Character Disorders and Relationships

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.

Announcements

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.

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79 thoughts on “Character Disorders and Relationships

  1. Narcissists also are entitled. If they do’nt get this entitlement THIS GRACE AND FAVOUR.
    Sort of I TREAT YOU AS I CHOOSE and YOU TREAT ME AS I CHOOSE. They can and do get vengeful and vindictive.

    1. Yes, was just with a family member today who is narcissistic and seems to have no idea how her behavior effects others – but then again maybe she does and is just ok with it, if that is so that makes me mad, but she seems clueless.

      1. Kat,

        Of course they act clueless, if the CDN let on they knew their behavior was unacceptable, others might put pressure on them to change or at least behave.

        Also, remember the CDN is arrogant and truly believes they are right, if they know it is wrong and many do, they ultimately convince themselves it is right, therefore, the CDN believe a lie, their own lies.

        1. BTOV,
          Hi and thanks for that insight. If they believe their own lies, and I would say this person doesn’t as much fabricate but rather exaggerates mainly, then they deceive themselves and may be blind to their actions and how they effect others. She is arrogant and believes she is right. She shows a lot of resistance to change and is responsibility avoidant in that nothing is her fault but is the fault of others. Overall she is what I have heard described as an “energy vampire” in that she sucks the life out of you with her constant negativity. She is miserable. One would wonder what secondary benefits she could be receiving that would be worth it, and the only thing that comes to mind for me is that she doesn’t have to make an effort to change, and she can continue believing she is right – but to me that trade-off just wouldn’t be worth it.

          1. She doesn’t as much fabricate, do you mean she doesn’t much lie? She rather much exaggerates or may I ask does she embellish things. My question is whats the difference, in all instances she is lying. No matter if you exaggerate, it still is lying, its not the truth. Embellishing is a form of lying. A lie is a lie is a lie, no getting round it it is a lie.

            OK, she is an energy vampire, she sucks all your positive energy and strength from you, leaves you with all her toxicity and throws you in the heap with the rest of her discards and goes on to her next victim.

            Why would they want to change when they can dump all their toxic spew on you. No responsibility, they can always find another person to feel sorry for them and pick up the slack.

            They are miserable creatures and get a sense of control and strength have pulled the wool over your eyes and lured you into her web and sucked you dry.

            “Jokes on you Sucker.” Full of glee and self righteousness they brought you down. The trade-off to you wouldn’t be right, why ?
            Because you don’t have the self-centered perverted thinking the CDNSP have. The CDN are some sick twisted puppies, I need to be careful here, many are rabid.

          2. “but to me that trade-off just wouldn’t be worth it”

            That is what you think. Not everyone thinks like you. 🙂

          3. Kat they will just continue to lie. It doesn’t really matter at this point if they believe their own lies or they are just lying period. If a person can’t tell the truth what’s the point in engaging them. You can do your own head in by trying – expending your energy on them by doing to is futile, or you can walk away from them. My preference is the latter. If a person lies to me now, I won’t bother with them again. There is no point in hoping to achieve a breakthrough with a liar hoping they will see the truth because they don’t or wont or ever admit truth even if they do know it. They just lie.

        2. Andy D, that’s true, we all don’t think alike.
          BTOV, I am trying to hear what you are saying, but I can’t wrap my head around her purposely feeling some kind of satisfaction about draining me. It seems to me she is unaware of her toxic behavior. But you are giving me another perspective. I am starting to read the CD book, I ordered the In Sheeps Clothing but it hasn’t arrived yet. I am really trying to understand this because one runs across these people in life and I need to identify them. The reason I go around her is because she is my sister and I feel obligated and at first I thought I could “help” her by pointing out some behaviors in the belief that insight would help her but she was resistant and would not acknowledge the behavior. I took it as she was blind to it, as we all are to some of our behaviors. But the other perspective is that they are aware and are just not willing to do the work and change, or they are not willing to change their behavior because they see no reason to. I don’t know why this is bouncing off my head. I have to let it sink in I think.

        3. BTOV and others, Iam thinking about confronting her and telling her I can’t be around her like this, and then tell her the constant barrage of negativity is too much. But her negativity is from her negative thoughts, she only thinks of the negative side of things, never the whole picture and her words can’t help but come out negative because her thoughts are negative. But here is what I am concerned about, I do not believe she is willing to change and I don’t want to hurt her and tell her that if there is no willingness to change on her part. In order for her to change that would mean lots of counseling and a sincere heart. I don’t want to hurt her without a possibility that it would bring about change. Then again I could just let it go and cut ties but she will want to know why. Has anyone been in this situation with a family member and what did you do?

          1. kat,

            Instead of confronting one fine day about past events, better may be to confront right after she does something wrong. Very likely she will try to wriggle herself out by using all sorts of tactics. But, you can just the focus on wrong behavior, a sort of “you did ABC and that is wrong”. It is bit harder to twist something that happened moment ago.

            “Then again I could just let it go and cut ties but she will want to know why.”
            I doubt if she will want to know “why”. What does she gain by doing that? Sympathy? I think she will probably just add another entry to her long ever-growing list of things wrongfully done to a righteous person.

            You should prioritize yourself higher. What do you want? And do not let her mess with that. Try to pick something that you can control, e.g. “I want my evening to be free” vs “I want you to be free in evening for me”.

          2. Andy D, thank you. You bring up a good point with the wriggling out of her behavior. I know I can’t continue with this, its too much. I don’t want high blood pressure or a heart attack from the stress.

      2. Kay
        She probably is clueless about the grief she cause because she does not care about others and how they are affected.

  2. I feel truly sad for the children raised by sociopaths. It must be so confusing for the child. I was married to a sociopath-didn’t realize he was one while I was married to him, just thought he was a liar, disloyal, etc. and in general a horrible person,but our children had me and most of the time it was me raising them but the one grown child now has sociopathic behavior despite my influence. Her child is very fearful and anxious. I fear the cycle will repeat in the child. This grieves me no end.

    1. Kat,

      I have family members like you describe. Do you mind my asking how old your sister is? I will answer in regards to this.

        1. Kat,

          Most CDN begins in ones early years, the creation of a false self. By this time in life and depending on how intelligent, subtle and wily she has honed and developed her manipulation skills, she will only get worse.

          Once she understands you are not naive and have got her number the odd are she will plot against you. These people never change and when they have flying monkeys to do their dirty work the CDN can cause more damage.

          If she is your only sibling you can have some control over boundaries and how she treats you. The CDN usually don’t want to lose there only source. You may love your sister and have genuine feelings for her but her are not sincere.

          I am 62 and in my life I don’t have the energy, but more importantly time to waste on a sick individuals who will never change. As sad and difficult it may sound the best thing for you is to just slowly cut her out to the point of NC. I did this with mine and it went very smoothly.

          There are to many good people, single and alone who are more than glad to welcome a well rounded good person into their lives. My opinion comes from having been there. Andy gave you some good pointers too.

          1. BTOV, I agree, I do think I have no choice but to cut her out. Funny, she was like this from a very young age. She seemed to be jealous of all her siblings from this young age and nobody could figure out why. None of her siblings want much to do with her because of her attitude, which is why I felt sympathy for her because she is all alone. I didn’t sleep half the night over this. I talked to a Godly friend at church today and explained the situation and she advised NC as well, and to not accept the guilt I may have over doing that, I know I will struggle with that but ultimately she is responsible for herself and her behavior. I will continue to pray for her and hope that God can change her, that would be a miracle. Its very sad to me to see individuals no matter who they are, to live such a miserable existence, whether they know it or not. Its so easy to be negative, and takes training yourself to see the good side of things and to be grateful, so its a conscious effort for all of us I believe, and these negative thinking patterns can be so ingrained I wonder if the person even realizes how miserable they are, they are so accustomed to how they feel – like the boiling frog in the pot that gets used to the water slowly til they are cooked. Thanks for the input and encouragement to seek out good people.

          2. Kat,

            They do realize how miserable and hateful they are, the CD are very aware. Their Pride, false Pride is what will destroy them and they are more than happy to take anyone they can with them.

            On the otherhand, you have love and patience, kindness, empathy and humility. She would tear you down faster than you can blink and you still pray for her. You have your answer, you see the difference.

            Never stop praying for her, I never stop praying for the CD in my life either. I DO NOT have contact with them, they are to toxic. I do forgive them and this sets me free from carrying all that ugly stufff around like they do. However, Never forget what they are capable of and will do.

            It will take time, read everything you can get your hands on, the archives of this blog are full of stories like ours, ask questions, post your feelings, whatever, you need to set you free from feeling you haven’t done enough. Many times I have my doubts and false hopes and that is all they are. Only God can change a hardened heart when it has come to this point. I have only seem the CD dig there heels in deeper.

            You can’t change anyone, only yourself. It took me a long time to get to my place of understanding. Keep at it, eventually, you will trust your gut instincts. The guilt will begin to fade when you are away from the toxic person for your eyes to open and know the truth.

            Kat, I encourage you to keep posting and working through what you dont understand, eventually you will understand.

            Take care and blessings

          3. Kat,

            “ultimately she is responsible for herself and her behavior”
            You can make a large poster of that and hang in few rooms in your house.

            That frog in boiling water is a good analogy. But, usually it is applied to victims… may be you are frog… just figuring out that water is too hot. 🙂

          4. BTOV, thank you, I learn from your posts and Andy’s. I do have much to learn about CD’s and it takes time – I work full time so will be a bit slower process. By the grace of God I have forgiven my ex CD husband, glad not to carry the baggage around, bitterness is a cancer. I got to see what happened to my ex – he died in hospice last month and even his live in “fiancé” of nearly six years just abandoned his dead body in hospice and took off, didn’t tell anyone, just disappeared. Me and my daughter paid the cost, nobody else stepped up to help pay, not even his family. Nobody cared, not his family, not his children. Pretty sad. Again, thank you for your encouragement, I am sorry you have the CD’s, one can never have a relationship with them and that’s such a shame but its their choice. I am sure I will have questions in this process and its good to know others have gone thru it and have knowledge to share. Blessing to you also.

        2. kat,
          She is in late sixties. Treat it as she is well set in her ways.
          She is getting worse. Treat it as now her facade is cracking at the seam and ugly stuff that was long hidden is finally coming out.

          You should protect your boundaries and do not let her cross them ever.

          1. Thanks for your input Andy, I am just starting a class on Boundaries using a book I think BTOV suggested, its at a church near me. As a child she was always really mean to her siblings and jealous. Its odd how this is from an early age. Its almost as if its genetic, but maybe something happened before that, that was traumatic for her. I sense she is in a very dark place and its depressing.

          2. kat,
            Sometime people make a bad choice, and cover it up with a lie. And that starts the slow descent for the rest of the life. It is hard to catch the lie at the moment, especially if one still has the trust of the other. So, even the parents with best of intention cannot help, till the damage has been done. And, many normal people just do not have skills to handle that kind of child or project. Genetics may also play a role. A child’s temperament can probably be judged within few weeks.

          3. AndyD,

            Well said and absolutely true. I have been that frog and got out just in the nick of time. Interestingly, looking back I have been that frog, many times, having just enough strength to leap out at the last moment.

            Finally, I was enlightened about toxic people and read everything I could. Out of the fog, WOW, does life with these individuals take on a whole different light, you see the truth.

            Yes, with age the mask begins to crack and mangled, malformed infant comes out, so many diagnosed with dementia, makes one wonder. ??????????

          4. I have a sister who is CD. She was always difficult growing up and I have had limited contact with her as an adult as we were never close despite being 1 year apart in age. I’ve always felt deep resentment from her and her eyes convey rage that’s palpable towards me from across a crowded room. I’ve had the misfortune to have increased contact with her recently and the covert manipulation and gas lighting I experienced was deeply shocking. I will not be going back for seconds and have gone no contact.
            I can confirm that these people get a lot worse with age. She has a dark soul and is deeply disturbed. Years of practise have honed her performance and she is now a master manipulator.
            Emotionally healthy people experience spiritual growth and expansion through humility. A CD person is permanently stuck in a stagnant pool going nowhere and it becomes increasingly toxic over time. They end up living in a cesspit of their own making.
            I have only recently been able to join all the dots together. I would have said she was borderline as a young adult but has matured into a sociopath. However she definitely knows right from wrong and is not antisocial.
            I’m so pleased to have found this site. It’s refreshing to hear the theory that they all know what they are doing rather than buy into the theory that they are emotionally traumatised and their actions are maladaptive subconcious coping strategies. I was feeling sorry for her and getting caught up in her pain. Now I know she’s just a BITCH 🙂

  3. I have read Martha Stouts the Sociopath Next Door. In it she has 13 Rules for Dealing with Sociopaths. These rules I think are just as good for dealing with any Character Disordered Person in a Relationship.

  4. My character disordered ex husband has been awarded equal placement of our 2 small children, now 3 and 5. The 5 year old is starting to catch on and ask questions and make comments: why is papa so mean? Why is he nice and then mean and then nice and then mean? Papa is trying to trick me into saying I love him more than I love you ( this was after weeks of him directly telling me, “I don’t know why mama, but I love papa so much more than I love you.” ) He also told me that papa is not mean to his younger sister, only to him, so we don’t need to tell her that he’s mean. It seem he’s chosen my son to be the one he abuses. And that he wants to protect his sister.
    People I’ve talked to who have also had to try coparenting with someone like this tell me the children will figure out what he’s like. And they’ll eventually make a choice. But while we are going through this I need to try to undo some of the damages week after week. I need to know how to guide and encourage the children. How to teach them the skills they need to survive (or hopefully thrive) despite the abusive environment in which they are being raised half the time. I myself was raised in a questionable environment and I’m needing to up my game. The children and I have love authenticity trust humor and emotional intelligence on our side.
    I appreciate some of the advice I’m able to find on this site and others for how to keep boundaries and interact with someone like this in the most effective way. but these seem to focus on adult relationships. My children cannot set the same kind of boundaries. We need help. I would like to know from Dr Simon or anyone else what skills I can teach my children to ensure they do not develop this same disorder and that they can navigate childhood in the most effective way. What resources are available?

    1. susie,

      I really feel for you, I will try to find some reading material on this. Important though is the fact you have been giving them positive nurturing. This is very difficult for the fact child role model their parents. Given their natural traits which I think you will find revealing as you go along , you will have more of an idea of how to deal with each child.

      It is difficult to have control over what happens when your children are with your X. Given the CDN history they usually choose a child they find more appealing and use the other as the scapegoat. Unless you can prove child neglect of some sort I think you may be stuck with the arrangement. You can pray your X finds another girlfriend, a new source that takes up all his time and then doesn’t want anything to do with the children.

      All you can do with your children is teach them moral integrity, character, the golden rule of do unto others as you would have done to you. Always be a good role model. Teach them the The ten commandments and if you have a christian back round take them to church and Sunday school. This will give the children a back round in the right way to act and the proper way to treat each other. Just one of many ideas out there and hope others
      chime in.

      I hope you keep posting and I would love for Dr. Simon to do a topic on how to bring up children in a toxic relationship.

    2. At the core of Narcissism is Envy. A form of HATE that the narcissist excells. Your son is probably the one he envys and therefore is the one being mis-treated.
      Narcissism in part is caused by OVER VALUING OF A CHILD. Always praise the effort undertaken and never the result.
      Look up Dr Brad Bushman When Narcissus Was a Boy on youtube

    3. Susie,
      I am sorry to hear the ex has equal placement. Pretty much the same thing happened in my relationship with the CD, he favored our daughter and verbally abused our son. He worked on my daughter to brainwash her to his way of thinking. Fortunately he was a drug addict and didn’t want any of the responsibility for them so when I left with my two kids I don’t think he actually cared, he was onto the next thing. I hope he loses interest and then you can do without him. Or maybe he will slip up and his custody can be taken away. This is a hard situation and its really good that you are aware of what is going on. I agree with what has been suggested about getting them involved with a church if you are open to that. They are going to see two different dynamics going on with you and him and they need to be able to see clearly which is the best and right way. Its going to be confusing for them unless they are immersed in what is good, I feel for you, that’s a tuff go and I would make sure I had plenty of moral support.

  5. Thank you Dr. Simon for all your hard work and insights. I’m so grateful for the freedom that I have received through the Lord and I’m also very grateful for your God honoring guidance and wonderful books.

  6. Hi!

    Just dropped in to say that…Hi to everybody and describe my own sibling situation. I am just back from Alaska after visiting one of my brothers who moved as far away as he could from his ex. I was firmly convinced he was pathological, while he was with his wife, but can see his problems were made much worse by relationship stress.

    His former wife is a histrionic comorbid narcissist — leans more towards histrionic. You can’t have a normal family life or even a normal extended family life when you are married to a drama queen. This woman caused or aggravated problems in our nuclear family, so she could feed off the emotion, and then play ‘rescue hero therapist.’ Her callousness was beyond belief. Zero sensitivities. No filtering mechanisms. HAD to be the center of attention — not liked to be, HAD to be.

    What confused me for years was trying to figure out what her problem was and also, how much of her behavior was intentional.

    After lots of study and pondering, I came up with this….She isn’t devious, not a liar, not ‘mean’ and not particularly envious — so not narcissistic, on that score. But…she is highly aggressive, highly competitive, oppositional and argumentative.

    She likes to twist emotiomally neutral conversations into something controversial and then start an argument about it. She did this if the topic drifted away from her. When she was called on it, by my brother, (frequently) she denied she had a problem and deflected blame back on him. The purpose of this way of socially relating to people was to whip up drama and keep the spotlight on her. A two for one.

    I have never encountered anybody like her before — so completely uninhibited and unembarrassed when she was called on this, too.

    And oh yeah. VERY sexually inappropriate. Grosse lewd comments, hands all over men, in conversation. Very focussed on sex all of the time.

    I have my brother back. We both have our own individual problems. I can tell he is working on his and I am working on mine.

    So, that’s where I am at. She’s GONE! Too bad that she can’t ditch the impossible personality traits and build on the positive parts of her nature more. It’s a shame. But she can’t/won’t. Too deeply ingrained.

    1. LisaO,

      Glad to see your still posting. Is this the brother you have talked about in the past? I find your analysis interesting. I am going to copy your post and have one of my Dr. friends read it and see what he says with the info you provided. Very interesting. She does seem narcissistic to me with many other issues. But then being histrionic could cause one to thing she might be a N.

      Glad to here you had a nice trip and are doing well.

      ((((Hugs and blessings))))

  7. Hi Btov,

    So great to see that you’re still posting too! I’ve been very very busy for the last few months but always intended to come back.

    And yes, same brother. I found out ALOT about what he’s been going through for years, just before they split up. He’s no angel, for sure — but she was more problematic and drove a wedge between us, I figure.

    She lives in the moment and will say the first oppositional shocking rash thing that pops into her mind. And what pops into her head riles people up and pits them against each other. She is such an impulsive analytically retarded person, I can honestly say, it isn’t even devious, it’s reflexive. She likes fighting.

    The best way of describing it is being with somebody who is really drunk all the time when it comes to how they relate to people. She does and says things that most people would only say or do if they were on one heck of a bender. And like a drunk, she becomes belligerent if confronted.

    She is far too vague and unscripted to be a purely malignant narcissist–thank God. But can you imagine my brother being with someone who wanted to fight all the time, just for fun?

    Yep.. Histrionics aren’t fun…once you get to know them. Before that they can be the life of the party.

    1. LisaO,

      Many victims of a NCD can come across as histrionic when they are in such a panic and distraught state from dealing with the CD. I still think your XSIL has N traits, perhaps not full blown but all the same. It would be interesting to see her in action and hear a conversation, that would be the clincher.

      Your brother probably reacted in a state of mind that kept the relationship together. That is why we are labeled enablers which I feel is an unfair assertion. Anyway, glad to here you have your bro back, maybe you will be key to him taking back his life and working towards the character development Dr. Simon’s Series has been about. Also, to become our authentic self which I am sure was suppressed by the X.

      Happy to have you back and posting, you always seem to have that other analytical view point that is part of rubric cube.

      (((Hugs)))

      1. Hi again, Btov– She definitely has N traits. She is Histrionic comorbid Narcissistic. She is highly competitive and is driven to win, win, win. You are absolutely right. She just lacks some features of N and her flamboyant, attention seeking theatrics are Histrionic. Just think the maudlin, contrasting with feisty weirdness of an attention seeking drunk– without the alcohol. Annoying much? Yep!

    2. Lisa – I knew a histrionic she’s calmed down a lot these days due to a great tragedy in her life. She underwent a good deal of therapy. But she would do things very similar to the extent she upended a table in a restaurant one evening to get attention. She was loud, attention demanding and would make broad sweeping statements but offer little to back them up and of course would say highly inappropriate things no matter what the situation. She was not good with alcohol and was extremely embarrassing to be out in public with.

      Thank God she’s calmed down.

        1. No she’s not N but her sister is. The sister was gaslighting her for years, she did her head in as a result she thought she was the crazy one. I’ve known the entire family my whole life it’s her sister who is CD. It’s all coming out in the wash now. It’s funny what is being revealed when the time is ripe. The attention demanding I was referring to wasn’t malignant but she could become violent if she thought someone had done something wrong – she was definitely disturbed but not in a narcissistic way. She has too much empathy and used to go out of her way to help people. She was extremely co-dependant though and back then neurotic, but then again back then we all were. We were all a bunch of misfits growing up. Some of us made it and through life lessons learned, others well stayed the same and never actually grew up.

  8. I just want to add one thing really quickly. I think that all but the most severely character disordered, sadistic narcissists and psychopaths, aren’t primarily motivated by a desire to hurt. The pain they cause is a result of callous inattention to our feelings or a result of the anger they feel when we get in the way of something they want.

    Their self awareness probably varies considerably and their conscious intent to do harm would rest partly on that awareness.

    I would say that anybody who is very very jealous though, could easily become mean. What a spiritually impoverished state to be engulfed by for a life time.

    Kat, is your sister amenable to being approached about her problems with jealousy? If not, there is no dealing with her. She will remain hateful no matter what you do, how kind you are. I feel extreme jealousy is a situation where someone feels in the one down position, so kindness to them, from what they feel is a position of dominance, will only make it worse.

    You would have to do badly yourself, like contract cancer, lose all of your friends and become homeless for her to relate to you ‘properly.’ Of course, this is assuming jealousy is her root problem, in an otherwise so what normal personality. If she is a malignant narcissist, her jealousy would shift to contempt, if your life circumstances became worthy of sympathy.

    1. LisaO

      Well said, I would like to add to the last sentence of your post. When you are down and out and at your weakest, the malignant narcissist will come in for the kill, they are instinctive predators and the worst kind of bully you can imagine. They enjoy kicking you when you are down. They will show no mercy or the slightest bit of empathy for your misfortune.

      Beware in your appraisal that you are just dealing with some lesser narcissists, when least suspect it their fangs will be out. Be vary wary and approach with caution, when they know, you know, the games will begin, well beyond what you ever imagined.

      Kat take care and keep posting, with an open mind and not in a hurry to confront, you may learn who you are really dealing with. Proceed with caution. LisaO gave you sound advice.

  9. Btov,

    I read somewhere that histrionics have the higHest divorce rates of all The character disorders. I don’t know if this is true but I found it intriguing.

    And yes, bro and I are mending fences and both working on our own character defects and neuroses. I wish all of my sisters and brothers would do the same, but alas…the desire to change has to come from within.

    Btw, want to mention an interesting show I have been watching on Youtube called, “Evil Lives Here,” It’s a psychological autopsy, carried out by family members of their serial killer relatives, often post mortem. Most of them received the death penalty. There is another one called, “Most Evil,” that is also pretty fascinating.

    I think it would be great if Dr.Simon could host a program like that, angled a bit more towards character.

    1. Patrick,

      Thanks for posting the link. I believe Narcissistic personality is of epidemic proportions in this world. We need to put on our suits of armor. We need to educate and teach others about this toxic virus that seems to have no cure, except a come to Jesus moment. That being taking off the mask of PRIDE, false pride and to become Humble.

      Just my humble opinion.

    2. Patrick, so sad. These acts are increasing all over the globe. Regardless of the political or religious back story, people have to be character disordered and so callous to kill the innocent.

  10. LisaO, thanks for asking, I am just now learning about these manipulative characters, right now reading “in sheeps clothing”. I am still trying to define her, she seems passive-aggressive in many ways. I am about to confront her on her complaining. I will see what her reaction is. I call her a narcissist because she lies, and has very little empathy if any. She basically verbally abused her children and her X. She seems like she is still thinking like she is a teenager when it comes to men, flirting with them by elbowing them and such. I am going to ask her if it ever comes to mind how the complaining effects the person she is complaining to. She is manipulative in a passive way. Such as when we have gone to a museum she will never stand beside me to talk about what we are looking at, she has to look at something else because standing with me would be “kissing my butt” in her viewpoint. In fact she will never call me on the phone, only text because to call me would be “kissing my butt”. I don’t know, its confusing behavior and I am trying to get a handle on it, but what I can focus on is setting appropriate boundaries for inappropriate behavior. Shes been like this since she was a young child, stealing things from the us girls in the family, and being envious of others, my Mom says she should have been an only child.

  11. Kat,

    If I may suggest, perhaps, instead of confronting her, she may give you more of an answer if you formed your confronting in the context of a question. Play dumb, for example, ” I really don’t know what you mean by what you said, I know I might not be as quick as you and don’t catch on easily, could you explain to me your reasoning?” This way you are stroking her ego, at the same time taking a lesser position. This may put you in a position of learning quite a bit about how she thinks.

    You have nothing to lose as she already treats you with contempt. Remember knowledge is power and it is not wise to show your hand. If you position yourself in a position to gather info on how she thinks, it will be to your benefit. I can only suggest proceed with caution. If she thinks you a dunce, so what, you’ve gained a considerable advantage if you don’t let on.

    1. BTOV,

      That advice is brilliant. I’d love to see the look on her face. Two can play this game.
      You have to learn how to beat them at their own game.

  12. BTOV, Thank you for your response, I truly appreciate it. I just cannot be around all the complaining. Its complaining from the time she walks in the door until she leaves. I don’t know if she realizes she complains all the time but she wouldn’t let on if she did know. I don’t want to be around her if she continues so I am just going to ask her if she realizes she complains a lot and tell her that it really leaves me depressed and that I just can’t be around it. Then I am going to ask her what if anything she can do about it. I just can’t take it anymore. If she agrees to do something about it I will see her again and then will take on the manipulation which bothers me as much as the complaining, one incidence at a time. This is the only way she communicates and I have really had it. Its just too much work and I know I will have no effect on her behavior, shes too ingrained in it and sees no reason to change. There have been other members of her family that told her she was not welcome to come over because of her behavior. From reading the book I get that she is a independent person, and thinks she needs no one. But then she is continually asking me to do things with her as well so its a bit confusing. I see what you are saying, giving her the dominance position so she believes she is “winning”, but I have lost my patience and am no longer willing to be a “sounding board” for her complaining.

    1. Kat,

      I know a woman and she is 80 now. Regardless, she complains and finds fault with everyone and everything. She is such a negative person, I get sick listening to her.

      I asked her once “Can you tell me one positive thing in life?” She went on a rant that whatever was good was ruined or taken from her. Every excuse but something good. I had a girlfriend who went through a horrendous ordeal, reliving it and hating life and was negative about everything. I just told her if this is all your going to do is be negative I can’t listen to you anymore.

      Her PRIDE prevented her from calling me ever again. There is more to these individuals than meets the eye or we can understand until the minute pieces of the puzzle come together. If you call her out do it in a kind and loving way. Don’t get pulled into and argument or excuse making on her part, let her take it or leave it and put the ball in her court.

      Just from my experience and opinion. Good luck Kat!!!!!
      (((Hugs)))) and blessings

      1. Bang on, Btov,

        Pride and arrogance are right there at the center of all character disorders. Digging in, stubbornness, wilfullness, are all part of it. They will not willingly submit ever.

        In the show, “Evil Lives Here,” families reconstruct their lives with psychopathic killers and the one trait that is dominant in these types, over all others, is just that…this over the top pride and ego.

        Of course the psychopathic killer is an extreme example, but all PC’s share this trait as a dominant feature of their personalities, masked or otherwise.

      2. BTOV I have a friend who is the same. She is in her late 60’s now and getting worse with age. In the last 18 months or so, she’s lost quite a few friends due to her shoddy treatment of them, her paranoia and constant wining and complaining. She is beyond a doubt one of the most negative people I’ve ever met. I’ve cut ties with her. If I see her I’ll be cordial but will only engage in pleasantries and keep it short. I can’t stand being around her. Everybody who has cut her loose have all been on the receiving end of her hostilities as a result of her excessive judgement and trying to hold them to account by attempting to make them fit her faulty perception hers. Every single one of them without exception. She still refuses to believe she is the cause or review her own behavior that has led to the mass exodus of friends during that time. She is a victim of herself. If anybody has to be in her company for any period of time under her roof she becomes a demanding, ruthless tyrant. She is definitely CD.

    2. Kat you won’t be able to do anything about it. They will never be responsible for their own behavior and she’ll just turn it back on you. During my sabbatical (reflective time to heal) I did some solid research in this area. I thought I understood narcissism but my understanding only just touched the surface. Since two different episodes with different styles of neurotics and CD narcs all with different aggressive styles – it opened my eyes right up and I’ve come to understand more about it. Initially I thought I was cursed by having to go through this ordeal again and two attacks of it replete with flying monkeys both times and over a period of months each time.

      There are many things that need to be done. Firstly what any victim of CDNs need to look at is their own co-dependant behaviors. This is not what we usually think it is. I am not talking about Codependent PD I am talking about co-dependence many of us have – it’s about unconsciously seeking approval from others. I was in denial about being co-dependent for ages until I fully realised what it was about. Because nobody will never get approval of any kind from a narc it will always be the same mental torture. Co-dependents suffer massively at their hands because of this. Most if not all empaths are co-dependent until they understand the nature of co-dependence then they can break free of it. A narcissist’s agenda is to not see you, to not acknowledge you. This is why co-dependents suffer greatly and how they get under our skin and how it drags out for sometimes years. We will never get from them something they can not give. Understanding it helps us to heal a lot faster and helps us come to terms with narcissistic abuse and the toxic dance between the abuser and the abused. It helped me anyway.

      I would suggest you google Lisa Romano on UTube and listen to some of her talks. I would suggest you listen to all of them. There is also another woman out there I don’t know what her name is but she does an excellent talk on “little digs” This is another tool in the CDs arsenal used frequently.

      1. Eudox,
        Yes, I saw the you tube talk on “little digs” did that ever hit home. It is truly a warning when someone does this. Someone that sees something in us we could improve on says it with kindness and then says its just my opinion, I sure think you look nicer without makeup, one can see the beauty of the real you. I guess that’s the difference compared to the dig.

      2. “co-dependence”. From what I understood from blogs & books, this term is bit complex. It is sort of dependency on something but in twisted way.
        One example is that husband is drunkard, but when he is totally drunk he is in better mood so wife had a bit better time. So, she actually encourages drinking. She is co-dependent on alcohol.

        1. AndyD,

          I would tend to agree with you on the complexity of the term or definition what constitutes co-dependency. I think the term is used to casually. There is a woman writer named Melodie Beatie who has written some very good reading on co-dependency.

        2. Andy/BTOV – co-dependency I am referring to is being co-dependent on other’s approval. Not specifically on certain people like a wife to a husband or a drug to a drug addict or alcohol to an alcoholic.

          It comes as kids when were originally sought our parents/care givers attention and approval. What I found is when we seek to work out what makes a CD tick and why they are doing this or that. In particular their false accusations and really shitty things they try to label us with, say and do. The co-dependance I’m speaking about is the need for others to approve of us. To be seen in the right light. Lisa Romano gives some excellent scenarios on this because she recognised her own co-dependence. So did another woman I know in this country who has done some profound work with narcissists and co-dependents. The term when loosely applied is not what we initially think it is and it’s why I was in denial about it for years. Now that I fully understand it, I can see why being seen in the right light for who I am and not what they paint me as was important. Well these days I don’t give a damn they can see me any way they like as I have and never will have control over how they see me. I just want nothing more to do with any of them. It finally set me free of any responsibility I previously had toward them. Unfortunately I still need to deal with one but I will be doing that through legal channels.

          Once we reach acceptance of how they see us is what sets us free. From Lisa: “Their goal is to not validate you, your thoughts, feelings and opinions. You are just an object to them. And resisting this is suffering. I am finally ‘ok’ with their narcissistic agenda and I’ve detached from them. I no longer care if I matter to them or not. In fact, in some strange way I’m glad that I don’t matter to them because it absolves me of all responsibility towards them. And in reality, I really did not wish to be involved with narcissists in the first place, so it’s a blessing in disguise. In a way, narcissists set their victims free simply by being narcissists. Their very nature frees you from them. But first you must learn how to detach from them by recognising their strategies and by not giving them power of you”.

          In order to remove their control we must first recognise areas where we may be co-dependant. For me personally I felt it important to set the record straight by defending my own character and nature and getting everybody on the same page – I wanted to fix it. I wanted to determine who the head CD was and who the flying monkeys were. A CD never will allow you to set the record straight. So why would we be bothered even trying. Blah! Futile waste of time. Furthermore, if a person – friend or family member can be recruited as a flying monkey it makes them as shallow and as abhorrent as the CD. They’ve made their bed now they can lie in it. I accept their faulty perception of me and good riddance! I’ve found better company and people like me who have been dragged through it by these liars extraordinaire so we all understand and we are all empaths. This is why we were targeted in the first place and f&**^d over by these deranged individuals.

          1. Following is probably first step in taking the control of own life back… 🙂
            “Eudoxia: Well these days I don’t give a damn they can see me any way they like as I have and never will have control over how they see me.”

  13. BTOV, thanks for the reminder to be kind and loving about it. Maybe because I am sick right now I am not feeling too generous with her. I spend half the night tossing and turning when I am around her it bothers me so much. I have a tendency to see the negative side of things – or have in the past and I have been working hard to have a positive and grateful spirit and maybe that’s why it affects me so much. I have been practicing telling her to myself so that I can get thru my emotions of how I feel about it so that I can approach her with calmness. That is my intention, to put the ball in her court and not get drawn into her denial, which is what I expect, like she doesn’t know what I am talking about and I don’t know for certain that she doesn’t due to her lack of empathy. I will be surprised if that doesn’t happen, but even if it does the issue still remains and then at that point I will start limiting contact with her. I just can’t do it anymore. Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Kat,

      One other thing, can you hold off for a week before you have contact with her.
      Each day you wait will give you time to feel better having not been around her, it will give you time to think of many aspects of the situation and how you will approach it. There are no time constraints here.

      Also, the longer you are away from her and around normal people the easier it will be for you to feel and see how ridiculous her behavior is. This is very important.

      Just a suggestion, keep posting for the next week and don’t interact with her. Get all your feelings and frustrations out here first. The time will give you time to objectively look at things from different angles. Also, you will have input from posters to mull around. Time is on your side. For whatever, reason, in dealing with the CD they cause us panic to react, this is also a tactic. That is why in the end NC is always the one and final answer.
      You get in the last word by no words, you have the last say so. NC

  14. BTOV, I am just so done with it I want to get it over. I have been mulling it over a while now and also practicing what I will say with another sister who cannot tolerate her company. She knows her well and she is the same towards her, even more so because I think she is really envious of her because she is a favorite with the other family members. I guess I felt sympathy for her because I thought she was struggling, and of course she is but she is not willing to acknowledge or put the effort into change, and her behavior is totally inappropriate. There are some family of origin issues regarding favoritism that we both have experienced also, things that were hurtful to us both and so that is what we have in common. She knows that because we have talked about it but I have moved on and she is still stuck. And her behavior happened even before those things became an issue so that is not why she is the way she is. We were never beat on or molested but our Dad was passive-aggressive and an alcoholic and he basically verbally abused us. But I don’t see these things as too terrible to get over, when you look at what others have been thru and have developed a healthy sense of self. We had plans to go out with a group but I can’t because I am sick so that would be enough of an excuse, but I am ready to tell her and thought I would spend the week thinking about her reaction and what to do about it. I feel a sense of relief about NC.

  15. Hi Kat,

    You are trying to have shared positive experiences, like going to a museum and looking at art work together and she is rebuffing you. This is ‘withholding’ and narcissists are practiced at it. My brother put up with a lot of it from his wife. It is one of the worst manipulative mind screws there are, as people bond through sharing positive experiences.

    So, she will go to a museum with you but looking at a piece of art with you is “kissing your butt?”
    That’s somebody who is frustrating the potential for bonding on a primary level.

    And..when my SIL did this to my brother, it is so reflexive, so much who they are, and so complicated, who wants to deconstruct every subtle little act like that with somebody?
    Besides, they will just argue with you. “That’s not what I’m doing. You’re crazy, always making mountains out of mole hills.”

    1. To All,

      LisaO again hitting nail on head. You exposed it for what it is. These sort of CD people tear us down instead of build us up. Kat, look at all the positive feedback you have gotten.. We all want to see you get through this. We try to lighten your load by sharing our knowledge and experiences.

      Wow, does LisaO’s post bring back memories. I did deconstruct every subtle little act and it served me well in my situation. I do put my knowledge and experiences with the CD to good use in helping others. No way, would I ever spend my time doing this again with any of the CD in my family. They are who they are and whatever we say will never make a difference. They choose to be CD and they like it.

  16. Btov, thanks so much. I am so sorry you had to go through so much pain to get to where you are today. Your memory serves you well when you are able to pass all that you’ve learned on to others! Bless you, Girl!

    When my brother shared all the subtle withholding techniques his wife pulled on him with me, I felt like I died a little inside just listening to them. It’s hard to explain to people how these little acts hurt, unless they have experienced them. You know your attempts to get closer are being frustrated, but the other party can easily deny it all and accuse you of being over sensitive.

    1. LisaO,

      I know you spoke of the dilemma of your brother many times and I could feel the pain you were going through. I think it would take me many moons to find the posts in the archives, but remember them, nonetheless.

      I am glad your brother is free and you can develop the relationship that should had been in the first place. May you find joy and happiness together.

  17. Well as circumstances would have it, I was all ready to talk to her and I have such a bad sore throat I won’t be doing any talking for a few days I think. This will give me a while to mull it over – now back to bed. Thank you!

    1. Kat
      Sometimes the anticipation of an upcoming event (encounter) is more nerve wracking than the actual event.
      Sore throats are the worst. I feel for you

  18. Thanks Lucy, yes I hate sore throats!
    Can anyone answer this question? My sister is a N, which means they are looking for the dominant position and her relationships with men have mostly been abusive, as in shes the one getting abused. The last “relationship” she had she wanted the man to make all the decisions for her, even ordering her food in a restaurant. It seems she will accept any kind of treatment – this particular person tried to get her pin number to her bank card and he did some other unacceptable things as well. Me and my other sister warned her to stay away from him and she did for a while, but then went back to seeing him until she found someone else who was equally a user. She also doesn’t seem able to see its inappropriate. When I asked her what she thought about him asking for her pin number she said she thought he was joking. Is it just about pride that she doesn’t want to see it? But if she is looking for the one up position, why is she willing to give them the more powerful position?
    Its just so sickening.

    1. Kat she doesn’t sound like a N they never give people a “one up” position it’s not in their make up. You sister may not have a personality disorder at all, she may just be a submissive or naivete person. A Narc is far from submissive and in total contrast to the behaviors you have mentioned with your sister. People who are prone to subjugation could be that way for any number of reasons.

      1. Some other things about her personality, she always turns the conversation around to herself . She makes things sound dramatic and puts people she first meets on unrealistic pedestals. Her perception of reality is way off, she draws conclusions at times that are based on nothing but her desires of what she wishes would happen. But she does not seem to have a grandiose perception of herself, just unrealistic. She thinks men are interested in her if they just smile at her, even if they are 30 years her junior.

  19. Eudoxia, now you have me wondering. Since she was a young child she has lied and been very envious of family members. She does not seem to have empathy, the way she treated her X – constantly yelling and nagging and the same with her kids. She was very mean as a child and doesn’t realize how she effects others and truly doesn’t seem to care about any family members, and I think the only reason she wants to do things with me is because it suits her needs. She does not take personal responsibility for herself, always wanting me to make all the decisions, where to eat, what time to go, where to go, etc. because its easier for her, shes fine with whatever I decide as long as she doesn’t have to make any decisions or do any work. The reason I thought she was N is because her focus is always just on herself and she interprets things only as it relates to and effects her.

    1. Kat – most of what you say about her is typical of a Narc but there are some points you raise that are non consistent. A Narc does not value you, they do not value your decisions. You are an object to them and nothing more. A Narc would not give you any autonomy to make decisions yourself. It is out of character for them to give you control in any way because to do so would put them in a one down position. You are not allowed to have your own opinions, make your own decisions it’s not something they allow you to do and they like you to know in their underhanded, menacing and covert way that you are incompetent and/or inferior to them. This is the reason I say there may be other identifiers at hand here which don’t add up to a narc well not a not a pure narc anyway. Many people here will tell you how they must control every degree of your life. Nobody in a narc’s desolate world is important we are all lowly serfs at the narc’s beck and call. It sounds like she may be more Histrionic than narc, even though there are histrionic narcs. There is now a spectrum as defined by Dr Simon which includes histrionics, borderlines and paranoid PD plus the higher end of the scale” MNs, sociopaths and psychopaths. As the doc points out and I can see this also in my own personal interactions there are vast differences between the neurotics and the character disturbed and it’s why I am just referring to a narc not a CD.

      There could be any number of reasons your sis is negative and complains a lot, she may just be empathy deficient or simply unable to express her feelings freely for fear of being vulnerable. The fact she yells a lot could just indicate she’s easily triggered. You’ve stated she’s asked you for examples of her behavior that’s opening a dialogue with you, narcs don’t allow you to judge them or criticize them you will be stonewalled or any other number of strategies to bring you back into submission. Also you don’t get to chose where to eat, what to chose for her to eat etc, that’s would be a big NO NO for a narc, that would make them vulnerable to you unless they are setting you up for something. Narcs are highly ME oriented, they view every occassion as in “what’s in it for me or how can I use this to my advantage” It is very complex. I hope for your sake your sis is just neurotic it does sound like that’s the case IMHO. But she’d have to be professionally diagnosed to make the call.

      1. Kat and Eudox.

        I’ll beg to differ on this point. An N who does not have the knowledge or capacity to make decisions in a certain field will many times give you the reins to make decisions knowing inside they are incompetent to do so. Will they stick their 2 cents in most definitely, but if things are going fine, will leave you with the work. If by chance you make a wrong decision they will come back with a blast, had you asked them they would had known.

        Also, when a narc is put on the spot and may lose some of their power they will act in a humble way to take you off guard to get you back on track. Not all narcs play the same games or by the same rules.

        Strategies change to take one off guard. In one of Dr. Simon’s articles he talked about the criminal inmate that had all the Prison staff fooled and Dr. Simon was on the block for his critique that didn’t agree with all the staff that had been taken in. In the end Dr. Simon’s judgement proved well founded.

        Beware, there are so many variables at play with these kind of CD, one needs to be very wary in their appraisals. Many times it is hard for us since we haven’t had direct contact or observation of these ones.

  20. I don’t see her as having to always have the one up. I know she apologized to appease me and I am just about positive she won’t take any action about the negativity. Pretty sure she will just use denial like she already did to say she doesn’t know she is complaining. I believe at the core she feels inadequate so she is willing to give over the reins, and in fact prefers it that way whenever it comes to making a decision or taking an action, either that or she is just plain being lazy. I will have to look at the histrionic descriptions closer. I know she likes to put people on pedestals and they can do no wrong, until they do and then they are the worst ever. What has always bothered me most is the way she treated her children. It was like she didn’t have the natural love a mom has for their children. She just always seemed to be put out to have to deal with them and they couldn’t say a word before she was yelling at them to shut up. With no regard to their mental health and how the way she treated them would affect them. She seems to have no introspection about herself at all, just clueless. Regardless on whether she is a CD or not, I can’t be around this behavior, its just too depressing.

    1. kat,
      That sounds like mean and childish behavior. If that behavior is systematic and consistent, then it is strong indicator of narcissism. She may not be bad enough to qualify for personality disorder. She may even be borderline case of character disturbed. But, she surely has some issues.
      Human behavior is not exact science, that one is 33% narcissist, 20% passive-aggressive, 15% borderline, 5% autistic, and so on. One can never know her exact mix. But, she surely has some issues.

  21. Andy D, yes it would be hard to diagnose unless I was a mental health professional. I know she has some passive-aggressive stuff going on, some narcissism. She is a conundrum, she seems to have no other interests other than shopping and its hard to even have a conversation when a person is not interested in much. You have to take an interest in things and learning about things and have some interest in the world around you to have a conversation. I know self-focus is a problem for these times, but this is what the end results are. Pretty empty when the world only revolves around one’s self.

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