Neurotic vs. Character Disorder? Criterion Three – Guilt

People often get manipulated because they misjudge the character of their manipulator.  We have a tendency to want to see everyone else as basically pretty much like us.  We want to think that they think the same way, care about the same things, and feel the same way we do.  But individuals with disturbed characters are very different from most people, especially those who tend to be neurotic. 


In prior posts, I’ve highlighted how different character disorders are from neurotics when it comes to matters of conscience and the degree to which they experience anxiety.  The third major criterion on which these two personality types differ involves their capacity to experience genuine guilt.  Having the well-developed consciences that they do, neurotic individuals are quick to feel badly if they think they’ve done something wrong or harmful.  They beat themselves up internally and pledge to themselves that they will do better or try harder.  In contrast, disturbed characters don’t feel guilty enough when they hurt someone else or engage in wrongdoing.  When others point out the error of their ways, they shrug it off.  They don’t beat themselves up but rather they often attack their accusers. 


In emotionally abusive relationships, the disordered character will often use “guilt-tripping” as a manipulation tactic.  This is because neurotic individuals are easily swayed when their guilt button is pushed.  So the task for the manipulator is simple:  make the other person feel guilty and you’ll be able to have your way with them.  On the other hand, when the conscientious person tries to lay guilt upon the disordered character, it has no impact.  This is one way to tell if the person you’re in a relationship with is for the most part neurotic or character disordered.  

In my book, In Sheep’s Clothing, I outline all the major tactics disordered characters use to manipulate others.  In a soon to be released book, I present an in-depth look at what makes disturbed characters so different from most of us and how we have to approach relationships with them.    

4 thoughts on “Neurotic vs. Character Disorder? Criterion Three – Guilt

  1. Lived with Narcissists / Histrionics / Borderlines/ Manipulaters for 20 years. Did a 12 year study. Read all the books ( 26 ) . Over 3,000 articles. ”In Sheep’s Clothing” is an easy read. I have recommended…. ”In Sheep’s Clothing” to many. Several Law Enforcement Agency’s thank me over and over for recommending this book.

    This charater disorder is complicated at first. But once you ”really” understand… it’s pretty much garden variety. Patterns all the same. People call me all the time with the same question…. which I cannot answer. Other than ” Get you ‘re Nike shoes on and run for your life. Please help me help other’s …

    Kind Regards,

    Connie Smith

    1. …two failed marriages…both to narcissists. I’m definitely a neurotic with an overly active conscience and severe anxiety. I’m assuming the question you are commonly asked is, “what’s wrong and can they change?” First marriage ended after thirty years together, at the end, still trying to teach this man basic human emotions and needs…he never learned. Second is ending after 4.5 years. Same thing.

      Both believed they knew better than even God and used every excuse and tactic in the world to avoid taking responsibility for their disrespect for anyone they did not view as worthy, for whatever reason of the day. Simply no respect for anyone other than themselves. Just image management for those they wanted to impress or use.

      In the end I was exhausted to the point of death – from having beat my head against the same immovable wall – from every angle and every level, using every method and approach humanly possible…to no avail. I believed that “if they could just realize, and if I could just help them see, break through, help them heal…” On and on I tried…crashed…got up and tried again. In the end, NO SIGNIFICANT CHANGE. EVER. Except in me – I became exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I lost faith and hope in myself, in God, and in these men and our marriages. If I hadn’t left, I would have died.

      So…I can see why you say “Run.” Don’t even grab your shoes. Just go.

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