Disturbed & Neurotic Behavior

In most unhealthy relationships, at least one of the persons is likely to have a significant disturbance of character. Relationships can be particularly unhealthy if one person is significantly character disturbed and the other is overly neurotic. The primary defining qualities of the disturbed character are a deficient, immature, or absent conscience, ego inflation, problematic attitudes and thinking patterns, and irresponsible behavior patterns. When a neurotic individual hooks up with a disturbed character, they often try to be the conscience for both parties. When the disturbed character defaults on yet another debt, the neurotic floats another loan. When the disturbed character cheats again and blames the neurotic’s lack of attention, the neurotic tries harder to please. The neurotic may feel in his or her heart that the blame lies with the disordered character, but the disturbed character manipulates the neurotic into believing that everything is his or her fault. The disturbed character in such a relationship never has to develop any kind of conscience, because the neurotic frequently exercises conscience enough for both of them.

Relationships between disturbed characters and neurotics stay unhealthy because the neurotic doesn’t learn to assert him or herself and the disturbed character has no reason to modify his or her patterns of manipulation, exploitation, and abuse. If the attempt to secure professional help is successful but the therapist is not trained to accurately diagnose character disturbance or skilled in the radically different methods of dealing with it, the likely fruitlessness of the encounter can lead the neurotic partner to believe that there is no choice but to maintain the status quo.

9 thoughts on “Disturbed & Neurotic Behavior

  1. Sure. Neurotics are people who are very sensitive, have well-developed consciences, and experience relatively high levels of anxiety. In the sixties, we used to say these folks were “hung-up” (i.e. worried too much about life). In days past, some of these folks were so neurotic that they literally made themselves sick with worry. Most of the traditional theories of psychology came from studying such individuals. Neurotics are still with us, but very few are so overly conscientious that they make themselves sick. Rather, they’re the backbone of society because they care enough to try and make everything work. I talk at length about this in my book. I’ll be writing a lot more about it in my upcoming book.

  2. This unfortunately describes my brother and his wife. They were going to conseling but I’m pretty sure the therapist was a victim of manipulation. It is such a sad situation and feels as though nothing can be done to help.
    Any advice?

    1. There are several other articles on the site here that discuss therapy issues (see, for example “Therapy and the Face of Real Change” parts 1 and 2), and in my book Character Disturbance, I lay out the paradigm for dealing with this type of behavior effectively.

  3. I think I am in this relationship and it seems I fall into the category of the neurotic one. But I’ve always thought he displayed signs of neuroticism. How do I manage this so that it is resolved? Mind you, he is not one to sit still and “talk” or “reflect”. If any issue is brought up, he will find a way to justify it or argue that it is my fault – and the moment it comes out of his mouth, he believes it and nothing I can say or do will change that.

    1. Welcome to the club, T.
      It seems you have been targeted by a professional blamer, who is a firm believer that being winner of the day (i.e. him blameless, and you full of blame) justifies any means used during the day (minimization, exaggeration, lying, covert threats, rage display, etc), without any regard to long-term consequences.
      Do read other blogs to get more insights.

  4. One thing I noticed when I joined a church where the Disturbed character attended, was that the women’s bible studies, sermons, etc really focused on giving you more of a conscience and made me feel very neurotic. This led to a lot of boundary crashes and him getting away with more tactics. The emphasis at church is forgiveness and forgiveness (without changed behavior), explaining away another’s behavior (sin leveling) The promise of a godly relationship (magical thinking) kept the quarter in the machine going when if I had not joined the church I know I would have broken it off. The church is very ignorant of character disturbance and will enable them over and over. I wouldn’t think a divine God would approve of this since He knows all. Can you speak to this? Because I don’t have much of a thread of faith left and we had attended your average non denom churches (nothing “out there”

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