Why narcissists are more hated than psychopaths.

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Lucky Otters Haven

narcissism_vs_psyhopathy

All four Cluster B disorders are vilified, especially on the Internet, but for a long time I wondered why NPD seemed to be even more demonized than ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) and psychopathy and seemed to be regarded as the most “evil” disorder to have.   After all, most narcissists are not going around breaking the law, murdering people (not physically, anyway), and most at least pretend to be nice to you, at least if your relationship is only casual.  They make a good impression and most have families and respectable jobs.  They go to church, teach second grade, and volunteer at the food pantry. If you’re just acquaintances or casual friends with a narcissist, they can even be a lot of fun.    They also provide a lot of our entertainment, as narcissism (including NPD) is over-represented  among celebrities, and what would we do without our movie, sports, and pop…

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Subtypes of ASPD.

heresjohnny

I never knew that Antisocial Personality Disorder had different subtypes, but it does make sense that it would.     These are Millon’s ten subtypes of ASPD (antisocial personality disorder).   Theodore Millon was a psychologist who specialized in personality disorders and subdivided them into various subtypes.   (In a future article, I’ll write a post about his Borderline Personality Disorder divisions.)

This was a post I found on Psychforums (in the ASPD forum).  I don’t know who wrote it, so I can’t give credit to the original source, only a link to where I found it.

In the post I found, the the term “psychopath” is used, but I think these types more properly describe people with ASPD, most who are sociopaths (an acquired condition due to trauma that may also involve brain dysfunction), not psychopaths (a condition of the brain you are born with that has nothing or little to do with early trauma).   There are also pro-social psychopaths (though all psychopaths lack a conscience), and none of these types seem very pro-social to me.  So even though many psychopaths may fit these subtypes, I think it’s misleading so I took out the term “psychopath” in the subheads.

Unprincipled 

Activities kept near or at the boundaries of the law; stereotyped social roles; con man, charlatan, fast-talking used car salesman.Expansive fantasies and exaggerated sense of self-importance.Willing to take advantage of and humiliate those who leave themselves open to deceit.

May cultivate persuasiveness or charm as a means of getting others to lower their guard, but sees all prosocial behaviour as ultimately self-serving.

Contemptuous of “the system”; working “the system” to avoid punishment seen as just “part of the game“.

Covetous 

Sees self as wrongfully deprived of life’s necessities, leading to envy and resentment.

Compensates by taking what he or she is entitled to as a means of revenging wrong and restoring “karmic balance” in life.

Sees self as a victim of external forces, misunderstood by others and by society.

Manipulates others as a meaning of proving own superiority, as well as avenging attributions of worthlessness.

Smug and contemptuous toward victims, who may be viewed as pawns in the larger game.

Prone to ostentatious displays of conspicuous consumption.

Risk-Taking 

Chronic underarousal leads to risk-taking as means of “feeling alive”.

Fails to realize the consequences of risk-taking; believes that social rules are unnecessarily confining of own sense of adventure.

Eschews normal desire for safety as evidence of cowardice.

Proves own mettle as a means of proving self-esteem and worthiness to self and others.

Disingenuous 

Superficial sociability (or even seductiveness) hides an impulsive, moody and resentful core.

Emotionally labile, prone to excitement-seeking, stimulus-dependant behaviour, lacking in forethought, with a high potential for painful consequences.

Rationalizes and projects blame onto others when attempts to solicit attention go awry.

Spineless

Aggression not intrinsically rewarding; psychopathic acts intended to others that the psychopath is not weak.

Has first-strike mentality; strikes whenever own fearfulness peaks (perhaps in episodes of panic), regardless of objective degree of threat.

Experiences fantasies of vulnerability; sees others as sadistic or exploiting.  [my note–I’m not sure what “fantasies of vulnerability” would refer to]

Abrasive 

Prefers to be overtly contentious, confrontational, antagonistic rather than indirectly manipulative.

Expects hostility from others, and pre-empts insults with own abrasiveness.

Prefers to escalate arguments; experiences pleasure by frustrating others, making them back down.

Inherently oppositional to any form of emotional control; seeks to break constraints simply because they exist.

Tyrannical 

Realizes pleasure through total control of others.

Employs violence instrumentally, to force perceived opponents to cower or submit.

Projects image of power or brutality; supports self-image of power and superiority by inflicting pain and suffering, if not power.

Explosive 

Low frustration threshold, resulting in episodes of uncontrollable rage and violent attack.

Episodes may be instantaneous reaction to frustration or perceived insult, and thus may be perceived by others as random and unprovoked.

Malevolent

Hateful, destructive defiance of values of social life.

inherently distrustful, ruthless, cold-blooded, revengeful, punitive.

Malignant 

Often isolated, paranoid, with ruminative fantasies of power and revenge.

Sees others as inherently persecutory or treacherous.

Uses hostility as a means of armoring self, forcin adversaries to take issue and withdraw.

http://www.psychforums.com/antisocial-personality/topic95961.html

Why we must start trying to help “Cluster B” people instead of stigmatizing them.

Guest Post: Descartes and the Killer Bees (by Anna Girolami)

rene_descartes

A reader named Anna Girolami (she has a blog called Good Red Herring) emailed me wondering if she could write a guest post for this blog.    I felt honored that she wanted to do this!  The post she wrote is definitely out-of-the-box and thought-provoking and has some intriguing ideas about handling people with various personality disorders, especially the Cluster B’s. I had to laugh at the reference to the “Killer Bees” (and will overlook the fact that technically, I’m included in this category, but since I’m recovering or maybe already recovered from BPD, maybe not).

I do want to add a disclaimer, however.   Anna’s thoughts about “managing a narcissist (or other disordered person)” are interesting, but I don’t think it would be wise in most situations, at least not for any length of time, and certainly not for any malignant narcissist or sociopathic personality.    No Contact, is of course, ALWAYS the best way to “manage” a narcissist, but there are situations where going NC may not be feasible.   In those cases, there is a technique known as “grey rocking,” which basically means being so mind-numbingly boring to the narcissist they go elsewhere and leave you alone.  Even that doesn’t always work, but I don’t think it’s really feasible to “manage” a disordered person without doing damage to yourself.  I think to try to manage a narcissist or another person with a personality disorder in this manner would prove extremely exhausting at best, and soul killing at worst.  Essentially, it means providing them with narcissistic supply!  So I don’t recommend it, but perhaps it’s something you can try if all else fails. It might work for the non-“Killer Bees” like the obsessive-compulsive or dependent PDs that Anna mentions; I’m not sure though, since I’m not as familiar with the Cluster C category of personality disorders.

That being said, I do see Anna’s logic here, and perhaps with a narcissist who isn’t very high on the spectrum or someone with a different personality disorder, this type of management might be an option.  Or, it might work in a pinch, when you can’t get away but you’re only with the disordered person for a short time, say at a party or a meeting.  It might work on a boss, too, if you really don’t want to leave your job and grey-rocking might seem too rude. (Never tell your Histrionic boss they’re sexy, though!)

Descartes and the Killer Bees.

By Anna Girolami

Blog: Good Red Herring

fish_logo

René Descartes is regarded by many as the father of modern western philosophy. For most of us, he boils down to a single, famous phrase:

Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

A lot of disordered people, however, operate on a variation of this theme. I’m talking about Cluster B people – the Killer Bees. They don’t think, they really don’t want to think. That’s the last thing they want to do. No, their being depends upon something else:

Videor, ergo sum (I am seen, therefore I am).

Equally important to them, is the flip side:

Non videor, ergo non sum (I am not seen, therefore I am not).

One of the hallmarks of disordered people is “splitting” – the simplistic belief that things are either completely wonderful or completely dreadful. Anything more ambivalent than that is just too difficult to deal with.

For our Killer Bees, this habit of splitting combines with the above dictum in a catastrophic way. They can admit only two possibilities – either the whole world is watching them and thus they are alive or no-one at all is watching them so, arrrrgh!, they cease to exist.

Given that very terrifying choice, which one would you go for? A Killer Bee has no real option but to cling desperately to the belief that every single person in the world is watching them for every second of the day. It’s either that or existential obliteration.

This belief requires that – consciously or not – they beat down any aptitude for empathy that they may have. Iris Murdoch (who was a philosopher before she was a novelist) nailed this when she said “Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.”

I take some issue with this as a definition of love. As a definition of empathy, however, it’s absolutely bang on.

The proper acknowledgement of other people’s autonomy and identity is a highly evolved function – one that many people seem unwilling to develop, on the very understandable grounds that it would deprive them of a great deal of secondary gain.

A Killer Bee cannot afford to acknowledge that anyone else is real. Even those – especially those – they ought to love the most. Other people are merely robots whose only function is to watch the Bee and thereby preserve them from extinction. Ideally, they should watch and approve. But even watching and disapproving is better than nothing.

What the watch-bots simply cannot be allowed, is any independent thought or action or intent of their own. That would mean they might stop watching the Bee for a while and then the Bee would cease to exist.

For a Killer Bee, it really is that simple – and that important.
Non videor, ergo non sum.

*****

If you’re married to or in some other way entangled with a Killer Bee, it is futile expecting them to notice you, support you or in any other way treat you as if you are real. They can’t do it. Not without professional help and not unless they want to. Very, very few want to – why should they give up this way of living that means lots of lovely attention and never having to think about anybody else?

So, what do you do? If your Killer Bee is of the mild-to-moderate variety, you have three choices:

1. Suck it up, suck it all up.
2. Ditch ’em.

Or..

3. you can manage them.

If you can’t/don’t want to ditch them, it seems obvious that your best option is to manage them. They’re quite primitive machines and, if they’re not too far gone, it is possible to manage them once you understand the clockwork. Oh sure, it makes you seethe, having to “manage” an adult, simply to stop them behaving like a three year old with low frustration tolerance. But it’s either that or suck it up, suck it all up.

Remember: videor, ergo sum.

Each variety of Killer Bee needs to be seen in a slightly different way.

–The Narcissist needs: “I see you, darling, you’re amaaaazing.”
–The extraverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re sooo sexy.”
–The introverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re so pretty but don’t get up, you’ll spoil the effect. Just you sit there and look perfect, I’ll do everything.” Or something like that.
–The Obsessive-Compulsive (OCPD, not OCD) needs: “I see you, darling, you’re trying so hard.”
–The Dependent or the Borderline needs: “I see you, darling, don’t worry. I’m here, I’m always here.”
(Yes, I know obsessives and dependents aren’t technically in the Cluster B group, but they often wander over into their territory.)

If you don’t know exactly which type you’ve got, just go with “I see you, darling, you’re wonderful.” That will keep most of ‘em happy, it’s the seeing that really matters. When Killer Bees are happy, they can actually play quite nicely.

This sounds easy enough but here’s the thing – you have to do it all the time. Every waking second of their day, or near enough. Once a week simply doesn’t cut it.

Remember: non videor ergo non sum.

They genuinely feel that if they are not sufficiently seen, then they don’t exist. When that happens, anxiety quickly overwhelms them. The narcissist will rage and belittle you, the histrionic will weep, the obsessive will sulk. Whatever.

It’s exhausting (and maddening) to have to supply this amount of constant watching with, inevitably, no reciprocation. It is, however, less exhausting than the tantrums. It may help if you realise that it doesn’t always have to be you who does the watching. They’re not fussy, these people. No one is real to them. One watch-bot is as good as any other.

So if you can do it reasonably, consider offloading some of the watching duties onto others (although not onto your children, that’s absolutely not supposed to happen. It’s a tragedy that it so often does). My own particular Killer Bee, an Obsessive with a heavy histrionic topcoat, is good at running, so I encourage him to enter as many races as he can. When he does well (which is usually. He’s an obsessive, after all), he gets a big chunk of lovely watching and approval from a whole host of other people – and I get a bit of time off. Its almost win-win.

Our holidays aren’t very restful though.

Have a great week,
Anna

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

PPD, though more common than NPD,  is often ignored or overlooked and I think can be (and often is) mistaken for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).   The symptoms are remarkably similar and resemble the way a narcissist acts when in defense or attack mode. These are not very nice people. Someone with PPD acts like narcissist who is perpetually suffering narcissistic injury (must be fun!).   They are combative, controlling, envious/jealous, unforgiving, and quick to project blame onto others.  Also like narcissists, they are unlikely to think they have a problem so they rarely try to get help.

I wonder if PPD should actually be classified as a Cluster B personality disorder, since it involves a weak sense of self, hypersensitivity to real or imagined slights, and resultant abusiveness toward others and lack of insight/inability to accept blame.  Other then a tendency to avoid social interaction, PPD doesn’t seem that much like the “odd/eccentric” (Cluster A) disorder it is currently classified as (it’s in the same subcategory with Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders, neither of which bear much resemblance to PPD).

I’ve known people who I thought were narcissists and who were definitely abusive, but their behavior actually more closely resembles PPD than NPD.

One thing that’s unique about people with PPD is that they are more likely than others to have a parent with schizophrenia.

PPD2

Source:

http://www.mentalhealth.com/home/dx/paranoidpersonality.html

 

 

What sign is your personality disorder?

Since this old post is currently going viral and is more for fun than anything else (and this blog could use a little lightness right now), I figured I’d throw this up here again. Enjoy!

Comments on the original post are expired, but you can leave comments here.

Lucky Otters Haven

astrology

This post is strictly for fun. It’s not meant to belittle personality disorders or the people who have them, nor do I believe in astrology. The idea came from a funny conversation I was having on Facebook today.

Cluster A Personality Disorders (anxious)

1. Avoidant: Cancer
(fearful of rejection, sensitive, homebody, shy, cautious)

2. Dependent: Pisces
(wants to be taken care of, clingy, passive, codependent)

3. Obsessive-compulsive: Virgo/Taurus
(clean/neat freak, obsessed with order and predictability; cautious and stubborn)

Cluster B Personality Disorders (dramatic, emotional)

1. Borderline: Libra
(wild mood swings, romantic fantasies, changes mind, can’t make decisions, can’t take sides)

2. Narcissistic: Scorpio/Aries
(vindictive when injured, easily offended; arrogant and entitled, infantile)

3. Histrionic: Leo
(full of themselves, dramatic displays of shallow emotion, vain, grandiose)

4. Antisocial: Gemini
(two faced, fast talkers, glib, deceitful, manipulative)

Cluster C Personality Disorders (odd or eccentric)

1. Schizoid: Capricorn
(asocial, reclusive, rigid, serious)

2…

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The “Four F’s” of C-PTSD

child-abuse1

I just began reading “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving” by Pete Walker. I can already tell I won’t be able to put it down (I will write a book review when I’m finished, which shouldn’t take long). I’m also going to bring this book to my next therapy session because I want my therapist to see it.

Walker, who is a therapist and also a survivor of narcissistic abuse and sufferer of C-PTSD, is an engaging writer and definitely knows his subject matter. In one of the first chapters, he discusses the “Four F’s”–which are four different “styles” of coping that people with C-PTSD develop to cope with their abusive caregivers and avoid the abandonment depression. Whatever style one adopts may be based on several factors–natural temperament, the role in the family the child was given (scapegoat, golden child, “lost” or ignored child), birth order, and other factors.

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Available on Amazon

The Four F’s are:

1. Fight (the narcissistic defense): often “golden children,” such children learn to project shame onto others; may go on to develop NPD
2. Flight (the obsessive-compulsive/anxiety defense): these children will grow up to become highly anxious, obsessive-compulsive, and avoidant.
3. Freeze (the dissociative defense): these children “protect” themselves by dissociating from others, themselves, and their environment.
4. Fawn (the codependent defense): the child learns to avoid harm by people-pleasing or siding with their abusers.

Walker speculates that if C-PTSD were recognized in the psychiatric literature, the DSM could probably be reduced to the size of a pamphlet, for many people diagnosed with other disorders actually have C-PTSD, which encompasses symptoms of many other disorders and have common roots.

What you may have been misdiagnosed with (or diagnosed yourself with) if you have C-PTSD (these are the most common):

Personality Disorders:
Borderline Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Dissociative disorders

Anxiety Disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Social Anxiety
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Mood Disorders:
Depression
Bipolar Disorder

Developmental Disorders:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
ADHD
ADD

Codependency

Addictive Disorders

While any or all of these diagnoses can be co-morbid with C-PTSD, they miss the mark or don’t tell the whole story. Personality disorders such as BPD can develop from severe, unrelieved C-PTSD and they do share many similarities, but personality disorder labels are stigmatizing and not very helpful for someone who has suffered prolonged childhood trauma and abuse. Labels like “panic disorder” or “depression” aren’t helpful because they only address one or two symptoms of C-PTSD and therefore can’t even begin to address the roots of the depression or anxiety. You can treat anxiety or depression with drugs or short term therapy, but you can’t cure the person of the C-PTSD that’s causing their chronic anxiety or depression. The same goes for labels such as alcoholism or codependency. These are merely symptoms. People with C-PTSD are also sometimes erroneously diagnosed with developmental disorders such as ADHD or autism, which not only don’t address the trauma that led to the ADHD- or Aspergers-like behaviors, but also have completely different causes.

Empathy begins at home.

happy_childhood

I know that for a very long time I’ve had issues empathizing with others on a one to one basis (with a few rare exceptions like my children). It’s not that I like seeing others in pain or want to hurt them (I don’t, at all), more that I have had so much trouble connecting to my emotions, especially tender or vulnerable feelings, that this avoidance extends to everyone else. I’ve always felt empathy when it’s “safe” though–therefore I can cry for a character in a movie or novel, or even a TV commercial. I can get quite upset reading a news story about someone who’s been abused, especially if it’s an animal or a child.

But when it comes to real life people, I just can’t allow myself to get that close. I hold everyone at arm’s length. It’s too dangerous to let them in, because they might stir up emotions I haven’t wanted to feel. Of course this means emotional (as opposed to cognitive) empathy goes out the window too. You can’t feel an emotion for someone else if you can’t even access it for yourself.

It’s a common belief that all people who lack empathy are narcissists or psychopaths (or have some kind of schizoid disorder or psychosis, or autism). But a lack of empathy is also a common symptom in people with complex PTSD. Shutting off emotions–including empathy–is a defense mechanism that protects you from further harm. The problem is, this protection also “protects” you from feeling much joy or being able to really love anyone else.

Recently I’ve been feeling a kind of tender regard for my child-self/true self. Right now she’s not integrated and feels far away sometimes, but I can feel her sadness and pain. I can also feel that she’s a good person, a gentle sensitive spirit with so much love to give. I feel a tender protectiveness now where before I felt only shame and wanted to hide her away, just as she had been hidden away by the narcissists who “raised” her. So how was I any different from them, by keeping her hidden, projecting badness and shame onto her, refusing to see her strengths? Sometimes I just want to hold her like my own child. It’s not self-pity; it’s closer to empathy and even love.

Is this where empathy begins? Does it begin with loving yourself–your true self? If you hate your real self, you cannot learn to expand empathy onto others, since you can’t even empathize with yourself. If all you feel is shame, that is going to be projected onto others. That would apply to narcissists and the personality-disordered as well as people suffering from C-PTSD.   The problem for the disordered is it may be too late for some of them.  They are so thoroughly shielded by a false self they cannot even access their real selves or only with a great deal of difficulty that could take years.  There are much stronger defenses to break through.  They may be so shut off they can’t even see the lie they are living and think it’s everyone else–not them–with the problem.

The root of attachment and trauma disorders is is rejection of the self internalized from the people who were supposed to love you and mirror you; to heal, you must be able to develop empathy for your true self. That’s what my therapist has been helping me do.

Personality Disorders: The clusters A, B & C

This deserved to be reblogged.

Almost 10% of the United States population is personality disordered, with Cluster B being the rarest  (which surprised me).

It looks like Histrionic (Cluster B), Schizoid and Paranoid (Cluster A) and Dependent (Cluster C) are all slated to possibly be removed from the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).   That would leave only 6 personality disorders.  I don’t think that’s enough.  Schizoid Personality Disorder in particular doesn’t seem like it could be merged with anything else.  Perhaps they’re planning on adding  replacement categories.

Personality disordered dogs?

aggressive_dog

While there aren’t official psychiatric diagnoses for dogs, I think dogs (and other pet animals) can and do develop psychiatric conditions, including the canine equivalent of the personality disorders. As in humans, “personality disorders” in dogs develop when a dog has been abused or neglected, usually in puppyhood. Neglecting a dog is just as bad as abusing it, because they are social creatures who need “mirroring” from their humans and regular social interaction. Without these things, a dog can become aggressive, aloof, or learn to fear everything and everyone. Since disturbed dogs do not make good pets, they are usually euthanized.

Because dogs and other pets aren’t capable of higher level reasoning, there’s no doggie equivalent of a “false self,” gaslighting, triangulation, or splitting, but we do find manipulative, attention-seeking, unpleasant behaviors.

Here’s an article about the behavioral problems dogs can develop. Next to each item, I’ve named the personality disorder that would be the human equivalent for that behavior.

http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis1/PD%20In%20Dogs%20And%20Humans.htm

fearful_dog

Problem dogs usually exhibit difficulties with:

Selfishness and Aggressiveness: Some dogs aggressively guard their food and possessions, and bite any dog or human foolish enough to challenge them. Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Impulsiveness: Some dogs are very impulsive. They impulsively run off chasing after something at the slightest provocation. Often this behavior either gets them lost or run over by a car. Antisocial or Borderline Personality Disorder

Dominance: Some dogs are very dominant and literally control their submissive owners. You will see these dogs pulling their owners around on a leash, or involved in some other power struggle with their owner. Antisocial or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Fear or Wariness: Some dogs are very fearful and wary of strangers. Some fearful, shy dogs eventually learn to trust their owner. However, other fearful dogs never learn to trust their owner and remain wary, aloof and distant. Schizoid, Avoidant, or Dependent Personality Disorder

Separation Anxiety: Some dogs become hysterical when their owner leaves them. They howl or tear up furniture in a fearful rage. Some dogs bloody themselves trying to paw through walls or smash through glass doors trying to reunite with their owners. Borderline Personality Disorder

Attention-Seeking: Some dogs constantly demand attention from their owner. Yet the more attention the owner gives these dogs, the more excited and attention-seeking they become. The end result is that these demanding dogs are always jumping up on their owners or otherwise pestering their owner for more attention. Borderline, Histrionic, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Lack Of Affection: Owners want an affectionate dog that loves them. Unfortunately, some dogs never warm up to their owner and remain aloof and cold. In addition, other dogs never learn to trust their owner, and remain suspicious and isolated. Paranoid, Schizoid or Avoidant Personality Disorder

Read more about animal psychological disorders:
http://mom.me/pets/19054-animal-psychological-disorders/