Update about my son’s mental health ordeal.

This is just a quick update about my son, who started suffering severe panic attacks/dissociation episodes and a week later, from near-suicidal depression.

He is doing much better.   It turned out the medication the Emergency Room gave him to control the panic attacks (lorazepam — commercially known as Ativan) had an adverse effect on him and caused the depression.   Since he stopped taking them, he has not been depressed.

He’s been a lot less anxious too, but that may have been job-related.   He was transferred to a different location which is closer to his home, and is less stressful, and he has not had another attack.

He still plans to find a therapist, since he is an anxious person who has OCD and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which my daughter also has).  Having these disorders together makes a person likely to suffer sudden panic attacks.

Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and prayers!  I do think that helped too.

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Panic attacks, dissociation, and my son’s anxiety issues.

escher

Geometries by M.C. Escher

 

My son, who already suffers from OCD and ADHD (both diagnosed) tweeted this the other night:

I just had one of the strangest things happen… and it was the scariest experience of my life. I just had a Depersonalization/Derealization episode. It was SO FUCKING TERRIFYING. I thought I was gonna wake up in the ER or never sleep again.

Then later:

Other than OCD, ADHD and depression i have no psych disorders i know of. That shit LITERALLY made me feel like i’d lost my grip on reality and self.

The next day:

I’m going to the emergency room.

A few hours later:

Guys, if anything happens i love you all. Absolutely terrified in the waiting room rn feeling like death.

Late last night:

I got released. They gave me an anxiety pill. It was officially diagnosed as an anxiety attack.

Today:

Looking into therapy. my anxiety is getting REALLY bad.

As his mom, of course I was alarmed by these tweets.  But, as someone who used to suffer from panic attacks just as debilitating during my 20s and 30s, I KNOW HOW HE FEELS!  Panic attacks suck, and the type that involve dissociation are absolutely the worst.   For me, the dissociation usually involved derealization (feeling like your environment was unreal) but sometimes depersonalization (feeling like you’re disconnected from the world or like you’re not in your own body) too.

The panic might be hereditary.  His father suffers from anxiety attacks too.   I used to have exactly the kind of panic attacks he describes — always some kind of dissociative hell where I felt like everything was a dream and the people around me suddenly looked very frightening — either robotic or demonic.  Sometimes they looked like wax figures or seemed like they were being run by machines, and the environment itself became very surreal and dreamlike.  Sometimes it looked like a cartoon or two-dimensional.

disorienting

Museum installation by artist Peter Koler

During the worst attacks, I used to feel like I was literally outside of my body, and that really freaked me out.   I actually would have trouble controlling my body.  I remember once this happened to me on the subway in New York (which is scary enough as it is!) and I literally had to run off the train as soon as it stopped and ran into a corner and started whimpering.    Sometimes I used to have to bite my hands to feel “real.”   There were a few times I actually drew blood from doing that.    These dissociative episodes felt just like a bad drug trip, and I’ve had a few of those too.

I suffered from my first dissociative panic attack at about age 10.  I was playing outside in the early evening in the driveway and suddenly I felt like I wasn’t in my body.   But I wasn’t able to find the words to describe the feeling, and when I tried to tell my mother about how “weird” I felt, she had no idea what I was talking about and said I was being overdramatic and imagining things.   Eventually it passed, but from then on, every so often I’d get that weird feeling again.   As I entered my teens and twenties, the attacks became worse and more frequent.   They eventually tapered off when I reached my thirties and I haven’t had a full blown panic attack in years.

In my case, the episodes may have been due to my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or possibly from C-PTSD and/or BPD.    I don’t think my son has BPD, but he likely has PTSD or C-PTSD (his father is a narcissist and we had a very toxic marriage when the kids were young, which I have described elsewhere in this blog).   OCD can definitely cause a person to have anxiety or panic attacks, and I’m sure having ADHD just exacerbates the tendency.

I talked to him tonight for a while about this, and suggested some mindfulness tools that have helped me.   I think CBT could help him with this.  Thankfully, he has health insurance with his job, and has set up an appointment to see a therapist.  The emergency room gave him a short term prescription for some anti-anxiety meds (not benzodiazepines though).   But there are many things he can do to help himself too.

He has never sought therapy for his anxiety or OCD because he’s been able to deal with it  on his own until now, but he does need help with the panic and dissociation.   He also admitted his new job is much more stressful than he expected, and he is already looking around for something else.

If you pray, please send your prayers his way.  No one ever died or went crazy from a panic attack, but as someone who’s suffered from them, I know they can certainly feel that way when you’re in the midst of one!

*****

Further reading:

Derealization and Depersonalization in BPD and NPD

The ultimate dissociative experience.

thanatophobia2

Death isn’t something I like to think about, much less write about.  In fact, it’s my biggest fear (outside of the death of one of my children).  Oh, I know all the pat arguments and rationalizations that it’s not so bad–death is a part of life, death is nothing to be afraid of, if you’re a good Christian you will go to Heaven and there will be no fear, nothing at all will happen so there will be no fear, even the idea that death is beautiful.

I woke this morning, as I often do, thinking about how much I fear my own death.  I think this is a little obsessive-compulsiveness on my part, and probably something I should talk about more in therapy.   The mental health field has a name for the irrational or excessive fear of death: thanatophobia.    So far I’ve only talked to God about my phobia but I feel like He isn’t listening.     People in my age group (50’s) say they’re beginning to come to terms with the prospect of death, but so far, for me, that hasn’t happened.  I get more scared every year.

Maybe death terrifies me because it entails complete ego loss–it’s the ultimate dissociative experience, and as someone who has had massive panic attacks usually instigated by dissociative experiences (feeling out my body, feeling like things are dreamlike or unreal, etc.) it would be natural for me to be afraid of what it might feel like.   It’s like someone who had a bad drug trip and is mentally unstable to begin with being slipped some acid when they’re unaware of it–and never being able to return to reality.

I don’t like to write about death, because even thinking about it too long makes me extremely anxious.  But I need to write about it, and need to talk about it with others, and maybe find comfort in the fact that others have the same sense of trepidation and worry.  Maybe I’m not alone in my fear of death and dying.   So I’m going to plow on. Writing about it surely can’t hurt.

thanatophobia

I’ve been told by many Christians that, if I am strong in my faith, that there is nothing to fear, because I can be sure of my place in Heaven after I die.   But this makes things even worse for me, because I do have doubts in my faith and I am not at certain I am going to Heaven, or even that there is a Heaven.   No matter how much I pray for perfect faith, I can’t seem to make my mind rid itself of its many doubts.   There are just some things about Christianity I can’t make myself believe or at least not question.  Again, maybe it’s my obsessive-compulsiveness.   As someone who is afraid to trust anyone and is hypervigilant, it’s even hard for me to completely trust God and not worry about what will happen to me after I die. I look at others–even narc abuse survivors who should be as hypervigilant as I am–who seem to have attained perfect faith and I marvel at this. How do they do it?

Although it’s hard for me to believe that if I question Christianity or what the Bible says, that God will send me to burn in Hell for eternity even if I’m otherwise a good person (that seems like a terribly cruel, narcissistic God to me), how do I know for sure God isn’t like that?  Maybe God is really that cruel and narcissistic, but in that case, why would I want to even spend eternity in Heaven, trapped there with sanctimonious, self righteous, insufferable believers? (I’m not saying all believers are like that, but I’ve met more than a few who are).  In that case, maybe Heaven would be more like Hell.     But Hell…well, I definitely don’t want to go there.

But Christianity is only one way to look at the issue of death.  Let’s face it.   No matter how sure you are in your faith, whatever it is, none of us really knows what’s going to happen after we die.   What if the New Agers are right and what happens is you look back and see yourself lying on the hospital bed, pavement, or whatever, see your own broken, bleeding, or used-up body there, and then watch as they pull the sheet over your head?  What if you are swooshed at light-speed down a long tunnel toward “the light” and meet angels and see otherworldly landscapes and other inexplicable things?   Or what if you float around the earth as a disembodied spirit, revisiting your friends and relatives you left behind?   People who have reported NDE’s (near death experiences) have said that at some point they become aware they have died (that’s usually when they “come back”) and most say it’s very disorienting and even scary at first, because their bodies just aren’t there.   All of these things, no matter how pleasant others have said they are, strike terror in me, because they sound like dissociative experiences that you can never escape from.   I’ve struggled with episodes of dissociation my entire life, but no matter how terrifying they became, I always knew I’d “return” and the experience would probably only last a few minutes.   Does something happen after you die where you’re no longer afraid of such things, or do you just learn to deal with it?

death_quote

Maybe this is true, but I wish I could believe it.

What if the atheists and existentialists are right and nothing happens after you die?  What if you simply cease to exist?   While I find that prospect extremely depressing,  it actually causes me the least anxiety.   Eternal sleep and unconsciousness doesn’t seem so bad to me.  If you’re aware of nothing, well, there’s nothing to be afraid of or get depressed about, is there?  But I still don’t like the idea that this life is ultimately meaningless.   What is all the struggle for then?

Reincarnation doesn’t seem so bad, and actually does make some logical sense to my scientifically-leaning brain, but it flies in the face of being a Christian.   I don’t know of any Christians who acknowledge that reincarnation is a possibility after death.  But why couldn’t it be? As a Catholic, we believe in the concept of purgatory, a place of purification (not punishment) after death.  But no one can explain what purgatory might be like.  Maybe living additional lives is what purgatory actually means?   Again…we just don’t know.

'It's not that I'm afraid of dying, Doctor... It's just that I don't want to be there when it happens!'

‘It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, Doctor… It’s just that I don’t want to be there when it happens!’

Maybe we just go back to wherever we were before we were born, and have amnesia for this life. Or maybe it’s like eternal dreaming (that doesn’t sound too bad). Again, we don’t know.

Besides the inevitable experience of death, which seems bad enough, I’m terrified by the prospect of dying.   I’m in my 50’s, and figure I might (realistically) have about another two or three decades of life left.   To someone my age, that doesn’t seem so long.  Twenty years ago was 1996; thirty years ago was 1986.   That means that in that same amount of time, going forward, I will probably be leaving my body permanently, but before that, I may well suffer either unbelievable pain or a few moments of sheer terror.   Few people just die peacefully in their sleep or just suddenly keel over while out on the golf course (that’s the way a 90 year old great uncle of mine died).   Most suffer first, either for months (as in a long illness) or a few seconds (as in an accident).   I’m terrified of both.  I know there’s no way to get out of this life alive, so the inevitable is going to happen, and there’s not a whole lot of time left before it does. Even worse, each year time seems to hurtle forward twice as fast as the year before. What seemed like “a long time ago” to me twenty years ago now seems like the blink of an eye.

As someone who tends to overthink everything,  I probably think about death and dying way too much.  I know I should just stop and enjoy life while I still have it.   But the more I try not to think about it, the more I seem to.   It’s like that game where you try not to think about an elephant.  I pray about this all the time but it hasn’t helped very much.    I just keep feeling guilty because  no matter how hard I try, I can’t embrace my Christianity with perfect faith.   I have no guarantee I’m going to Heaven.   I keep questioning everything and then I worry about going to hell.  Or being eternally dissociated, which to me would be hell.  Or just worrying about the intolerable suffering that will precede my exit from this planet.    Maybe I need to talk to my therapist about this because it seems like it could be a form of undiagnosed OCD.

Further Reading:
My Fear of Death

Always waiting for the other shoe to drop…

afraid-to-be-happy

I think I made a kind of breakthrough in my therapy session tonight. For years one of my problems has been this overwhelming fear that something bad will happen to one of my kids. (I don’t like to even say the D word because I irrationally believe if I say it, I’ll somehow make it happen, by putting it out into the universe or something).

Of course all parents worry about their adult kids, especially when they know they’re out there somewhere in cars, which we all know are dangerous hunks of metal capable of the most ghastly and gory deaths you can imagine and operated by countless idiots and drunks on the road who can’t drive. I think my apprehension about something bad happening to my adult children edges into OCD-type territory though, because of how overpowering and pervasive these thoughts are, intruding where and when they are not welcome, even though I know that in all likelihood, something bad will NOT happen and even if it does, worrying about it excessively is like living through it twice. I think about my hypothetical reaction to such an event and wonder how I would retain my sanity, if not my will to live. I always marvel at people who have lost a child in a sudden manner like a car accident (a long illness is more bearable because you have time to prepare for it and process it) and wonder how they can still go on with their day to day activities–going shopping, paying bills, working at a job, watching a movie, hell, even having FUN sometimes. I know that wouldn’t be me and I obsess over how I might react.

I’ve been so haunted by the remote possibility of getting THAT life-changing phone call late some night (you know the one), that it’s even been a recurrent theme in my writings. I had a dream over a year ago about losing my son, and wrote a post about it, called Losing Ethan.

fine_line

Anyway, I decided to bring up this problem because it doesn’t exactly make my life happier and it annoys the hell out of my kids. The first thing my therapist did was tell me to stop BEING those feelings, but just OWN them. In other words, he’d noticed that when I talk about bad feelings that make me ashamed or anxious, I always use the term “I am….” Instead he told me to practice saying, “I feel…” or “I have…” In this way, you create a bit of a distance between yourself and the bad feeling. That doesn’t mean you don’t feel it, but with a little distance, the emotion can be explored, almost from the viewpoint of a third person. Ironically, what happens is you feel the emotion MORE (I can’t really explain why that works but it does).

His advice was brilliant, because a few minutes later, I made a connection. In 1998, with my then-husband in jail, I was forced to learn to drive his stickshift truck. I had to teach myself and never learned to park the truck properly. So after picking up my kids from their after school program and pulling into our driveway, I set it to Neutral and the truck began to roll downhill–containing both my kids, then ages 5 and 7, straight toward a TREE. The events that played out next are described in this post, called The Tree.

The important thing is, I’d connected this traumatic event in August of 1998 to my current obsessive thoughts about tragedy striking and generally always feeling like I’m about to receive some devastating news–and I knew immediately that these unpleasant thoughts are based on guilt and shame. I started to tell my therapist that I always felt guilty that the truck had rolled and that I *could* have killed them. For about 10 years I couldn’t even talk about it, because any time I did, I’d start feeling very dissociated and anxious. My ex knew how to press all my buttons, and knew this was my biggest one. If he wanted to upset me all he had to do was remind me what a rotten mother I was to almost kill my kids that night because he knows I’m still struggling with guilt over my failure to protect them, my failure to be smart enough to know how to park a stickshift.

I’m always very mindful of my body language, voice and gestures when I’m in session, probably as much as my therapist is. These things can tell you a LOT about yourself, not just about others. And I realized as I was making these connections that my body relaxed and I leaned back but my voice became softer and sadder. I was opening up to him in a way I hadn’t before. He just listened, with what appeared to be a great deal of empathy.

somedays

And at some point I felt tears come to my eyes. My eyes just barely glistening, tears not overflowing, but there, making the backs of my eyelids feel warm. I looked off to my left like I always do when I get deep into stuff, and kept on talking. I felt myself opening up and feeling some kind of generic emotion that wasn’t sadness and wasn’t guilt and wasn’t gratitude or joy but was none of these things and yet all of these things. I wanted to share all this with him. I heard myself speak and my voice became thick and my eyes burned again.

There was more, much more, but I’ll end this here because I’m getting emotional writing this. The important thing is, I almost shed tears in front of my therapist tonight. That might not seem like such a big a deal, but for me it was a huge deal because I haven’t been able to cry in front of another human being in about 15 years–which I realized is when THAT happened. (It might have been longer than that though–my memories of the time I was in my horrible marriage are gray, shadowy and even have yawning gaps in places).

What happened tonight is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg–I was seriously fucked up for a very, very, VERY long time, at least since age 4 or 5–but it’s significant because it means the wall in my head that prevents me from really being able to connect to my emotions is developing a few weak spots.

Survivor hypervigilance and the danger of false labeling

labelkit

Earlier today I wrote that I thought my daughter may have NPD because she had taken my phone when she lost hers, and seemed uncaring that I had no way of contacting her or anyone else. About an hour ago, she returned with my phone, and seemed very apologetic and remorseful.

Granted, my daughter does have some narcissistic traits, but she is also Borderline, and most Borderlines do have some narcissistic behaviors–after all, they’re still in the Cluster B group of personality disorders (Cluster B disorders are those characterized by excessive dramatic behavior and/or lack empathy). But she’s not a Narcissist. She does have a conscience and can show empathy, and she’s also self-critical, something true Narcs are not.

My point here is this. I think we survivors have a problem with lack of trust. Having been hurt too often by those with malevolent character, sometimes even by our own parents, we tend to be hypervigilant and quick to label people as NPD if they show even the slightest self-centered behaviors. Since we all can be self-centered and narcissistic at times, then we can falsely pin the NPD label on almost anyone.

Hypervigilance and paranoia is a huge problem for survivors. We have learned not to trust anyone, or even trust our own instincts (since all too often we seem to be attracted to those who are narcissists). Many if not most of us suffer from C-PTSD (PTSD resulting from having been the victim in an abusive relationship). We are quick to jump to conclusions and overreact to behaviors that trigger us, even if no malevolent intent is involved, and even imagining narcissistic behavior where none actually exists. This can cause misunderstandings and result in an inability to become close to anyone and sometimes even make it impossible for us to allow anyone to be our friend. We don’t believe anyone has our best interests at heart.

Here I am going to attempt to describe some behaviors that really are narcissistic, and also differentiate other disorders that may be mistaken for NPD. This list is not exhaustive; there are many other symptoms of NPD I may have neglected to list, but here are the ones I am most familiar with from my own relationships with narcissists. For convenience, I am using the masculine pronoun, but of course all of these could apply to females as well.

How to Spot a Narcissist.

1. Does he come on strong in the beginning, love-bombing you with gifts and words, giving you his undivided attention, but does he also try to rush the relationship toward commitment? If he does, he wants the “courtship” phase over with quickly, because once he knows you’re his, he can revert to his true narcissistic self and you become his narcissistic supply. A huge red flag is if he talks about past relationships in a way where he paints himself as blameless and the ex as a blackhearted villain.

2. Is his “teasing” sadistic and cruel? Does he keep doing it after you’ve told him to stop, and even after you’re no longer laughing?

3. Does he like to put you down in front of others, and then call you “too sensitive” or “lacking a sense of humor” if you rightfully object?

4. Does he play mind games? These can include any of the following: gaslighting (trying to make you believe you are crazy or are losing your memory by denying actual incidents you have called to his attention); triangulating (creating drama between two other people by telling each person lies about the other one–example: he tells a friend of yours you were saying bad things about them even though you were not, and then tells you your friend said they really don’t like you). This is crazymaking stuff.

5. Does he lie even when there’s no reason to lie? Does he deny any wrongdoing even when the evidence is in his face?

6. If he cannot deny the wrongdoing, does he make excuses as to why it wasn’t wrong? True narcissists can never apologize.

7. Does he have one or more “flying monkeys” (people he has won over to his side in his campaign against you)? If he can get other people to side with him (sometimes other family members) and ALL of them are saying YOU’RE the crazy one, that’s the cruelest form of bullying and gaslighting imaginable. RUN! Narcs are very glib and have a lot of charm, and it’s easy for them to make others believe YOU are the one with the problem, and they are just blameless victims. If they’ve read up on narcissism, they may even say YOU are the narcissist.

8. He has a black and white view of the world. If you’re the least bit critical, he concludes you’re against him. If you’re not 100% in agreement, that’s reason to attack.

9. Is he condescending, sarcastic, talks down to you, or otherwise make you feel belittled and diminished, especially when others are present?

10. Does he bring up your most personal matters in front of others, in an effort to embarrass you?

11. Does he trash you behind your back, and then deny he ever said anything (perhaps “gaslighting”–telling you you are imagining things?)

12. Does he steal from you, and then deny it?

13. Does he make you engage in behaviors that are illegal or go against your morals?

14. Does he seem to never have anything nice to say about anything or anyone? Narcissists are excessively negative, unless they are in the “love bombing” phase (when they’re trying to woo you, or when they feel there’s a threat you may leave and they may be deprived of their “narcissistic supply”)

15. Not all, but many narcissists have co-existing addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. This can be a red flag, but not all Narcs have substance abuse problems (and certainly not all those with addictions are Narcs).

16. Does he act entitled, expecting to be given things and treated in a special way, without doing anything to deserve the special treatment, and never giving anything back in return?

17. Does he lack empathy or become upset or enraged of he believes someone else is getting more (attention, material goods, love, etc.) than he is?

18. Does he seem to be nice to everyone but you? Narcs are chamelions who can change masks at the drop of a hat.

19. Do you ever get the odd feeling there is “nothing there” or even get a sense of evil from the person? I saw this black void in both my mother and my ex husband, and it scared the daylights out of me both times. If you get this sense, or see the solid black eyes, RUN as fast as you can. People who are HSPs or empaths are more likely to “see through” a psychopath this way, and HSPs are also most at danger of becoming their victims, not just because of their vulnerability, but also because the narcissist envies and hates the quality of high sensitivity because of the potential it has to “out” them for what they really are, and that terrifies them.*

20. Does he blame-shift, that is, projecting things that go wrong onto you? For example, if he loses his wallet, he finds a way to blame you for it. If your kid becomes sick, it’s because you were “careless” in allowing them to be exposed to others who were sick.

21. Does he project his own character flaws onto you? For example, telling you (and anyone else he wants on his side) that YOU are selfish and lack empathy? My ex actually did this to me, making ME the narcissist. It’s enough to make you batshit crazy.

22. They overreact and are hypersensitive to insults. The poor things are so easily hurt *bring out the tiny violins* Actually, for them it’s just hurt pride. Insult their pride and they’re likely to fly into a narcissistic rage.

23. They have no respect for boundaries. They’ll rummage through your personal belongings, invade your space, blast their music (and get mad at YOU if you ask them to turn it down), talk loudly when you are trying to sleep, and generally just be in your face all the time.

24. Finally, is your psychopath attracted to “dark” or “evil” things? I noticed my NPD ex-husband liked a lot of things that gave me the heebie jeebies: images of demons, zombies, vampires, slasher movies, and he was also attracted to the occult. His taste in music was also very dark: he listened to a lot of death metal. I’m not judgmental about music and can appreciate all genres (even if it’s not something I would listen to), but much of the music he listened to just gave me bad vibes. Granted, some narcissists are “paragons of virtue” and they can often be found in churches, schools, and unfortunately, government. Our current government and the top echelons of large corporations are filled with narcissists, and this is why the United States is in such sorry shape today. Be that as it may, many people with NPD are attracted to the dark underbelly of things.

There are other behaviors typical of NPDs and psychopaths, but the ones I listed are the ones my psychopaths used most frequently in my victimization. After being subjected to these crazymaking behaviors for so long, it’s not surprising survivors can become hypervigilant and automatically label any triggering behavior from anyone as being psychopathic. We have to be careful not to jump to conclusions.

Look for Patterns.

It helps to look for a pattern–if the behavior happens over and over again, and is combined with other narcissistic behaviors I have listed, that’s a red flag. If it’s an isolated incident, and it isn’t part of a regular pattern, chances are that person is not narcissistic. It’s hard for a survivor of abuse to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, but observation before judging is important to avoid the problem of false labeling and possibly rejecting a person who may actually be good for us.

Other disorders that can mimic Narcissism and Psychopathy.

Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy): This is similar to NPD/psychopathy, except the person with APD is far more likely to engage in criminal behavior (narcissists like to maintain their blameless image, although they may break the law too in more subtle ways), and although they too show no remorse or empathy, their behavior tends to be more impulsive and there is some evidence that people with APD have difficulty telling the difference between right and wrong.

Borderline Personality Disorder: These are people whose personalities have never “come together.” Like the narcissist they can be very charming and attractive at first, but they tend to be emotionally intense and overreact to everything, especially slights. Borderlines are the true “drama queens.” Their relationships are unstable and stormy, and they are high-maintenance and very demanding. Many people with BPD have issues with addiction. They are likely to have narcissistic traits, but unlike someone with NPD, they are capable of empathy and remorse. They act impulsively, think later.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Some people with OCD are very controlling and get very upset if their routines or rituals are disrupted. People with severe OCD can seem unempathic and self centered, but they act the way they do because of the overwhelming anxiety that underlies their control freak appearance.

Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are not narcissistic or psychopathic, but are asocial and live very much inside their own heads. Their behavior may be odd or eccentric. They seem to lack empathy, but are really just not very aware of what other people may be feeling or how their odd or aloof behavior may upset those close to them.

Aspergers/autism: People on the autism spectrum, like the schizoid personity type, are likely to be asocial and keep to themselves–or when forced to socialize, their behavior can seem awkward. Because they cannot read social cues, they may say or do hurtful or inappropriate things, which can make them seem narcissistic. But if their hurtful behavior is called out to them, most of these people do feel shame and remorse.

* My next article will be about HSPs and why they’re so often targeted and bullied by psychopaths,