When a Character Disturbance Becomes a Disorder
Character disorders have become more prevalent in our times. Unfortunately, modern culture enables, promotes, and even reinforces character disturbance. And, as mentioned many times before, character disturbance is a spectrum phenomenon. That is, the degree to which someone is purely character-impaired versus “neurotic” varies. We define neurosis as the conflict that rages between primal urges and qualms of conscience. Therefore, we define character disturbance as the relative absence of neurosis. The degree to which someone’s character disturbance rises to the level of a “disorder” also varies.
We all have a distinctive way of seeing things and doing things. And we have a unique “style” of relating to others. That’s what defines our personality. But sometimes a person’s style of relating is in itself problematic. And for many years, we’ve defined a personality or character disorder a certain way. We’ve seen it as a style of coping so extreme, so inflexible, or so deviant from the norm that it impairs functioning and causes distress. But in our day and time, this definition appears to have outlived its usefulness.
Character Disturbance Impacts Relationships
Character Disorders always present problems for relationships. In fact, many now think it wiser to define character disorders by the way they negatively impact relationships. Character disorders impair intimacy, trust, growth, etc. within a relationship. The distinctive way a disturbed character views you and deals with you defines their pathology. Narcissists, for example, may see you as a desirable object to possess because of how it makes them look. But that makes it hard for them to relate to you in a truly reverent way. And that makes true intimacy pretty impossible. It also makes abuse and exploitation more likely.
In the coming weeks I’ll be talking much more about character disturbance and relationships. And I invite the readers to share their experiences. Trying to relate in a fulfilling or intimate way with a character-disordered individual begets a lot of pain. But that pain can also instruct you about what to look for and insist upon in a relationship partner.
Character Matters airs live this coming Sunday evening at 7 pm EDT. Call in at 718-717-8296 to share, discuss issues, or ask a question.
An updated workshop schedule can be found on the Seminars page. And, as always, be sure to avail yourself of and tell others about the valuable information in my four books and many articles on this blog.