronicling her experiences through this thing called life. She believes that if you always move forward in life then there is no need to look back. Her favorite writer is Phillip K. Dick.

Visit Sharon’s blog at: http://sharontorreswriter.blogspot.com/

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Family problems.

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I thought I’d return from Florida well rested and ready to tackle real life again.   I did have a wonderful, relaxing time and got to spend a good bit of it with my son, unlike other trips there, when he had to work most of the time.

Since returning, my daughter and her husband seem to be coming after me for blood.   I’m too emotionally distraught right now to even go into much detail about what happened, but in a nutshell, she is gaslighting me and lying about things I did/said, making me out to be a terrible, selfish person who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but myself and prefers my son over her.

This started well before I left for my trip.   I pushed it on the back burner, but her behavior lately has been bothering me.  It reminds me very much of her father’s abusive behavior before I finally had enough and made him leave the house five years ago.     She has been calling me terrible names, saying I said things or did things I never said  or did, and calling me narcissistic and “clinically insane.”    She thinks I’m crazy because I sometimes am critical of her or tell her I don’t like the names she is calling me.   In other words, reacting like a normal person does when attacked.   She’s gaslighting me.   I told her to stop, for whatever good that does.  She insists it’s not gaslighting.  Instead she flips it around and accuses me of gaslighting her.

It seems she is projecting onto me, and became a narcissist or some facsimile of one when I was not looking.  Her husband, who seemed sweet to me at first, has become quite cold toward me.   I think she has turned him against me.

We share a crowded house, and I don’t earn enough to pay all the bills on my own (and am too old to take a second job, nor should I have to take a second job!) but she angrily attacked me this morning for “being a bitch” to her,  and said she would no longer pay any rent to me because of that.

She says she needs to save money to move out.   That would be perfectly reasonable under other circumstances.   It would be fine if I earned enough that I could afford  to give them a break so they could save money, but I don’t and she knows it.  I could be renting out her room instead and she knows that too.   I also doubt she will actually save money and move, since she has never been able to save money before and can’t seem to hold onto a job.

Her brother wants to mediate (he’s good at mediating) but there’s no way for that to happen since then she would know I told him everything, and she is predisposed to not cooperate since she’s jealous of the more positive attention she thinks he gets from me.  They have become distant from each other partly because of geographic distance, but also because she thinks he judges her harshly (he doesn’t, but is reasonably critical and she can’t seem to deal with criticism).

I’m not sure what to do.  My daughter went out in a huff after flinging a litany of insults at me, and is currently (most likely) over at her father’s house (where I’m pretty sure they are all sitting around badmouthing me and talking about what a crazy, narcissistic person I am).   And yes, I do realize how narcissistic and paranoid I sound, but I’m absolutely sure that’s what is going on.   I feel like I’m reliving the nightmare I went through before I finally worked up the courage to go no contact with her father.    He freeloaded off of me too and told everyone I was the crazy one when I objected to his crazymaking antics and exploitation of my good will.

Now she is accusing me of “playing the victim.”   It appears that gaslighting comes naturally to her.  She must have been paying attention when I talked to her all those times about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, because now she not only knows all the terms and phrases, she has weaponized them, using them against me.

When did my daughter become her father?   I never thought she would become a gaslighting abuser or a narcissist because she always seemed like a high empathy person to me.  It’s like I turned around and instead of seeing her standing there, it’s her father all over again.

Until recently, and since her father left the house (at my insistence) in 2014, my daughter and I  have gotten along great.  I’m not sure when things started to go downhill or even who changed.  Was it her or was it me?  I feel like it was her.   But I just don’t really know.   It seems like it started to happen around the time of her marriage in January.  But her husband doesn’t seem like a narcissist to me, just a quiet guy.  But since he doesn’t talk a lot, I have no idea what he is actually saying to her.    All I know is that during the past few months, our relationship has been very tense and prone to lead to arguments.  I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her, and I know that’s a huge red flag.

Maybe she needed to go out and just calm herself down and give herself some space.   So I will see when she returns if she’s more reasonable.  But if she still refuses to cooperate with my house rules, I may have no choice but to make plans to move out myself and leave the two of them to figure out how to pay for everything themselves.   That’s not being spiteful, but I simply can’t live with someone (even my own daughter) who takes advantage of me the way her father did years ago.   It’s a form of abuse and extremely triggering.    I know she will be furious if that’s what I ultimately decide, but what else can I do?  I feel trapped and helpless.  I feel like I have no power or control over this situation at all and very few options open to me financially.

I guess I’ll see how things go after she calms down.   She’s done this sort of thing before and then apologizes later.   She always does say her father treated me like crap and I should have left sooner.    I just don’t know what to think anymore.  It’s times like this I just feel so backed into a corner and helpless.

I just had to vent.  To get this off my chest.   This post reminds me of my early articles, when I first started this blog and was realizing I had been abused throughout my life, and set about describing the mental and emotional abuse that was inflicted on me by my ex and by my family.   It seems I still haven’t broken that pattern and it snuck in again when I least expected it.

I have no idea what to do, really.

Birds and scenery at Anclote Key, FL

I had a wonderful time with my son in Florida. It’s amazing what a week away can do for your soul. I stayed away from the news, and therefore had no idea what was going on in Trumpland, and didn’t really care either (I was able to put my concern on hold while I was away).

I will post a selection of photos I took later, but my son, who is a professional videographer now, took these amazing photos of some sea birds when we went out to Anclote Key (a national park consisting of a group of small uninhabited islands and sandbars about 4 miles into the Gulf of Mexico from Tarpon Springs). This is a wonderfully remote place, accessible only by boat.   The many tidal pools are a shellers’ paradise.   There are two ferries that go there  several times a day.

I had a great time, and got to spend more time with my son this time than last year, since he took a few days off work, but it’s still good to be back.  (Well, sort of).

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I’m sorry…

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It’s been a long time since I posted.  I haven’t forgotten about my readers.   I hope no one is worried — I am fine.   I’m actually on vacation, visiting my son in Florida.  Right now I’m at Clearwater Beach and having a wonderful time.

I’ll try to find time to post tomorrow about my trip.  The weather is supposed to be kind of crummy and rainy, so I might not be getting much or any beach time.  I have a ton of pictures.   The one you see heading this post is an actual sign in my hotel room.  It’s a standard room, but has a cute beach decor.

In the meantime, here’s one of the sunset tonight.   It got cloudy, but the sun peeked out from behind the clouds just minutes before it set.

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Dominator vs. nurturing cultures.

This article from Raw Story is probably the best essay I’ve read this year.   The subject matter reminds me of the Daniel Quinn novel, Ishmael, in which the protagonist must weigh the pros and cons of a  dominator culture and an egalitarian earth culture.

The title is a bit misleading since the article doesn’t focus just on the increasing brutality of the rulers of crumbling empires, although ruthlessness and brutality is certainly a feature of “Empire” (dominator cultures), especially when the rulers fear they are losing power.

History Shows That as Empires Crumble, the Ruling Elites Become Ever More Ruthless

Spring in the mountains.

These three gorgeous pictures capture the Blue Ridge in April.   These photos were taken from about 3,000 feet.

I wasn’t lucky enough to get the flowering dogwoods or many other flowering trees (most have turned green by now).

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Postwar prosperity, socialism, and empathy: what do they have to do with each other?

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Republicans have a new tactic they’re using to turn people away from Democratic candidates who would like to see New Deal style social programs implemented or enhanced:   they’re using the scare word “socialism.”

I don’t really understand how that word became such a sore point for so many Republicans.  We’re not talking about Stalin-style socialism, which was really communism: a far left form of authoritarianism.   Hitler’s “national socialist” party (Nazi Party) wasn’t socialist at all; it was fascist.   But Republicans trot out these examples  when they try to explain why socialism is so bad.

Democratic socialism and happiness.

Democratic socialism (or social democracy) is the type of government in  western and central Europe and most of the advanced industrialized countries.   The Scandinavian countries, which are the most socialist in terms of benefits to the people (and high tax rates on the rich),  also happen to have the highest happiness indices.   Finland is #1 in terms of overall happiness; Denmark is #2, and so on.

But what about freedom?   Contrary to what many people think,  people in these countries are extremely free (much more so than Americans), but there is less freedom (meaning more restrictions and laws) on corporations, which is the way things should be in a moral society.

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All of these countries are prosperous, with little poverty, long lifespans, superior health, and high education levels.  Even the poorest working people are paid a wage they can live modestly on, and even support a family on.   People in these countries also have a lot more time to spend traveling, learning new skills, go to college or graduate school (which are free or low cost), or just enjoy life.   They have weeks’ more more vacation time than Americans do, and long maternity leaves.   Their life expectancy is higher than ours, and their infant mortality is lower.

Single payer healthcare vs. private health insurance. 

In these advanced democracies, people don’t have to worry about going bankrupt should they become sick, or dying from preventable illnesses for lack of healthcare.   And since healthcare isn’t connected to employment, losing one’s job doesn’t mean you lose your health insurance.   Private insurance companies’ motive isn’t for you to be healthy or get well; in fact, they have a vested interest in keeping you sick (Big Pharma makes more money) and denying your claims.   Your insurance company can deny a claim for a lifesaving but expensive procedure as “medically unnecessary” because a less effective procedure is cheaper for them.

Compare this to government funded (single payer) healthcare, whose motive isn’t to make a profit for some bigwig insurance company CEO, but to have a healthy and productive society.  People pay taxes and everyone benefits.  Republicans love to talk about the long wait times, but that is a myth.   They are no longer than wait times here in America, and no one is ever denied care.   Single payer aims to keep people healthy so the society is happy and productive, not rake in profits off of illness, a practice which is immoral.  Why do we have to have a middleman whose primary motive is to drive a wedge between people and their right (yes, I did say “right”) to good health?

“Oh, but I can keep my doctor!”
Really?  Maybe, but maybe not. If your doctor is “out of network,” you may be paying out of pocket to see that doctor, or your claim could be denied.  Single payer healthcare would ensure you’d be able to see any doctor you want as long as they were qualified to practice, and there would be no or very little cost to you.   So that argument is bullshit.

People should be able to live their lives without having to worry about dying or going bankrupt because they get sick.   In America, if you get sick, your life could be turned upside down or even ruined.  Too, even if you have good company health insurance, if you get a long term illness such as cancer, you could be let go from your job, and lose your insurance anyway, when you most need it.  And don’t forget about those lifetime caps (which the GOP wants to bring back, along with preexisting conditions).

So if single payer (government funded) healthcare is so much better and most countries opted for it a long time ago and aren’t exactly clamoring to have an insane, unworkable, wasteful, unaffordable, profit oriented, confusing clusterfuck of a healthcare system like ours,  why haven’t we adopted it?

Because “socialism.”

Why are we so afraid of socialism?

Many Americans (especially Republicans) are terrified of socialism.   I think they don’t understand what socialism actually is.  They think it’s communism, or Naziism, or fascism, or something to do with the old Soviet Union and the Cold War.

Democratic socialism (or social democracy) is a system of government in which there is a free market and capitalism, but unlike our system, there are regulations and laws that keep corporations from exploiting the people.    People in social democracies are actually more free to start businesses of their own, because they don’t have to worry about being without healthcare while their fledgling business is first getting established.  People also earn more (and get unemployment benefits, and sometimes even a guaranteed minimum income) so they are more likely to have the capital to start a business of their own.   In America, most people are slaves to their jobs, and can’t leave because they can’t afford to lose their healthcare or paycheck.   They also have no protections from employers who want to exploit them due to “right to work” laws that  benefit the employer, not the worker; and the busting up of unions, which used to protect workers from exploitive employers and guarantee a living wage.

Postwar prosperity and socialism.

Most people would agree that America’s most prosperous  years were the two decades following the end of World War II ended.    Conservatives love to wax nostalgic about the Fifties in particular: a time when families were strong and women stayed home and raised children while the men worked.   If women worked, they were usually teachers, nurses, librarians, or secretaries.  While there were always nonconformists and  outliers (such as the Beatniks), most Americans lived this cookie cutter lifestyle.   Crime was generally low, and the gap between the richest and poorest was narrower than it had ever been before, or has been since.

While women didn’t have as many choices as they would later on, and people of color had few rights (that wouldn’t change until the civil rights movement), for most, life was prosperous and America became the envy of the free world and eventually the most powerful nation on earth.    Americans’ new prosperity and our national wealth would not have been possible without the new social programs the New Deal created: social security, Medicare, public schools, Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, and the GI bill, which helped young veterans and military workers purchase homes.  Although single payer healthcare never got off the ground (it was on the table from FDR through Nixon, but for various reasons never became law), healthcare wasn’t generally very expensive compared to what people earned.    Most people could easily afford to see a doctor and private health insurance was not expensive (and was provided by almost every employer, which it no longer is).

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Returning to the “Good Old Days.”

It always floors me when Republicans wax nostalgic over how great the 1950s were. They always forget one of the main reasons we were prosperous (and the reason why families were able to live on just one income, allowing women to stay home and take care of the house and kids) was because there was a lot more socialism.  In fact, capitalism works best when leavened with a little (or even more than a little) socialism.  Franklin D. Roosevelt knew this, and it was his socialist policies, including his support for unions that helped build a strong middle class, that brought us out of the Great Depression and into the prosperity of the postwar era.   Most Republicans in the 1950s and 1960s agreed these policies and programs were desirable.   The Republican Platform of 1956 (pictured above) is to the left of even the current Democratic platform.    As a nation, we have moved so far to the right we have become almost a fascist state.

Today,  Republicans refuse to acknowledge the role socialism played in the “good old days” they yearn for so much.  They seem to think that to go back to the simpler times of the 1950s, we must have laws that restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare including access to birth control.  Four states just passed the “heartbeat bill” which effectively bans abortion after six weeks (in Ohio, it just became law), when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant.   They think that forcing women to carry every pregnancy to term (even if her life is in danger or in cases of rape and incest), and enacting “religious freedom” laws (which are actually the opposite of freedom)  that allow discrimination against groups ultraconservative evangelicals don’t like (LGBTQ or Muslims, for example) will magically bring back an era they idealize.

Oppressing women, people of color, and other marginalized groups will not bring us back to the postwar years.   Instead, it will bring us back to the Gilded Age (a time of great inequality, robber barons, and grinding poverty and early death for most people), or even earlier than that.  The bottom line is that people who think this way care only about controlling women and keeping people of color “in their place.”   They don’t care about prosperity or a good life for most.

If we are ever to get back to the kind of prosperity we enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s, we have to get over our fear of socialism, and expand beneficial government programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the public school system, infrastructure, and other public works that benefit the common good.  We need to introduce single payer healthcare like other developed countries did decades ago.   We need to bring back unions which protect workers and their families.

Finally, we need to raise taxes on the rich.  In the 1950s, the rich were taxed at 90%!   That sounds excessive, but it really isn’t.  A wealthy person will still be rich even if most of their wealth is paid through taxes to benefit the community.  In an ethical and empathetic society, the wealthy don’t mind paying taxes for the common good.   Rich people in other countries don’t mind.   We never used to either.   When the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, they don’t create new jobs, as we are told they do.    Instead, they buy back their own stocks, and they can literally buy politicians and political parties whose agenda benefits them the most.  Inequality increases, and everyone else’s quality of life declines.  Fascism begins to creep in.

Our empathy deficit.

At its core, the problem with America is a severe empathy deficit.  Greed and selfishness got the upper hand due to Reagan’s policies and tax breaks for the wealthy in the 1980s. Those who benefited the most and became rich (or richer) liked their newfound wealth so much they wanted more.  And more, and more, and more.   Demonizing the poor (and later, even the middle class) became a way to rationalize their insatiable greed, and to do so, they had to sacrifice empathy.   The utter heartlessness and cruelty of Trump’s America is the end result.

I’ll take democratic socialism any day over the kleptocratic near-fascist state we are now living in.   But democratic socialism (and really, any kind of democracy) requires empathy and a desire to contribute to the greater good.  We need to get back to that.  The lack of empathy is anathema to life and could lead to the end of humanity, not just the end of America.

*****

Further reading:

The Benefits of Socialism

Narcissism and sadism.

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Things I Don’t Relate To

Fran Nowve has some things to say about my recent post about how a furry I never met helped me cope with the prospect of my own death. I don’t agree with everything she says in her post, but it’s certainly an interesting commentary.

I was rather aghast at the story about the middle aged father of seven who identifies as a six year old girl and got himself “adopted” so he can live out his fantasy.  Of course he is an adult who has the right to do whatever he wants as long as he’s hurting no one, but what about the family he left behind?

I’m sorry, but I think that’s much weirder than being a furry. I’ve never known a furry who actually identified as the animal they were depicting (it’s not like being transgender or anything). I know a bit about the furry community because of my son, and for most of them, it’s just a fun hobby and a way for shy or awkward young people to socialize and/or explore the performing arts behind the safety of a mask. Dancing is a big thing in the furry community.  Some of them outgrow furry, and emerge with more self confidence and skills they can then parlay into careers in the arts.

Although there is a subset of furries who have a sexual fetish about dressing up as cartoon animals, most just do it for fun. It’s really no different from a Star Trek convention, and in fact this hobby grew out of the scifi community.   But due to an old episode of the crime show CSI, in which a furry turned out to be a serial sex killer, furries have gained a negative reputation.  It’s time to set the record straight.

That being said, there are some people in this world who do some very weird things, both harmless and harmful. I don’t even know what to think about the man who identifies as a little girl.   It’s one thing to be transgender, but identifying as a six year old seems beyond the pale to me.

People are strange.

Comments are closed here.  Please comment on the original post.

CLUSTER B

…and yet,

furries-500x333My friend, Lucky Otter, doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. Yet, I never “felt” more psychopathic than I did reading her latest blog, A furry that I never met helped me conquer my fear of death. Her son is what is known as a “furry.” I had never heard of them until Lucky blogged about her son. I’m sorry, Lucky. I just can’t relate to this phenomenon.

dogbomb1The furry who helped her overcome her fear of death, Tony Barrett, aka “Dogbomb,” is pictured on the blog I linked to above. His face is what I can only call “creepy.” He has what I would call “a kick me face.” Furries wear animal costumes which look like pajamas with fake fur and a head mask. What I find most off-putting is the way they almost all look like “animals” you would see in kids’ cartoons. They are unbearably CUTE.

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Sunday meditation.

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