Personality and Character Disorders: The Continuum Revisited

Over the past couple of decades, we’ve come to realize that many conditions we tried to place into tidy little categories actually exist along a spectrum of quality and intensity. Such has proven to be the case, for example, with the Autistic Spectrum Disorders. It’s also conjectured to be the case with respect to narcissism, which is one of the reasons why the category of Narcissistic Personality Disorder was relegated to a different status in the latest edition of the official diagnositic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association. As those familiar with my work already know, I’ve long asserted that personality and character disturbances exist along a continuum. And in addition to the chapters in my books Character Disturbance and In Sheep’s Clothing that delve into this topic, you can also find several relevant articles here on the blog (e.g., Character Disturbance Exists along a Continuum, The Continuum of Character Disturbance – Part 2, The Character Disturbance Continuum – Part 3, and The CD Continuum Wrap-Up: The Preeminent Role of Character). We’re revisiting the topic to emphasize that the continuum of character disturbance is one of both quantity and quality.  Let me explain:

One continuum I’ve long talked about is the continuum that encompasses pathological “neurosis” at one extreme and pure character impairment at the other. This is the qualitative dimension of the continuum. Folks at the neurotic end of the spectrum tend to be overly anxious, insecure, self-doubting, conscientious to a fault (i.e. laboring under an “opressive,” conscience) and sometimes out of touch with their emotions and motivations. Folks at the other end of the spectrum, by contrast, tend to be lacking in adaptive fearfulness, overly self-esteeming and confident, unscrupulous, and while aware of their sentiments and motivations, uncaring about the impact they have on others. There are actually many dimensions on which individuals at the extremes of this continuum differ. Suffice it to say that on just about any dimension of human functioning you can think of disordered characters are radically different from their neurotic counterparts.

Character disturbance itself, however, is also a matter of degree.  There’s a continuum of severity to character impairments, ranging from mild character immaturity to severe character dysfunction. Not all the difficult people in your life will meet the criteria established for a true character “disorder.” But that doesn’t mean that some of these folks aren’t significantly disturbed characters capable of making your life miserable. The degree of character impairment a person has, however, does have a lot to do with how likely it is they might change (with the right type of intervention).

For some time now we’ve been in a sociocultural climate that has helped make character disturbance of one level or another much more commonplace than it once was (it’s also the reason there’s far fewer cases of highly pathological neurosis).  That mere fact would be problem enough, but it’s compounded by the reality that few professionals recognize the problem for what it is and even fewer are adequately prepared to address it. These – in a nutshell – are the reasons for my books, this blog, my workshops, weekly broadcast, and all the other things I do to promote higher awareness of character disturbances.  And over the next couple of weeks, the articles I’ll be posting will present some vignettes designed to illustrate how character disturbances of various of types and degrees can be better detected and dealt with. As always, the sharing of personal experiences by the commentators should lend much to the discussion.

Character Matters will be a live broadcast this Sunday evening (6 pm CST) with no pre-recorded portions, so there’s plenty of time to take your phone calls.

130 thoughts on “Personality and Character Disorders: The Continuum Revisited

  1. I need some guidance in this area. I believe I am character disordered. I cannot seem to care about other people’s lives or feelings, even though I am capable of acting in a “nice” way. I know the way I think is messed up – in my head all I think of is the negative, even though I have an amazing family and friends. And although I hate myself, I don’t feel enough shame or guilt. It’s like there’s power and satisfaction in thinking in a negative way and putting others down and thinking you’re superior. Since my shame and guilt are insufficient, do you have any advice for helping me to change? My behavior is not terrible, it’s just in my head the way I think about others is really screwed up. It’s like I’m incapable of love.

    I know I’ve dug this hole myself, I’m just not sure of how to get out of it. If you could please give me some suggestions as to how to start thinking differently, I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

    1. Christine,

      Thank you for sharing.

      The way you think is it because you don’t always grasp the whys behind another person’s feelings.

      You said: “It’s like I’m incapable of love.”

      Instead of the word “incapable” would a better word be “clueless”?

      1. Hi Suzi,

        Thanks for your reply. I don’t think I’m “clueless” about love per se, I know people love me but it’s reciprocating that is difficult for me. I have a hard time seeing other people’s feelings as real and important. It’s almost like I’m living in my own little world, and I know for sure that my perception of the world is totally off. Every conversation and relationship is a power struggle for me, and I can’t relax like others can and just enjoy other people. I always have to have control and be superior to others. There are so many issues with my thinking that I don’t know where to start. I see that my thinking is so dark, negative, and unrealistic but I don’t know what beliefs to replace them with. I want to figure out how to think correctly, so I can think in line with reality.

        So far in my life I’ve rejected a lot of reality and now my thinking seems upside down from most people with character.

        1. Christine,

          Thank you for your response. I greatly appreciate it.

          Maybe there is a chance that I somewhat understand what you are saying. Please understand that I am not very good at putting it into words like you are.

          I have members of my family, past and present, that are nice and intelligent people. Although they don’t seem to be able to attach emotion and feelings to the behavior, words, or actions of others.

          I used the word clueless for my lack of a better word. Reciprocate, that’s a much better word you used and it accurately describes what I’m trying to say….they can’t figure out how to reciprocate. They are fully aware that people have emotional responses but they don’t understand why or how to do it themselves.

          It’s the how and why that seems baffling and confusing to them. They intellectually understand everything that is going on within the family but their understanding does not include all the emotional stuff attached to it. In public they strive to adapt to the point of exhaustion or they simply ignore others. That leaves them in a dark hole, unhappy, and frustrated, mixed with a lot of anxiety and uneasiness in social settings.

          I’m guessing that they think something is wrong with themselves just as I have thought something was wrong with me.

          We had a discussion a few weeks ago on this blog about how it’s difficult for us to understand that other people think differently than we do. My gut tells me that thinking differently may go even deeper than many of us can possibly imagine. Things aren’t always what they seem to be on the surface.

          There are times I need to separate the facts from my feelings. And the fact just may be the difference between “won’t” and “can’t”. Maybe my love ones “can’t” do what I take for granted, the feeling stuff. Likely the reason is not because there is something wrong with them or something wrong with me. The reason may very well be because we are all born different.

          Much of what we do in life is influenced by our environment, our training and our choices. Another link is what we are born with. What we are born with makes a big difference between “won’t” and “can’t”.

          Perhaps there is a birth given difference in the way each person functions on an emotional level. And perhaps what I am seeing in my family is theory of mind and mind blindness issues – a different way of seeing the world.

          1. I can definitely relate to what you said about “They are fully aware that people have emotional responses but they don’t understand why or how to do it themselves.” It is very frustrating, and yup maybe emotionality differs at birth. I know for me I regarded emotions as weakness even as a kid so I probably trained myself not to feel over time.

        2. Christine,

          I’m so very interested in your comments. Do you act out a lot towards your friends? Are you controlling of them as well? Do you easily cut people out of your life?

          1. Hi Sonia, no I don’t act out a lot towards my friends in general, but there were a couple friends I have stabbed in the back. My guilt and shame is deficient to where I try to justify myself rather than feel truly bad that they are hurt. I do easily cut people out of my life. I try to be good, but a lot of times the feelings aren’t behind the actions.

    2. Christine,
      Now you have taken first big step of acknowledging the problem and started seeing yourself as potential source of your problems. Best will be to meet a psychologist that specializes in CBT.

    3. Christine,

      I can give you only one suggestion to help you get in touch with emotions and feelings. A few years ago I happened upon a class called “Nia”, which is a dance/movement form of exercise that embraces emotion and feelings at the same time you “dance”. At the end of the first class I took it was all I could do to not burst into tears. You can find information on the internet regarding Nia. It is not a mainstream class, so you may have to hunt to find an area near you that offers it. Good luck friend.
      Linda

    4. Christine,

      Thank you for sharing. I always find it amazing, informative, and to be honest really intriguing to hear how a DC views the world in their own words.

      I read somewhere that the lack of feelings a DC experiences is like being color blind and looking at a trafic light. You know what the top and bottom lights mean but you can’t truly experience what it is to see color. From what I have read I don’t really think it’s likely to invoke “feelings” if this is the case with you.

      The issues of negativity, dominance, and control, you describe also sound very familiar from the DCs I have encountered in my life personally.

      It is great you’re able to recognize your issues and a HUGE step in improving things for yourself and others around you.

      My only advice in terms of helping yourself out the negativity and dysfunction is to carefully look at the attitudes you hold that bring on such negative thoughts. I know it sounds abstract but without specific examples it’s hard to give specific answers. Your attitudes towards yourself and others are a key if you are to make progress. Examine them and understand if they are healthy and “pro social”.

      Also, even if you cannot truly “feel” empathy towards others, you can make an adaptive effort to be more sensitive to what others feel even if it’s only on an intellectual level. As anyone with a disability, there are things you may never be able to do, but you can find ways to improve your level of function and quality of life.

      Thanks again for your honestly and good luck!

      1. A thought for critical thinking based on this one statement that Christine made:

        “I know people love me but it’s reciprocating that is difficult for me.”

        Reciprocating by sharing feelings and emotions, alternately back and forth, to give and receive.

        The inability to reciprocate – a disability or a difference?

        Now I’m back to the thought- We all think different.

        1. I say “disability” in the sense that a DC is “unable” to manifest feelings such as love or empathy. They exist mainly in their egos -an image or projection of themselves. They are completely out of touch with their core self where real feeling exist.

          I think like dr. Simon states in this article, depending on where one is on the spectrum, determines a lot in terms of prognosis.

          A true psychopath is so completely out of touch with their core self that I would argue they really do have “disability” and a dangerous one at that, to feel. They just have to constantly victimize control and dominate others to feel their egos.

          If the ability to authentically feel from ones core self is not completely impaired by a different brain structure from birth or irreversible damage during specialization, there is some hope of recovery.

          I’m not an expert but this is what Im understanding after sifting through a lot of information.

          1. Valencia,

            Are psychopaths out of touch with their core selves, or are they just missing the typical constituents of a core self? Maybe they are in touch with their core selves, but their core selves are very different.

            I apologize to any I might offend here by asking this question, too. I think that people have an individual unconscious and further to that, we all participate or are connected to each other through the ‘collective unconscious.’ I don’t know much about ‘cloud’ technology, but it seems to be somewhat similar.

            Maybe some people, for some reason, are born with weak connections to the collective? If this is the case it would affect theory of mind, which is what autistic and autistic spectrum individuals struggle with, to some degree or another.

            That is a real hard wired problem that I’ve witnessed first hand and my heart goes out to people who want to connect but have such a difficult time making it happen.

            Now, with psychopathology, it seems to me, there may be some difficulty here as well, but it may be easier for the born psychopath to change, even if it is somewhat rooted in wiring. Maybe it is wiring together with a lack of intent to change that is the problem.

            Maybe there is something about the gates of the collective unconscious that can only be blasted open by humility. And that changes the wiring.

            In other words it essential to have a little perspective on where we stand in relation to others and the greater universe, in order to gain more. Once we are clearly within the collective, empathy is much easier to achieve and all that follows.

          2. LisaO,

            I agree with much of what you say here. Me too I’m not sure if psychopaths have the same core self/ collective unconscious as the rest of us.

            Could it be they are tapping into completely different? I have read some crazy sounding theories about “organic portals” and such. Basically some people theorize that true psychopaths are a different type of being thatis here on earth to ccreate bad energy in people and harvest it for their kind to feed on. Lol

            I don’t know… A bit far fetched. Not exactly something you can prove but kind of sounds about right.

            I would say they definitely do cause a lot of hurt in others and they seems to invigorate them.

            I have also known many people become somewhat narcissistic after experiencing trauma. And in so doing causing more harm to others. It’s almost like an infectious disease. Zombie apocalypse of narcs? The toxicity does seem to spread. Could psycopaths be the source?

            Just saying! Lol

      2. Adding on to Suzi’s comment. My take on… “I know people love me but it’s reciprocating that is difficult for me.”

        Loving someone means, giving something without expecting anything in return.

        It also includes giving love and care even though I do not get love and care in return. (How long that is sustainable is a debatable point. Depending upon Christine’s age, that point may not have been reached yet for her caring relatives).

        Now, people with narcissistic traits are so much in love with their image that they simply cannot give anything up. And, if they do, it will not be for charitable reason, they are expecting 10 fold return on their investment.

        1. All,

          The definition of love, that’s a tough one. Ask five people and you’ll get ten maybe fifteen different answers. I love my children and I love my home, and my dog to and of course I love spaghetti and I love my son’s teacher and on and on it goes.

          Andy D: “Loving someone means, giving something without expecting anything in return.”

          Yes – Love one another. I give can goods to charity and expect nothing in return.

          No – Expecting nothing in return is not the type of love that is needed in a close relationship. A basic human need is emotional bonding. It’s a type of love that is dependent on a constant flow and the exchange of feelings reflected in words, actions and behavior. Also dependent on body language, facial expressions, tears, often times no spoken words are needed. It’s a constant flow between giving and taking. A constant flow although not always equal.

          Love in English has many meanings.

          The character disordered, well no matter how one defines the word love they simply do not fit any of the molds of a caring and giving person.

          Christine has not indicated any intent or motive to harm others. What she thinks does not do harm to others. We are all free to think whatever. There are times I feel like wrapping a certain person around the nearest telephone pole. I think it, I don’t do it.

          In her writing she indicates niceness, curiosity and motivation and the inability to reciprocate, the whys and hows of the emotions of others.

          Nice, curiosity and motivation does not equal disordered. The pieces don’t fit.

          I believe she is asking questions and struggling. She knows her family loves her and she wants to be like her family and friends….feelers. The feeling kind of stuff that we literally take for granted.

          There is a possibility that her inability to reciprocate feelings is neurologically based. Not bad character. And it is unfair for any of us to accuse her of any such thing at this point.

          There’s no justification in leading her to identify with something that is not true. Until she reveals more of herself, which BTW is none of my business, I contend that she is not character disordered.

          Don’t anyone aim the gun at me. I stand firm on my belief that disordered characters are an extremely serious problem. I offer no excuses for their behavior or their choices. Without any doubt they are hell on earth.

          Although in this situation I’m thinking that Christine is different; not disordered or disabled. She does not fit in with our character disordered disasters.

          She feels and experiences the world differently.

        2. Hi Andy, I am in my early twenties. I do believe I am narcissistic, in love with my image but that image is not the real me. I don’t do anything for truly pure reasons. I can act loving but I know my feelings are deficient.

      3. Valencia, thank you so much for your comment. I think your advice to examine my attitudes is a great idea, and will help me. I am thinking of maybe writing down my thoughts throughout the day. I think I can explain my mindset and attitude a little more specifically. I want to come on later and explain a bit more. I agree even if I can’t “feel” I can find ways to improve my level of function and quality of life.

        I will definitely come back and explain a little more of my life. Thank you for your help.

    5. Hi Christine,

      You mention that others feelings don’t seem real or important to you. Can you remember a time when they did? Do you feel all of life has taken on a dream like quality to you; that you are real and other people aren’t quite? If so, do you remember when this state of being started?

      What is your incentive to change? Do you wish to fit in? If so, why?

      1. LisaO: “That is a real hard wired problem that I’ve witnessed first hand and my heart goes out to people who want to connect but have such a difficult time making it happen.”

        LisaO: “Maybe some people, for some reason, are born with weak connections to the collective? If this is the case it would affect theory of mind, which is what autistic and autistic spectrum individuals struggle with, to some degree or another”

        It’s a little difficult for me to decide how far I will allow my heart to go out to some of them. I straddle the fence trying to figure it all out. The definition has become so broad. At one end of the spectrum they are running multibillion dollar corporations and the other end they need personal care from others.

        I feel the ASD label goes far to excuse all kinds of behavior that, without the diagnosis, would be called abuse. The affects are the same as any abusive marriage or close relationship.

        If some who are functional and on the spectrum aren’t a cluster B then I’ll eat my hat! Their inability to feel others is terrifying. The terrorist personality.

        1. Hi Suzie,

          Autistic spectrum individuals are usually male and have what is neurologically assumed to be an overly ‘masculine’ brain. This is according to the British expert, Dr. Cohen, the leading expert on autism.
          I have heard of single neuro-typical men jokingly referred to as, ‘bears with furniture,’ ! This cracks me up.

          Now, if you take that feature of a significant minority of solitary men, who regard their ‘man caves’ as a place to hang out and be a bit of a slob and add a touch of autism, you are going to have a spectrum individual. That individual doesn’t just like to retreat to some inner sanctum, they MUST retreat. They aren’t generally deceptive at all. For one, they are often highly principled, for another the socially cagey aspects of deception would not be well understood, in the first place. It’s all they can do to socialize with people they can connect with cerebrally.

          The subtleties, conversational digressions, and quickly shifting emotional reactions of social interactions, outside of their areas of interest, particularly are so draining for them.

          But ASD? I just realized you are probably referring to anti-social disorder, not autistic spectrum? And, if so, I’m in complete agreement with your point of view.

          There may be some alteration in the brains of some of them, too, but these individuals are remarkably astute observers of their fellow human beings and their social dexterity is pretty amazing. Deception is what they do best if they have chosen predation, as a means to gain leverage over others.

          It is crucial for these individuals to develop a very strong set of moral principles and if not compassion, then some reasonable facsimile, for those who are held together by the gel of emotional reciprocity. If not for the neuro-typicals, there wouldn’t be a society, in the first place. The arguments put forth by some psychopaths is contempt for emotions, as they say emotion gets in the way of cool, analytical detachment. They often then follow up with tales of how they have taken advantage of those with normal emotions. The gist of some of these conversations is an arrogant belief that we would all be better off without emotion. They don’t seem to realize that without emotion, (even though it can be taken advantage of, very easily, by propagandists and political and religious zealots) we would not likely be here. We would cease to function, entirely, as human beings within complex, highly structured systems.

          Christine mentioned how her thinking about people take place, in her head. She doesn’t act on what she describes as ‘negative’ attitudes. If her state of mind is more the result of hard wiring than anything else, she is to be applauded, for being principled enough to want to change and not being a nasty person. So, way to go, Christine!

          1. Thanks LisaO. I really do think I am nasty though. The way I think I believe is voluntary but habitual. So I think one day in my past I chose to think this way, but it’s become such a habit that I’ve gotten lost in it and can’t seem to find my way out. Even when I was little, I thought I was better than everybody else, smarter, etc. I had contempt for feelings and I would get mad at people if they cried and I didn’t have compassion when I made someone cry.

            Everyone thinks I’m nice except the people that I’ve stabbed in the back. I can act nice but it feels like a complete show and not genuine. I also have this gnawing feeling of contempt when people are nice to me and maybe it’s because I regard it as weakness? I realize that these feelings are wrong and twisted and I want to start untwisting my mind.

            I realize that the way I see people is completely wrong. I don’t know if I have empathy or not, but I know that my internal world is different than most people. I don’t want to be this grumpy, nasty person but sometimes I feel like it makes me powerful. In reality, it doesn’t. Sometimes I get scared of what I am, but other times I feel above others because of it.

            If there were a magic pill, I would like to be a normal person who has the ability to love. It’s like a tug of war inside me. Part of me likes being mean and the other part of me doesn’t like it. Part of me wants to change and part of me doesn’t.

            I was hoping that maybe if I keep practicing thinking something different, I can become a different person.

            I appreciate your comments and advice!

      2. Hi LisaO, I don’t really remember a time when they did. I think I was always like this – I know as children, we can be selfish. I don’t think I ever grew out of it. I do feel that all of life has taken on a dream like quality to me. I don’t remember when it started, but I know I have gotten worse as time has gone on. I believe in college it got worse. I started thinking worse and worse things about people that weren’t true and just let my mind get out of control.

        As far as motivation to change, I am not completely sure. Part of me doesn’t feel motivated to change. But I know for sure that my thinking is messed up. I think if I changed, I would be happier. And sometimes I feel unable to think straight. I would like to be able to think straight. I also am in my early twenties and I can’t just let go and enjoy my life like other people do. I am so negative and still young, so if I changed my thinking I think I would be able to enjoy my life and be more like a normal young person.

    6. To me, this seems a bit on the edge of the Autism Spectrum. just enough in to feel off and know something is wrong, but not enough to be diagnosed. My suggestion? Meditate, Dance (like they said), work with animals to bring up a bit more emotion. If all else, fails-do no harm to others & live with how you are.

      1. Anna Nim: “To me, this seems a bit on the edge of the Autism Spectrum. just enough in to feel off and know something is wrong, but not enough to be diagnosed.”

        LisaO: “So, way to go, Christine!”

        That is what it seems to me to. I saw nothing in her writing but curiosity and motivation, she indicated her awareness of something out of her range that she wants to understand.

        Curiosity, motivation, awareness, understanding and no blaming…..these pieces don’t fit the character disordered profile.

        1. Hi Suzi,

          I’ve gotten past blaming outside forces for the way I am. However, I do think I am character disordered because even if I don’t always show it on the outside, my general attitude toward other people is screwed up. I don’t “see” people as they are I think. I am always looking to win over others. I always want the upper hand, but I don’t know why this is so important to me. Just letting go and letting someone else have control too would not kill me, it would be healthy, but I don’t know why it feels sooo important for me to always be in control.

          I don’t usually go out of my way to hurt others on purpose. But I feel so fake because I have all this going on in my mind, while being nice on the outside for the most part. I feel like every interaction is a battle instead of something to be enjoyed. I would like to get to the root of the need for control, and the disdain of submission.

    7. Christine,

      Thank you for your response. It’s interesting and informative. I do have one more question: if one of the people that you have (easily) cut out of your life came back and apologized, asking for another chance, would you consider it? Meaning, would a heart-felt apology where the other person make themselves vulnerable, strike a chord with you at all?

      I have a former friend who sounds much like you. She left after I asked her for a mutual friendship (I now think she really was giving me all she had) and after apologizing for what I did wrong, she hasn’t acknowledged me at all and has stayed silent, giving me the cold shoulder. This former friends abhors the expression of feelings and as I have observed first hand, despises the weakness of apologies.

      How would you react?

      Thank you so much 🙂

    8. Christine,

      Another question (okay a couple):

      1. Do you allow people to get close to you?
      2. Are your relationships mostly superficial, because you view feelings as weakness?
      3. Do you hide a lot about yourself?
      4. What triggered you to become aware of your own behaviors?

      Thank you 😉

      Do

  2. Hi Christine,

    Welcome and thank you for having the courage to admit to your shortcomings and posting on this site. I have a hard time owning my own. I would encourage you to read all Dr. Simons topics on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Empathy and the posts accompanied by the topic. Get a feel and put yourself in the shoes of those precious and brave people that have shared their stories of pain and sorrow.

    You have made the most difficult hurdle by admitting and seeking help. I would suggest finding a therapist you feel you can trust and share with them your feelings and really commit to working through your issues you explained above with them. I would suggest a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and commit yourself to stay the course. Myself being an individual that cares to much I give my therapists permission to tell me what I need to hear not what I want to hear. That approach for myself has not been an easy road to travel but in doing so I have leaped ahead instead of plodding along. Not that I don’t have setbacks and yes I have had to work on character issues too.

    I hope you stay for awhile, I am sure there is a lot we can learn from each other. I am sure you will find many caring individuals on this site that will be able to give you further encouragement and input so please check back tomorrow.

    Thank you for sharing and having the courage to post.

    1. Hi BTOV,

      Thank you for your encouragement! Thank you for your advice. I’m glad that you are making leaps and bounds, cognitive behavioral therapy sounds like a great way to go about making change in one’s thinking and behaviors. I really like Dr. Simon’s articles, I think they make so much sense and are straightforward. I will keep on reading! Thanks for the welcome and I am looking forward to following the blog.

  3. Having just read about Dr Simon’s character/personality distinction recently, I want to say how much it has helped me. It’s as if a huge weight dropped off my shoulders when I accepted that some people are not amenable to change and can stay stuck in immature and socially inadequate behaviours to their and other people’s detriment.

    I have lived around such people all my life – my mother, father, brothers and now a partner – it’s as if I was so strongly habituated to this kind of behaviour that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. As a child, I was also told that everything that went wrong was my fault, with this belief going deeply into my psyche.

    In the last few days, I’ve been able to see that it wasn’t my fault that these people I cared so much for, and tried to help so earnestly, didn’t want to change, couldn’t change, and had no idea what I was talking about. Suddenly, it’s no longer my fault. I’m not a stupid person, a poor communicator, or somebody who doesn’t understand what’s happening.

    A therapist made the comment to me last year that change is very important to me. Now I’m beginning to get a better grasp on why.

    1. Stella, you’ll find your feelings and story eerily similar to many of us here.
      “I have lived around such people all my life – my mother, father, brothers and now a partner – it’s as if I was so strongly habituated to this kind of behaviour that I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. As a child, I was also told that everything that went wrong was my fault, with this belief going deeply into my psyche.

      In the last few days, I’ve been able to see that it wasn’t my fault that these people I cared so much for, and tried to help so earnestly, didn’t want to change, couldn’t change, and had no idea what I was talking about. Suddenly, it’s no longer my fault. I’m not a stupid person, a poor communicator, or somebody who doesn’t understand what’s happening.”

      That is how I felt last year, and it’ll take a lot of work to uncover the real, caring, intelligent person underneath the conditioning. But you’ll feel as though you are finally able to breathe again once you do. Dr. Simon’s work is invaluable and you’ll find so much help here on the forum you’ll be forever grateful you found your way here.

    2. Stella,

      “As a child, I was also told that everything that went wrong was my fault…”

      I will say you are probably fortunate one to get the above message and finally be able to grow out of it. A worse fate awaits those who are told “As a child, I was also told that I am perfect and everything that went wrong was someone else fault” 😉

    3. Stella,
      And, you are very good communicator. And, a person smart enough to figure everything out even after life-long conditioning by several “trusted” family members. 🙂

      1. Vera, GG & Andy, Thanks, my experience has taught me about the power of conditioning and that ‘growing out of it’ isn’t easy. I think a big problem for me at the moment involves conditioning around trust. I was conditioned to trust the wrong people and to disregard my own intuitive responses to situations and people. Even writing that helps me feel clearer and better.

  4. To Dr. Simon and all the bloggers…….

    There has been a gross misunderstanding by some of the bloggers, of exactly what message I have been trying to convey.

    I realise now that I omitted to stress an important part of a most wonderful approach to intellectual and emotional health. Perhaps I should not have used the word “educate”, instead of words like sharing and informing, because I do have so much to share of what I had learned – and experienced – over fifty three years.

    First of all, not once did I suggest that anyone should try and forgive or “love” the person who had hurt them, by “understanding” their past. I admit it could perhaps have come across like that, but that would be totally contraindicative to what I meant. Having been hurt by a spouse, you start searching for answers and you come across this blog. You find support and understanding, empathy and sympathy. Great ! This may bring up feelings and you start to cry. Great ! You are on a journey towards health.

    Do you feel immense anger? Say it, talk it, scream it. Beat the pillow or mattress ! Feel a total hate for him/her? Say it, talk it, scream it. Beat the pillow or mattress. Feel like blowing your ex away? Ditto. Ditto. Ditto. It’s great to have someone there who sits for you by just listening.
    Perhaps you are seeing a psychologist who will explain things to you. Perhaps you are on medication. You are on a road towards health that involves expressing your hurt, pain and feelings. This may go on for days, weeks, months or years. Even five or ten years or longer. You will find yourself feeling a lot better as you continue on this road. So far…..Great !

    If you were hurt a week ago, that is your past ! You are feeling your pain from your past.

    What can happen however, is that you may reach a point where you do not cry any more. You may have in the meantime shut down certain basic human needs, such as the need for closeness
    and intimacy, joy and pleasure (Believe me I have seen this uncountable times. Really !) You may decide at that point that you “do not need men in your life” or you have found a guru, joined
    a cult, started drinking more alcohol, taking more pain pills, smoking marijuana or even doing hard drugs. Human qualities such as joy, pleasure, fun, laughter, dancing, intimacy may have left you altogether. Your body may be wracked with joint pains, such as with fibromyalgia and other diseases.

    This is the point at which heavy pains from your earlier past is knocking. Your intellectual brain has mercifully reduced your ability to feel anything at all, in order to keep you unaware of those very early traumas, because they are massive. And they do exist ! Only a fool will deny that.
    The evidence is out and is growing daily. You will now be living in that twilight zone of being half a human or less. You will be an unfeeling parent to your children and grand children, because you have forgotten what it is to be a child, and you will propagate neurosis, thereby continuing the vicious circle.

    If only the message of preventing neurosis is learned, then I am happy. The crying-in-arms approach, or what is called kangaroo mothering, (Google it), doing away with the ignorance of old wives’ tales, trusting in the beauty and love of a baby or infant, sensing their vulnerability, meeting all of their needs, teaching them words that describe feelings and emotions. Stop the constant admonishing, the desire to discipline. Pass such knowledge on to your son or daughter.

    1. Patrick, ,

      In many ways I understand what you are saying. It is the past and this is the here and now. I have immense pain that I feel everyday but I know I did the right thing. Forgiveness is an amazing refuge and depository for going forward, I fully understand the CD individuals early history, I still love them and forgive them, I also pray for their souls and enlightenment and the pain is very real. But never again will I accept being treated with disrespect and be the receptacle of their garbage along with the package deals of baggage they refuse to deal with. There are no winners.

      One thing to keep in mind we are all growing older and with that more aches and pains. It may be difficult to determine who, what, why, when and so much more is the real cause of our pain. But being who I am and pro-active in my health care I know exactly most of the time what the cause of my pain is coming from.

      You seem to have some bright ideas that a genre of individuals might be interested in. Perhaps with all this acquired knowledge the many would be best served if you hung out a shingle for perhaps, Life Coaching in this area of treatment and education in emotional and intellectual growth you subscribe to.

      With all your knowledge and life experiences you might make a fairly good go at it and perhaps in your spare time write a book on the subject you feel is so important for people to know. Perhaps, go to the schools or get involved in inner city programs for youths and mentor individuals that need someone to talk with. I know there is a great need for volunteers that want to reach out and help and especially listen and have answers and solutions for troubled individuals.

      I have many days of peace and joy and tranquility, and God is good, with God I never feel alone and now my little rescue dog, a pesky bundle of joy and laughter. I see these as the best days of my life going forward, I have many memories that will last me a lifetime. I do not know what the future will bring, sure I have ups and downs and lets face it it is downward from here but I can sure have one good sled ride on the way down.

      Yes, I may revisit earlier days of my life, but only the good times for me, its bad enough thinking of revisiting my past in the form of a nursing home. Being spoon feed wearing a bib and dribbling , being pushed in a wheelchair, I suppose I could request a buggy, diapers and all that early trauma stuff coming up, oh pain and misery compared to the comfort of the womb. Perhaps, I can have my time of acting out the terrible two’s that I missed and be the brat most CD’s were and I can blame it on dementia and then fantasize about the perfect world of Per Pan. Oh, what it will be like to be born again into a perfect world, I guess that would be like heaven!

      Really Patrick if you have ideas and ways you think you can help these individuals volunteer, volunteer, go into the prisons and speak with the individuals you think you can help. Start your own blog and solicit the CD ‘s and potential parents offer them all this information you feel can be of help to their sick, twisted. and perverted thinking. If you think it may help find a way to teach new parents or unwed mothers of your thoughts and knowledge.

      Blessings and good luck

      1. Thank you Btov,
        What you have suggested has been tried by many people in many different ways. However, the ignorance, denial and defensive mechanisms of people have resulted in no avail at all.

        Many letters have been written by many people to those trained in mainstream medicine, without as much as a reply. A wonderful healing therapy has been offered to the prison authorities — free of charge — which was rejected. There is a blog that offers immense insights and the science of fifty years of research and development. Links to this blog get ignored by most.

        It does seem as if Big Pharma rules the roost, “advising” mainstream medicine of the need to medicate. Also, “talk therapy” such as CBT, are offered to people who are suffering. Further, ignorance, denial and the refusal of those who purport to help sufferers, maintain the status quo, ensuring continuous suffering.

        Instead of treating adult neurotics, why don’t we simply prevent it by educating parents in the proper way to allow babies, infants and teenagers to express their painful emotions and feelings? Why don’t we accept the wonderful and healing approach for children, that was initiated by A. S. Neill of the school Summerhill, in 1921 ? ( I posted a link to the movie about this school).

        Why don’t we accept the wonderful reality of the crying-in-arms approach? Why don’t we rid ourselves of the distrust we have about babies and infants, instead of knowing that they are incredibly loving, vulnerable and totally feeling creatures, allowing them to cry their pain out, (in the arms of a loving caretaker) which they experienced during the period of gestation in the womb? Try to tell this to people and they react strongly, citing ideas of babies who are deliberate and manipulating, etc. I am really not surprised by the reaction I have received from other bloggers on this website.

        We have to start somewhere, and if I can just make as many people as possible, aware of the fact that babies, infants, teenagers and even adults are forever being robbed of the ability to express their deepest hurts, by those who tend to advise and analyse, and who want to cheer people up who are hurting badly.

        Remember…… present events of abuse, trigger very early feelings of needs that were not met, resulting in adults who are either neurotic or psychotic.

        Instead, what we find, is a total denial of these realities. People who are in pain want magic, or quick fixes. “Magic” can be almost anything that is quick and easy, and that will ameliorate the pain for the moment.

        1. Patrick,

          Why is it so important for you to override Dr.Simon’s moderating comments on his own blog? I think most forum members here both understand AND feel what you are trying to convey.

          Your posts indicate that you and Janov’s theories have been completely rejected here — with rare exception nobody objects or disagrees with your ‘crying in arms’ approach to parenting babies and toddlers. You have received zero or very scant opposition to that point.

          Your insistence that young children are unable to manipulate is where you are getting resistance. Some children have meltdowns because they aren’t getting what they ‘want’ This doesn’t necessarily equate to crying for lack of attention, affection or other basic needs. They are feeling and expressing a strong desire to control through force of temper.

          If a parent isn’t hip to discerning the difference between controlling fits of temper and tears of sorrow sadness, and gently addressing it, the parent is not guiding the child, but indulging the child’s whims. Everybody suffers. Society at large suffers at the hands of the over indulged.

          You might be over generalizing from the specifics of your own experience. You had an emotionally impoverished early childhood. You weren’t allowed to cry when your basic needs for attention and affection went unheeded. You became neurotically repressed, as a consequence.

          Understand that you are describing your own experiences and ask yourself why it is so important to ‘educate’ others who may have had different or varying beginnings. And further to that, why it is so important for you to ‘win’?

          1. Kudos. LindaO.
            Patrick seems hell-bent on proselytizing for the point of view that everyone is neurotic. We already know where that leads. And his own behavior shows that this is not true. Nevertheless, he careens on… where are the brakes for this train?

  5. Maybe the biggest indicator for the degree of character disturbance is the degree to which someone is ready to reflect and to accept their mistakes.

    For most conscientious ones, one just needs to hint, and they will do themselves in by taking all the fault where there was none. My mother is one such person. They are most wonderful people when in a nice family.

    For many people falling in a range, one just need to reasonably argue a bit, and they will agree and try to amend their behavior in future. A subset of these people won’t admin openly, but they will amend their behavior anyways. My father is a mild case, but he probably got spoiled by my mother.

    For people that are toward the character disturbed end, one simply cannot do anything. These people will try to get away by denying their wrongdoing, or blaming others, picking out something else to divert focus, and after sometime play with others memory (gaslighting). I think, gaslighting is their ultimate psychological weapon. My wife is one such person.

    My wife tries projecting herself as victim in front of others, and attempts to mix past events to come up with her own versions. I had played a part role by enabling her behavior, but mostly I was not wise enough to deal with wicked people. Fortunately, I met a counselor alone several times and all she did was listen me out patiently and nothing more. Then, I had to disengage due to relocating to another city. But, meeting with counselor validated my experiences. Few months later I read In Sheeps Clothing, that not only validated me, but also explained the important question “why would one do something like that”. Since then, it has been journey away from wife, and toward peace. There are few sad pieces, like kid, old good times, and general thinking of what could have been. Still it is journey forward, and hopefully I will be better off with CD out of my life. It is long sad process, cutting off ties one by one (from my side, as there were never mutual ties to start with).

    1. Hi Andy,

      It is very difficult to start over, mine encompassed 65% of my life. But then I had to decide would I even be able to make it, in the end he became so disturbed. I tend to want, like you, to think of the good times and what could had been. So many wasted opportunities to build friendships, love and strength. The purposeful loving goal of nurturing one another instead of tearing one down. And now to start over. Yes, what a journey.

      Coming here is not always easy for the fact of the sorrow that bring others here and the sad stories and many so horror filled And it takes the goodness within the posters here to uplift the needy who come here battered and bruised looking for answers and a kind word. This is not an easy thing to do.

      Its easy for me to see from what you express that you will be better off without her just as easily you could see I am better off without him. But it is very difficult and at times a very lonely road. It is very sad and at times a long process of cutting ties and the grief can become unbearable. However, all this is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, the gas lighting is the worst and the head games, I too, was not wise that one especially my mate would be playing with my head in such a way and I believe it is Evil intent.

      Thank you for your post it helped me feel not so alone. Many times this is my only refuge beside my faith that provides comfort, truth and validation without anyone wanting something from me or judging. I had a rough night. Take very good care.

    2. Andy, I feel so bad that you have had and are having such a hard time with your wife. It’s probably harder for a man to deal with CD, because women, unfortunately, receive automatic sympathy from a culture that hasn’t come to grips with the ways in which women express lack of character. It’s probably more stealthy, don’t you think?

      I’ve been targeted by a male P. and that was awful in its way. I also have peripheral involvement with two highly disordered women. Just got an email from one. Right now this one is on a bit of a charm offensive, trying to convince me she is warm and sensitive.

      At the same time she is trying to drum up sympathy, in the most imbecilic way imaginable. I get these emails and have learned I have to be philosophical about them, realize she can be a thorn in my side, or I can respond in a grey rock way — not cold, but very constrained, sympathy wise.

      But I am not her husband, former husband, don’t have to be in a relationship with her, like you do with your ex or soon to be ex.

      Still….as little a bond as there ever was between us (her choice) she has hurt me in the past, because I didn’t understand how empty, at core, she is.

      She can’t hurt me anymore. Only human beings can hurt me. And, unfortunately, for reasons I can’t quite understand, the human part of that being, isn’t there.

      1. LisaO,
        Agree w.r.t. gender difference. My take will be…

        There certainly is some gender difference, but mostly originating from bringing up child and culture that we live in. When born, girl child is as aggressive and as selfish as boy child. As they grow, they are taught different value system. And, that may result in different degree and incidence of character disturbance. However, once a person grows up to be deficient in character, he/she is going to be problem irrespective of gender. The deficiency in character is expressed differently depending upon gender. Still it may be a mistake to say a women is more covert only because of innate built-up or gender based different value system. It may just be more efficient for her to go about her goal in covert way given the cultural expectations for a women.
        Even an assertive (equitable, non-aggressive) man will certainly have harder time in dealing with CD woman. It is simply harder to see the truth, past denser fog of covert aggression, when looking through opaque cultural lenses.
        So, yes, a men certainly has tougher time in dealing with CD women, but he is usually groomed to grow a thick skin. 😉

        Anyways, selfishness and aggression in themselves are fine. Problem is when they are unconstrained. And, that problem is gender neutral.

    3. Thanks BTOV, LisaO. Appreciate your comments.

      All in all, we have our own personal variations, but bottomline is that we simply ran into a super-selfish person who did not care a bit about anyone else including significant other.

      1. Thanks for the interesting discussion! I like the conclusion that selfishness is the essential problem. I’m dealing with two hurtful people whose behaviour is selfish and who are not amenable to change. One is a man, the other a woman, and I am surprised at how similar their behaviour is.

        Both can be charming and both are ruthless when it comes to anybody who gets in their way. Their aggression is mainly covert, but openly aggressive when required. It took me a long time to realise I was always anxious around both of them because of an unstated threat, hanging around like a bad smell in the air, that ‘unless you do what I want, there’ll be hell to pay.’

        Both can easily get people off-side, are hollow at the core, strongly narcissistic and manipulative and blame other people for any problems. I used to think gender mattered more, and maybe it does in ways I can’t see, but I tend to think now that these essential behaviours involving selfishness, aggression and narcissism are more important.

        It’s helping me here to see these behaviours as objectively as possible. Dr Simon’s very clear explanations are really useful, as the more clinical I can be, the more able I am to grasp my reactions. I can then work out effective ways of dealing with them.

    4. Gaslighting – my STBX (soon to be ex) uses gaslighting as one of his head games. Fortunately I’ve read articles of Dr. Simon’s on the topic, and have seen the movie, Gaslight (1944) that I’m aware of what he’s doing. It used to be that I’d argue with him and defend myself, but now I realize why would I defend myself to him anyway? I know what I am and have done. He’s toying with me. The less contact I have with the crazy bastard the better off I am. I am striving for the least contact with him as possible. The less contact the less “issues”.
      Through reading the posts of others I am learning so much helpful advice. I think the best advice I can give to anyone dealing with a CD person is to get away, disengage and go live your life without that soul sucking person.
      Linda

  6. Dr. Simon,

    With all respect, may I implore you to directly answer me on this following statement about the human condition. I really and sincerely would love to have your opinions about whether you agree or not: (You do not have to post it, but please answer me)

    ”Mankind is bound hand and foot by an insidious affliction. It is the most intangible, devastating, and widespread of diseases. It is a physiologic, biologic state, yet it cannot be eliminated through diets, exercise, meditation, virtuous behaviour, drugs or surgery. It has no single location. Indeed, it is the only illness found virtually everywhere in the body and brain. Yet nearly everyone is unaware of it. Doctors who treat it are not sure what to look for and do not even agree on its existence.
    It emanates so many symptoms that it looks like hundreds of diseases instead of one.

    The disease is neurosis.

    The maladies conventionally grouped within the term “mental illness” are in fact one biologic disease – a wound of the entire system. With both psycho logic and physical Pain at its core. Normally, pain is a simple matter; we feel it, we know it hurts, we know where it is and usually we know why it is there. But the pains from our earliest childhood are total mysteries even though we carry those Pains around.

    No one recognises them or acknowledges them. Yet we see their effects every day in the way we live, in our relationships, in our symptoms, and in our social adjustment. For most of us it is difficult to imagine that events of so long ago could still have a hold on us, but they do.

    This disease gets it start even as we get our start in life. But rather than just describe it, there is a more precise description of neurosis than has been made before. This affliction, for all its apparently complex symptoms, usually has a simple history . We are hurt when we are least equipped to deal with it – during early development.

    The hurt, too much to integrate, is buried and lingers like a perpetual virus to disturb our lives and make us suffer inordinately as adults. When we see how neurosis is generated we see more clearly how to treat it. Fortunately, we have within us at al times the means with which to cure ourselves.

    The antidote is the very feelings which, repressed, made us sick.

    Fifty years of testing theory against clinical practice as enabled us to establish much more precise guidelines for effective psychotherapy, thus helping to retrieve that profession from the unsystematic, unscientific disarray into which it has fallen. As part of this, we have established methods which effectively deal with measure therapeutic improvement and which is forming a scientific definition of improvement and health.

    Since neurosis is a malady that alters biology, any real treatment must be capable of changing that biology again. We have observed remarkable changes in the physical systems of our patients.

    “An important result of our work has been a better understanding of many human functions, particularly those of the brain. We have learnt enough about how our brain develops in our lifetime to hypothesize how it evolved in the species over millennia. It is the ability to become unconscious that allowed men and women to survive the untold agonies of their past, just as it saves each of us early in our own lives. The unconscious is not a vague psychological concept but a reality of our brains and bodies. Just as it first rescues us, it may also kill us, both as individuals and as a species”

  7. Correction: ….. “clinical practice has enabled us to establish”

    Also: “We have established measures which effectively measure therapeutic improvements”

    1. Patrick,

      I hope you have read Dr. Simons books, all three. I would suggest even reading them a third or fourth time, I know it helped me. Almost, all the answers are there, if you can’t find them there take time to read through the archives, I will pray that you hopefully, stumble upon the answer, it is there, I found it. It’s best that you find it for yourself though. Blessings

      1. Thank you BTOV,
        I have read hundreds of books, and I could write an Encyclopaedia of information on the human condition. Want to know something? All of that knowledge does not bring you one step closer to being cured of your neurosis, or being a better parent or spouse. It will not bring any relieve when you find yourself suffering from high blood pressure at the age of twenty five, or with asthma, epilepsy or some other serious disease. Yes, epilepsy too. The proof is there.

        Btw, did you open the link to the movie about Summerhill school, where children are free to be themselves? Did you read what Dr. Aletha Solter had to say about letting babies cry in your arms? Have you ever read any book or article that tells you we are actually most beautiful creatures, provided there has been no interference from neurotic adults as we grow up? Would you believe that when you read it?

        1. Quoting our LisaO: “[Patrick,]Why is it so important for you to override Dr.Simon’s moderating comments on his own blog?”

  8. Christine, I believe you are character disordered too.

    We cannot teach other how to feel or love. But being aware that you lack certain abilities and that your thinking is skewed is a huge positive in learning to put on the brakes as Dr. Simon calls it and course correct or thought correct.

    I am not character disturbed or disordered but we all have choices and can focus on things we CAN change.

    So perhaps you are not able to love like others but there are those who do not use their compassion responsibly who fare better when they put on the brakes as well.

    We all have to do the best with what we have. They fact that your recognize your limitations will allow you to deal with them.

    I do not envy your position but I respect your honesty.

    1. Evelyn, thanks for your response. I agree we all have choices and can focus on things we CAN change. I am happy that we have free will and can choose how we think and behave. I have to do the best with what I have. I hope that over time I can retrain my brain to think differently and more realistically.

      1. It’s great, Christine, you have decided to get more honest with yourself. Self-honesty about things that matter has a huge power.

  9. BTOV,

    I only just read your response before LisaO’s. You asked what kinds of reading material I’m after and even commented there is plenty of that throughout the comments. I’ve read some older articles and parts of comment sections at times, even found a few references(Power of Story by Jim Loehr and Dangerous Instincts by Mary Ellen O’Toole). Unfortunately I can’t be bothered to go through every comment section thoroughly, at least currently.

    Thanks for recommending de Becker’s book. Recall Dr Simon has mentioned it many, many times. Somehow never gotten around to it, like wth. Gotta make up for it.

    Someone also mentioned Marc MacYoung and I’ve been on his site many, many times now.

    As for what to read, I’d appreciate it a lot if you could recommend something on personal safety or psychological health overall.

    Books on spiritual matters are also okay, as long as they’re not bricks. I think I’d get discouraged trying to read a huge book right away.

    1. Timothy,

      I haven’t read any of the names you listed and will jot them down to check out for myself. I just spent an hour on a post to you about books. I went to google a name and lost everything. I plan on reading through the archives some more and when I come across the books and web sites referenced by other posters in the past I will write them down. I had originally thought of it but got lazy.

      I may send you some book titles which are Christian in nature but you are entitled to take from them for what is of benefit to you and leave the rest. One in particular that I picked up in a Thrift store was Battlefield for the Mind by Joyce Miller. I had difficulty dealing with fear and in reading this book wherever I inserted CD for devil or evil it became very easy for me to deal with.

      A must read is People of the Lie by Scott Peck and by Dr. Peck A Road Less Traveled and a Road Less Traveled and Beyond. In fact I have enjoyed all Dr. Pecks writings.

      An excellent book on divorcing the CD is called Splitting by:Eddy In fact I heard all his books are good.

      Dark Souls by: Sarah Strudwick
      The Abusive Personality by Donal Dutton
      Abnormal Behavior and Personality by: Million
      Mastering the Mind by: Million

      There is a course you can take called Refuse to Be a Victim which I found very beneficial.

      There is a huge genre of reads out there which we can in turn use to our advantage to understand the twisted thinking of CD to protect ourselves, unfortunate but true. Not to forget that is what this site does too.

      Covert Persuasion by: Kevin Hogan

      I am not a good game player, at least not mind games and the CD makes the rules up as they go along, but when we learn the games and the rules they play by and refuse to play the game and rather have them engage in the Game of Life for a lack of a better term they have to tuck tail and think of how to play dirty or find another victim.

      For now I hope this has been of help to you and I will get back to you soon on some more reads.

      1. Timothy,

        Perhaps others have recommended her books but Melody Beattie is very good and I have most of her books. I would classify her as self-help but spiritual too. I will give you a whole slew of reading material which is my preferred entertainment. In the morning I get a daily Christian message from In Touch Ministries with Dr. Charles Stanley which I try to start my day out with, it is usually very consoling and inspiring considering all the negativity going on in the world.

        In my in box was another notice of a sale at Thrift Books.com, you may want to check them out. They have 3.99 sales with free shipping on a small purchase. I have bought many books from them, especially copies of ones I know are good and give them out.

    2. Thanks, BTOV, for references and also plenty of thanks for going the extra mile! Very appreciated.

      I don’t mind reading Christian-themed philosophy. I’ve read a few books leaning towards Hinduism(I recommended them to Andy, when he stated he could read something spiritual) and one about Zen Buddhism. Then there are a few ones by sages, who believe abolishing all belief systems is the way to go(which I think is a little bit extreme) and apparently think that belief systems automatically divide people and make them violent(wtf?), but have good points on self-observing.

      Life is a really complex thing. How many times have I wished it would be simpler? Especially with some folks causing grief left and right, I really wish it would. I agree with LisaO and Suzi in that we don’t need loads of reductionist cynicism. Funny how there’s a phrase “cynical manipulator”.

      Once again, BTOV, thank you. I laud you for your willingness to help.

  10. Back to subject of the continuum. This is something I am dealing with right now. One of the CD’s I am dealing with is pretty hollow but there is a lot of anxiety there. The narcissism seems to have arisen out of that, or arisen alongside that. The individual is, generally speaking, principled enough to be successful, in social, financial and immediate family ways.

    Her insensitivity, so difficult to deal with, is due to a strange shallowness, a lack of curiosity about anything that doesn’t have personal impact. Another ‘tell’ that she is narcissistic is her constant referral to not a dislike of a great many people, but an, “I just don’t respect them.” She isn’t stupid, per se, but is so incredibly ignorant and out to make an impression, she may as well be.

    The other tell is words never match with deeds. Never.

    The other person (and I have to change up details here to protect my identity) is my sister in law. It turns out my brother who has his own spectrum problems married a woman who has to be the center of attention….always. And I mean always. She has managed to hoodwink my bro for years. I have watched him almost physically shrink in the past decade and wondered why, hoping it wasn’t her. When her own sister’s son got married, a few months ago, she tried to have the wedding date, that involved the coordinating of many friends and relatives changed, to fit her schedule.

    She wanted the wedding to accommodate her plans, even after it was carefully explained to her that if she was accommodated, at least ten people wouldn’t be able to make it, plus the bride and groom would have difficulties changing their plans to her preferred date. This was FINE with her. She didn’t back down. There was no bitterness. She just chirpily informed them that her sports activities had to take precedence so she wouldn’t be there.

    Sooooo….I made a mental note and wondered if I should bring it up with brother as yet another red flag of a seriously and aggressively selfish person. And one, btw, who can’t be reasoned with. But as he wasn’t sharing what he had been going through with her, I kept quiet. We had talked a bit about her, in the past, but he wasn’t opening up completely and I wasn’t going to push him.

    He decided, with my help, to leave her a while back. She is histrionic. This is what threw me. I didn’t know much about this disorder. It looks A LOT like narcissism but lacks some of the key symptoms. Not malicious, necessarily and not manipulative, necessarily.

    My s-I-l:

    Wants what she wants and rigidly opposes opposition

    Must be the centre of attention

    Vivacious initial presentation, but tends to, even on first meeting, make somewhat inappropriate comments. Rude but associates and acquaintances overlook it because she always manages and must be the life of the party.

    Ignores, interrupts constantly. Swings conversation back to herself

    Has no brakes, socially

    Makes fairly frequent embarrassing and lewd sexual comments

    Is confident to the point of WTF?

    Very curvaceous. Big hair, big talk, flirtatious. Men very attracted to her

    Very vague. Speech devoid of meaningful analytical contact.

    Shallow, talks off the top of her head. Is leading expert on everything. (Again, to garner attention).

    If she can’t get positive attention she will pick pick pick until she gets negative attention from significant other.

    Constant use of the term, ” but I mean well!”

    Anyway, brother is DONE.

    Unfortunately, although sil isn’t generally, ‘mean,’ in the strictest sense of the word, she cannot stand to ‘lose.’ She is unusually competitive. I am suggesting he frame all future discussions with her as simple problems of compatability. It’s in his own best interests, to do so. But if her histrionic personality is co-morbid with narcissism, he is going to have a very tough time, divorcing her. Her ego will not let him go without delivering some kind of a body blow…I think. Time will tell and also provide a litmus test for where she is on the narcissism continuum.

    1. LisaO,

      Oh, My, lots of prayers, you know me, good thing your brother has you. All I can say I hope you’ve got an in with the local drugstore on Pepto Bismol Can I ask who is the one filing?

  11. Hi Btov,

    Thanks so much. Don’t know who is filing exactly. Am not aware of how the whole process works. Haven’t been through it, thank God.

    I do know that she (claims she ) is miserable and he
    chose to move out…so…that’s kind of key.

    All I know is if I never have to sit through another conversation (monologue) with her, it will be too soon. People who love to hear themselves talk can be interesting. It does happen. But it’s amazing how that trait and being boring seem to go together.

  12. For now, If it can seem to be my idea the decision to D or my idea for him to M-O, I will save face and also I will be, made to feel in my own mind the one in control of the shots in discarding first. Let me blame everything on him in that regard. If cautious of your posts why not change your user name in this.

  13. Btov,

    You are bang on. I don’t know if anything can be done to change her perception of what is happening. Sure don’t like to think of her being in pain though. There is way more to this whole story than I have divulged and have altered details enough that nobody will likely suspect.

    Anyhoo…loading up on the tums!

    1. LisaO,

      I will reread your post and see if there is anything I can read between the lines shall we say the cat and the dog. No children and still going on after almost 5. Their is a whole slew of unbelievable maneuvers and alterations of behaviors when the apple cart is disturbed, just think what happens when the cart is overturned and the apples start rolling. There are ways though from the tells to make the incident and transition less devastating, less bruises to say the least.

      Had some difficult pain days with all the weather changing. I hope you are well and things don’t take to much of a toll on you.

      1. FYI
        For all those going through a Divorce or are thinking of it there is a great book by : Attorney Bill EDDY called “Splitting”

        I haven’t read all his books which I understand are excellent, they focus on divorcing difficult people and taking care of you. I still plan to buy his other books.

        I wished the resources that are out there today and all the information would would had been available for me, it would had made things so much easier on me. I had no idea, I knew it would be bad but I had no conception on how bad it would get. Plan and expect anything. Document and get everything in writing. It usually gets worse once the gig is up.

        My prayers and blessings to all on this endeavor.

      2. Thanks Btov,

        You’re a great help. All that life and other experience has obviously given you lots to draw on!

        I am so lucky that I haven’t gone through an ugly divorce. I don’t think I would have coped very well….at all. I had a short relationship with a fellow a couple of decades ago who had begun the separation process just before I met him. And it was beyond ugly. It ‘s the ongoing ‘Never Ending Story’ that draws the ‘reader’ right into the drama, too. Before you know it you become part of the narrative.

        I want to avoid this with bro and his spouse.

        Bad night last night. Ouch Ouch. Didn’t get to sleep until 3:00 am. Am used to it though and roll with the invisible punches! But I have soreness. You have pain. That’s a whole different kettle of fish. So sorry you have that to deal with. Will say a prayer for you, too!!

        1. LisaO, I was really struck by your comment that, ‘before you know it you are part of the narrative.’ It reminded me of when I became ‘part of the narrative’ of somebody else’s divorce. The ugliness was like a vortex into which I was drawn. I shudder just thinking back on it.

          But now I see how neurotic I was and overly conscientious, wanting to help, and ended up taking on the burden of other people’s problems. I think that’s what selfish people do. They draw others into their world and have them rushing around sorting out the problems they won’t or can’t fix.

          The important thing for me now is to concentrate on my own life and make it bigger than theirs. I don’t know quite what I mean by that. Maybe it’s that selfish people have such big personalities. Look at how big your SIL is! Even on this blog, she is enormous!! Such people fill up the room and take up so much oxygen. I want to fill up my room, and breathe my own air, live my life rather than theirs, without becoming selfish and uncaring.

          1. Thanks Stella,

            Was drawn right into the unfolding plot of another party’s divorce, too. In the end, the fellow wanted me to testify, in court, that his wife was an unfit parent.

            She was a lousy wife (I guess?), but seemed like a perfectly good mother, to me. So, I refused to testify on his behalf, against her. Had I, he could have gained sole custody of his children, enabling him to spirit them out of the country. This was a while back.

            Man, was he angry??? Hoooo…boy.

            The whole long drawn out STUPID process, hijacked my brain.

            And yes, CD’s do have big personalities. Big in chaos, confusion, hogging attention and creating drama, with a capital ‘D’. My sil is like an excitable screechy colourful bird. As soon as attention is off her, (momentarily. These moments are rare) she goes into a dormant phase. If nobody’s looking, it’s like she’s not there.

            Narcissists, try to gain the upper hand by confusing people. At least that seems like part of their strategy. I guess they can be compared to birds of paradise, dazzling potential mates with super weird visual displays and crazy assed dances.

            When I’ve seen these guys on nature documentaries, I can never quite figure out if the quiet little brown females are attracted to the males or not. They seem to be shocked into a trance, confused half to death.

            One minute they’re looking at another bird and the next minute the male’s head tucks in, and they are looking at something that appears to be a small alien spacecraft.

          2. LisaO, I laughed thinking about narcissists as birds of paradise. I always think of laughter as healthy, as it allows the mind to expand, and not be so caught up in the negatives. So warmest thanks to you for making me laugh. You also helped me think differently about the affect upon me of narcissistic displays in human beings, which I wrote about below. Thanks for that too. This blog has helped me so much!

  14. I am tired of giving up. I think the worst part of my own experience/s is knowing that no matter what I say, I will not be believed. Or the things I bring to attention are then turned back around, twisted, then used against me. Sometimes it all seems futile. I ask myself “Why should I care?” or say “They really don’t know who I am, yet they will not even give me a chance.” I am slowly starting to realize that people will always follow those who are the most convincing. People are attracted to others “representation” of themselves. That, I believe is what made Ronald Reagan such a popular president. (I’m not trying to be political here, I just couldn’t think of a better example is all.) And he is still revered and hailed today as the republican party’s “hero” and in some sense “America’s Hero.” He helped to reunite Germany with the rest of Europe and helped bring about the end of the “Cold War”. But he is also known for the “Iran Contra” controversy which casts him in a more negative light. The interesting part to me about his legacy is that ultimately the Iran Contra debacle was blamed on Ollie North, and the credit for the fall of the Soviet Union lies almost single-handedly with President Reagan. I think what I’m trying to say is that no matter how honorable, or a person of high moral character we think we are, we all have those “skeletons”, “hiccups”, or majorly life altering catastrophes in our past’s where the blame or fault lies squarely with us, and we cannot “pass the buck”. In other words, I firmly believe that all human beings are either consciously or subconsciously managing other people’s impression of us, Some have just mastered the art, and I think those are the true manipulators in life we should all watch for. Be careful of people who don’t admit to shortcomings, or outright character flaws. Maybe this post sparks a healthy discussion. Looking forward to it. Have a great day all.

    1. Shaun,

      Sorry to hear about your troubles.

      As far as people being heroic in some contexts and not so much in others, it is surprising how much inconsistency we all display. And even those who aren’t CD, project their personalities to an astounding degree. We just aren’t generally aware of it. There is a feedback between the ‘soul’ and what it projects, (like personality and character) that is dynamic with most and more rigid in others.

      Your point about the presidents assumes that they are in control of all the agencies and sub-agencies, of the country.

      I’ll try not to be too political but want to draw your attention to the fact that presidents are often public whipping boys for interests, behind the scenes, over which they have zero control.

      The people with the most power in any given situation are those who have the most accurate information about it and access to funds that don’t have to be accounted for.

      In the interpersonal realm so many of us have been manipulated by people who control information. We haven’t had access to accurate info. It shaped how we responded to them and others, as a result.

      It doesn’t stop at the interpersonal, so I always cut leaders who are more figureheads than anything, a LOT of slack.

    2. Shaun,
      People who know you, who are your friends, will most likely know who to believe and what to believe. Yes, I know how it feels to be lied about. My some day to be ex filed court petitions saying I’m mentally ill, have tried to run him off the road, have threatened him with a gun, that I’m hostile and out of control, etc., in an effort to embarrass me at my workplace (I work in a courthouse where all employees can look at any file.) I just can’t worry about it. Nothing you can do to shut someone else’s mouth.
      Linda

  15. Shaun said: “I think the worst part of my own experience/s is knowing that no matter what I say, I will not be believed.”

    That’s called reaping what you sow. Are you ready to change?

  16. I’m having some trouble. Is this former friend messing with my head? And WHY am I allowing myself to be treated this way? I don’t USUALLY act like this.

    I believe that she and I have attachment disorders, with her being a dismissive avoidant and me being a pre-occupied anxious person. Mind you, I haven’t had these feelings “activated” for about 15 years. I’m a married woman, no children, early 30’s, she a married woman with children, early 40’s.

    We meet in a professional setting and I am instantly drawn to her, having an immediate emotional connection that I have never had to another female. I reach out her on Facebook, shower her with compliments and adoration and she agrees to build a friendship with me. Some red flags are she has no one else to hang out with (despite an array of surface qualities and working with a lot of women and two different offices, a church going woman, involved with her child in a sports capacity, etc.) and she immediately puts up walls/boundaries.

    She doesn’t do technology as a form of communication (but she does, as I later find out). She doesn’t like to talk on the phone (but she does with other friends, as I later find out, albiet not too much). She characterizes herself as a “bad friend” (which makes me question why she reached out to me in the first place).

    In the beginning of the “friendship”, I feel like I’m chasing after her. The only efforts she makes are when I’m leaving the friendship. In correspondence, she literally says nothing about herself, not even the highlights (like I’m married, have a son, etc.) and I think I’m dragging her into a “friendship”, which I do not want. I thank her for her time (although she never gives me much) with the intent of not contacting her anymore. Bam! She reaches out to me, agrees to hangout the next day, and we get along well. However, something never feels right to me. She’s cold and distant during our lapses of hanging out (she only wants to hang out once a month and doesn’t communicate with me during this time). My anxious/pre-occupied attachment issues are activated, but also, I don’t like the way it feels. Again, I leave the friendship, always feeling the need to explain why and thank her for her time. I block her on my cell phone and all social media, ask her not to contact me, but I forget to block her on email.
    She emails me, turning it around on me:
    I can be a friend to you, if you don’t rush me. I can’t offer you much of my time. Just two years ago I had to get rid of a lot of toxic friends. My friends are lucky if they get to see me, 2-3x’s per year, if THEY are lucky. The ball is in your court, if you can HANDLE this type of friendship, then I’m in. Let me know.

    I feel awful and agree to this once a month new friendship, with absolutely no contact in between this time, and tell her that I’m in as well.
    “No, don’t answer yet. Take your time.” She had just told me she was waiting on my answer. I sink to my lowest level and say “please?”
    She tells me she has to get ready for bed, as it takes her an hour.
    Again, I tell her please. She replies with “sure.” And then a few minutes later, again, tells me I won’t hear from her until the day before we hang out.
    I took this personally at first, but after reading up on avoidants, I now know they don’t like serious discussions, especially those with any emotion.

    Our hang-outs have to be scheduled, usually a month ahead, to just walk around the mall. Mind you, we work down the street from one another, have the same three-day weekends, lunch times, time off, etc. The only time she’s willing to meet in a week time span, is that very first time (the next day) as I’m walking away from the “friendship.” I am now obsessing over how strange this feels. I catch her in white lie to get out of texting conversations with me (usually to plan a hang-out) and I feel awful.
    Yet it makes no sense.
    She comes from 45 minutes away to hang out with me once a month, yet has friends closer to him who miss her and do want to hang out with her, but she doesn’t want to talk to me in between and even lies to NOT text me. However, when she wants to text, usually during the work day, the day before hanging out, we text back and forth like BFF’s.
    My husband told me “take the genders away and it seems like a man who is having an affair with a woman, 45 minutes away, but the woman doesn’t know he’s married.”

    We go to the movies and I apologize to her for unfriending her and making assumptions (I’m also a people-pleaser) and she snaps at me. I had NOT apologized before this. We’re walking around in a mall at this point- with people around us- and she lowers her voice so they don’t hear her and says through practically gnashed teeth: You. Need. To. Stop. Apologizing. Ugh!
    And then she shakes her head like she’s shaking it off and her voice returns to normal and she asks me “so how was your weekend?”
    The shift in personality kinda freaks me out, as there was definite anger there.

    Each time we hang out, I have to contact her. She told me as much. “You want to see me? Invite me somewhere.”
    Or “All of my other family and friends know if they wanna see me, to invite me to lunch or shopping, and they understand me.”

    I am always the one reaching out, I am always the one attempting to start communication. If I even say hello to her, she says “hi, I’m good, how about we go shopping and lunch? I’ll see you on this date (usually a month away).”

    The time between our last hang-out, was 5 weeks. During this time, I finally decide I’m going to text her hello. It had been 2.5-3 weeks since I had last communicated with her.

    I text her “hi, how was your weekend?”

    She replies with white lies, unprompted. “Hi, my laptop took a sh-t and my tablet is so slow. I’m good. So how about we meet at noon in 2.5 weeks from now. We can walk around the mall.” She’s lying and I feel stupid. She was on Facebook, because she and I were on at the same time. At this point, I feel done. I’ve idealized and idolized her, she’s aware of all of my feelings and what this means to me (I haven’t had any sort of emotional connection to another woman for over 15 years and the last one burned me, so I have trust issues) and I just don’t get her.
    In that same texting convo, we go back and forth a few times, with her changing the subject of each line (I had replied, jokingly, that I didn’t believe she wasn’t on Facebook- trying to give her the hint to stop with the lil’ white lies already) and in my last text to her, I tell her as much by saying “You changed the subject a lot! Someone has a lot of stuff to hide. LOL. Just kiddin’!!” and she responds angrily: No way man!!!! I’m an open book!!!!! I took the day off to take my son to the doctor.”

    I’m not even sure why she mentioned that. And I feel done. I’m tired of the lil’ white lies, it’s a lot of work on my part, and I’m unsure why she wants to be involved in a friendship with me. Plus, we’re doing this “friendship” 99% her way.

    That night, I send her a text, cancelling our upcoming hang-out and tell her to just hit me up when she has time for a traditional friendship, meaning she’s willing to put any effort in. I tell her that I’m not going anywhere, but it’s up to her.

    Less than 20 minutes later, she unfriends me on Facebook and never says a word.
    And I’m devastated.

    My husband, best friend and family tell me to let her go, that it was never even a friendship and that she’s a control freak. For the life of me, even now, I refuse to believe that.
    Two weeks later, I reach out to her via text. Nothing. The next day, I facebook message her. Nothing. No reply. She’s icing me out and I feel horrible.
    I question what to do next (I’m always trying to fix it and I’m blaming myself for needing too much from her) and send her an email, asking for her to rethink her decision and to get back to me the weekend of my birthday, on October 1st.
    In the mean time, my husband and best friend tell me to step away from this and that I’m too much in it, and she just doesn’t care. So I do. I block her and it’s hard, but I begin to move on.

    Two weeks later, on Oct. 1st, someone resets my facebook password. It wasn’t me or my husband and oddly enough, she is the only one who knows this email address (this email address is specifically used for this facebook account). In 6 years on FB, I’ve never had the “forgot password” link sent to me. I’m sure this is NOT a hacker attempt, as when you get hacked, they never send the “forgot password” link.
    It had to have been her. It was the day I asked you to reconsider by and you’re the only one who knows that email address. I explain this to my husband and he and I agree, this was her way of trying to signal me to come back.
    A normal person would have text messaged or e-mailed, but not her. Not with her being blocked at that moment. She would NEVER stick her neck out on the line for me.

    Now the anxious me is wondering WHY did she reset the password. I want a second chance so bad, believing I could change the outcome if I just lowered my expectations that I contemplate reaching out to her. Again, family and friends implore me not to, now armed with the “a normal person wouldn’t reset your password to contact you.”

    I ignore them, and less than a month after my password is reset, I reach out to her and apologize for my mistakes and unblock her on facebook. She says absolutely nothing, except she must have gone on me and my husband’s facebook profiles, because she accidentally likes something on his page.
    It’s been 3 weeks and not a word from her. She resets my password, I return, and again, I’m given the cold shoulder and am being iced out.

    And now I’m back at square one, trying to get over this. I feel like an idiot for coming back, putting myself out there again, now having to work through my anxious preoccupied tendencies.

    Why does everyone else in my life see her as a controlling, manipulative person and for the life of me, I can’t see it. Or maybe I just don’t want to.

    1. Sonia,

      Following probably summarizes everything… “… maybe I just don’t want to.”

      She is just a new friend, and it is not working out for you. You are getting obsessed with her, trying to make sense. Maybe that is what is keeping you in, trying to make sense when there is none.

      It is a simple scenario, and your choices are just two:
      – stay away completely, if your professional relationship allows it.
      – otherwise, keep cordial “professional level” and minimal relationship

      A friend that gives you headache, is simply not worth having.

      1. Yes Andy, I’m trying to make sense when there is none. I’ve never been treated this way and my husband family have said that I have become addicted to this type of treatment.
        Sad, but I have to let go, because I will never get answers, let alone understand.
        One good thing came out of this and that was learning about attachment disorders.

  17. Hi Sonia,

    Strange woman you encountered. Those who hold out the possibility of friendship like a carrot, are to be avoided. The old ‘advance, retreat,’ treatment, throws their ‘friends’ off balance.

    Narcissistic personalities don’t do egalitarian relationships. They want to be in the one up position, at all times. They end up jerking you around because they have you ‘on retainer’ as a friend, and in your case, have you jumping through all kinds of weird hoops, to maintain that lofty status.

    The one thing they cannot tolerate is for YOU to end the relationship. That puts you in the ‘one up’ position and their egos can’t allow that, so they will actually do weird things to ‘get you back.’ This doesn’t make any sense, unless it’s viewed from the perspective of an egotist.

    If you are anxious, you will be trying to understand, based on the emotional and mental maps you currently use to decipher the actions and intent of others. Anxious personalities feel literally threatened by something this important that they can’t understand. I know, as I was diagnosed with an acute anxiety disorder when I was young.

    These maps don’t work with a malignant narcissist. You will be forever stuck and obsessive about the why’s of irrational behaviour until you understand that you are dealing with a facade behind which hides a nubbin of humanity motivated primarily by ego.

    That hissed, “You. Have. To .Stop. Apologizing.” is probably the most honest she has been with you. That’s narcissistic contempt — and it is very real.

    You don’t deserve it anymore than you deserve to be in a position of apologizing for being human, to someone who ISN’T.

    Read everything you can that Dr. Simon has written about narcissism.

    1. LisaO,

      Thank you for raising my eyebrows to “narcissism.”

      At the time, comments like “I can be a friend to YOU”, “my friends are lucky if they see me 2-3x’s per year, if THEY are lucky”, “If you want to see me, YOU invite ME somewhere”, and comments that of that nature that were repeated enough times to be ingrained in my head, made me think she just had a big ego.

      The silence from her, all over asking for a mutual friendship, is painful. It’s a tough thing to go through and my mind cycles the information over and over, trying to make any sense of it, but alas, it cannot and so the cycle goes.

      So, I’m here, dealing with pain of rejection and silence (the pain sometimes seems to be nearly physical), while she sits back and does nothing. At this point, it would be nice to hear a “not interested in a friendship with you” over the silence. I find myself in limbo. Will she accept my portion of the apology? Will she just let me dangle? Why do anything, even that odd as resetting (but not hacking) my facebook password, all to have me just stew in confusion?

      I guess I just don’t understand. I’ve never met anyone like this woman before. And when she scolds me for having apologized, I too wondered “is this the real her coming out?”
      Then I rationalized it away, as I refuse to believe that I could care, let alone idealize, such a person.

      Thank you so much for your insight! It’s much appreciated 🙂

  18. Hi Sonia,

    Your situation is interesting and has prompt me to think of a narcissistic woman in my life. Mine is a very different situation and I have put a lot of distance between myself and her, but my mind keeps thinking about her. So I understand how obsession can keep you tied to a person who is behaving abusively and how difficult it can be to loosen the hold of that obsession.

    I also idealised and idolised the woman in my life and did a lot for her, so your comment about how much you looked up to the woman in your life struck me too. I saw her as a friend, but she was also the leader of a group I was involved in.

    Today, thinking about her and your situation, I thought I’d try a new tack. I don’t know if it will help you, but it is helping me to wonder what is it about the woman in my life that I find attractive. I know all about her negative attributes, but she also has many positive attributes as well.

    This dovetails in with Dr Simon’s argument about disorders happening on a continuum. It’s not a black and white situation. Not everybody is a psychopath or a malignant narcissist. Constructive and disordered attributes can exist side by side.

    So what are these positive qualities? What do they mean to me? Isn’t it possible that my mind can’t let go of her because I’ve got something to learn about her positive attributes? After all, it’s the positive qualities that drew me to her in the first place and they are powerful.

    I could never have achieved what she achieved. I say that, but having just written it, I’m suddenly wondering whether seeing myself as lesser and as less capable – less able to achieve than she is – is the essential problem that my mind has been trying to deal with.

    Somebody commented that this woman is actually jealous of me. I couldn’t see it. But what if she is, and what if her behaviour was designed to diminish my confidence, so that she and only she could shine? I’m beginning to think that these issues have been driving my obsession with this woman and explains why my mind kept thinking about her.

    I am not lesser or less capable. I too can shine in my own way. It feels like such a relief to say that. It feels as if this is what my mind has been looking for all along – a way out of the hold this woman had on my mind – which involved some deeply negative beliefs I had about myself.

    Thank-you for sharing your difficult situation, as it helped me greatly. Perhaps you too could try some lateral thinking. If you idolised the woman in your life, there must be some positive attributes that drew you to her. Maybe they matter to you and maybe you too can have those positive attributes in your life – without having to have her in your life as well.

    1. Stella,

      You and I are very much alike in the regard of we picked these respective women up on pedestals, while lowering the view we have of ourselves.
      This woman was quite aware of how I felt, as I told her “I never thought you’d be my friend. I thought you were too good for me.”

      1. Sonia,

        Yes, thank-you, I agree that my view of myself was lower, less worthwhile. I guess that’s why we’re both here – to increase our view of ourselves. 🙂

        I remember warning bells going off quite early on when she said, “I don’t have any friends.” I didn’t believe her. But like you, I thought I wasn’t good enough to be her friend, and if I did a lot for her, worked hard to help her, she would become my friend.

        Now I see she was simply being honest. I always knew something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it because the need in me to put her on a pedestal was so strong. I look back on what happened and I am quite shocked by it.

        It’s interesting too how you talk about attachment issues. I also have gained a lot from understanding how deeply driven we are by modes of attachment.

    2. Hi Stella,

      The Gollum like narcissist can vacillate quickly, between feelings of jealousy, envy, on the one hand and arrogant contempt towards you, on the other.

      I would describe them as being purely political animals who find it very difficult to have a normal reciprocal egalitarian relationship.

      I guess somewhere between contempt and jealousy there is an interpersonal sweet spot, that can be compared to that same area on a tennis racket, where conversation and genuine emotion, volley easily back and forth.

      But that’s a very small area on the racket. It’s just a spot, nothing more.

      They are confounding people. You have to bare in mind everybody is confused by them. And they often present as so accomplished and confident, we can’t fail to be impressed and feel lucky they have ‘chosen’ us as friends.

      I think of Bernie Madoff and how he wouldn’t except just anybody as a client. You had to be ‘tapped’ by an existing high profile client before he would honor you by taking your money and investing it.

      So, he created an aura of extreme exclusivity. All of his clients felt lucky.

      What they had done was accept an engraved invitation to their own mugging by a highly skilled manipulator, unbeknownst to them.

      They were being groomed and targeted and what was great about it was, Madoff didn’t have to do it, himself.

      It was a social engineering project that ran itself, after awhile, through the efforts of already enlisted clientele.

      Sooo…. If people, many of whom are sharks themselves, can be fooled, anybody can be.

      With the education Dr.Simon provides, we are far less likely to be duped by friends, business associates, sales people, professional con men. We can see through the antics of the powerful more easily, too!

      Don’t take on too much responsibility for a narcissist’s successful targeting attempts. You didn’t know about them because you hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time and on their radar before!

  19. Christine,

    Maybe once you choose to emotionally intimate with close friends/family those feelings will emerge. From reading your posts, I believe you have feelings/emotions but they are buried. You see emotion and love surrounding you and you want it. Maybe try reaching out from your shell and make yourself emotionally vulnerable and see what results.
    Personally, I was in a “shell” for several years after the passing of my mother. I quit feeling for quite a while. I was grieving and kind of lost my emotional self.
    And now, after being married to a CD man and now separated and going through divorce hell, I’m having a strong healthy relationship with a new man, of whom I am making myself vulnerable and emotionally intimate. I decided, before meeting this wonderful man, that the next man in my life I would open up to and be intimate with. I’ve lived a long life without it and am not going back to a shallow shared life.
    Linda

    1. Hi Linda, I hope so. I should start just being emotionally vulnerable with others. I need to get rid of contempt for emotion and vulnerability, because that’s probably part of why I have difficulty feeling. I need to accept that as human beings, we are meant to have emotions and they are valuable.

    2. Christine,

      Please, I hope you don’t mind if I nitpick just one detail. I intend no malice or ill spirit.

      I read once that it’s not vulnerability, actually, but receptivity. Does this change a thing?

      1. HI Christine, Timothy and Linda,

        I am sorry Christine you kind of got lost in part of this topic. I hope you continue to post because I believe you have a lot to share and hopefully we can learn and grow from each other.

        Linda and Timothy are both right. I would agree with the vulnerability, it is very difficult to do for the fact of opening up to rejection, betrayal and all that other painful bad stuff. You may be hurt and cry and feel pain, but at least you can feel and regardless, grow from each experience. The most important fact is to make sure the person we are opening up to merits our vulnerability. But if we don’t have this exchange or at least try we will never experience LIFE or truly Love.

        I am glad you are taking steps to grow Christine, it is a journey and on your way you will experience pain, and sorrow and joy and peace and so many more emotions. Break out and be who you are, the authentic Christine.
        Thank you for being here.

      2. BTOV,

        I think what I referenced meant that it’s not really vulnerability, but receptivity we are after. And it’s hard to be receptive if experiences have thrown dirt upon you.

        1. Hi Timothy,

          I said you were both right, I only addressed in part, I will try to answer further if I can later. These are some very important points that need to be discussed.

          Many times our being isn’t aware of what is going on around us. Please don’t take things personally. I think Vera has already gone onto her next objective thought. At times we may not agree and at times come to conclusions without all the information to make a formed decisions. So many variables. I have had some in depth banter with posters here but in the end I ended in “blessings” and I believe we mutually respected each others right to disagree.

          So Timothy I look forward to your posts!

          The other books I may have posted somewhere else, I am sorry. Will have to repost them later.

  20. I found a blog in which Dr Simon described my partner’s driving habits exactly – zipping in and out of traffic, etc. It was an eye-opener.

    However I am new to this blog, and moved from the page to look at other issues, and lost it. I want to read it again but cannot find it. Does anybody know where it is or how to find it?

  21. The hostage killings in Paris and now this morning the hostages in Africa – do you see the parallel with our lives?

    A few thoughts.

    The terrorist, all over like cockroaches, are the puppets, obviously character disordered. They likely do not have the needed skills to mastermind such a plan for massive destruction. Although they do have the skills needed to carry out bits and pieces of the plan.

    The tremendous tactical skills, the brain power behind the operation[s] is the predator – the psychopath. Hiding somewhere safe, controlling everything with electronics.

    Terrorist have two things in common they made lawless choices and they don’t care.

    They instill fear and fear controls.

    That’s what it takes to pull off great harm to the masses and a gang attack to an innocent child on the school bus or playground.

    And to you and I.

    It’s a matter of degree.

    As Dr. Simon said: “Not all the difficult people in your life will meet the criteria established for a true character “disorder.” But that doesn’t mean that some of these folks aren’t significantly disturbed characters capable of making your life miserable.“

    It’s all about character, at the core/root it’s all the same stuff.

    The same stuff – on our playgrounds, in our private lives, in our world.

    Character Matters!

  22. Hi Vera,

    “I will stand up for this community, and against their repeated and endless attempts to force their point of view on us.”

    Thanx-A-Million!

    And with much appreciation!

  23. Hi Vera,

    Am just confused by the Shaun episode. I am not able to follow the different aliases of various posters. It creates a whole, “who’s on first, what’s in second?” feeling.

    Like you and everybody else I would appreciate it if posters who have trouble with others and or Dr. Simon, on the forum, didn’t post under other aliases.

    Aliases are useful if you want to divulge new information about your situation, your life, that would identify you in the real world, to friends or family. I don’t think anybody has a problem with that.

    But aliases shouldn’t be used in repeated attempts to hammer home points of view, particularly if the end game is more about winning or just venting one’s spleen than anything else.

  24. Despite asking for Vera to fill in some holes, I think I went too far in judging from just few posts and trying to be “objective”. Vera apparently felt betrayed or at least I ended up goofing.

    Now, I’ve been manipulated and I’ve also met a bunch of suspicious folks. I guess I’ve been lucky. My experiences don’t seem to compare to those of others here, though.

    Other posters, if you want me to go away, I accept it, however begrudgingly.

    1. Timothy,

      I don’t think anybody wants you to go away! You are a valuable contributor.

      There was a lapse of understanding, right? You and I both were confused by the multiple aliases. Even though Shaun mentioned he had used other aliases and had been nasty, under other names, I had no idea when this occurred and if he was just being hard on himself by referencing his lousy behavior.

      That’s why I wish truly ‘difficult’ posters would just stick to their original aliases and try to resolve their problems on Dr. Simon’s blog.

      Other posters are probably more triggered by deception than I am. I have only really experienced it, in full malignant form, once. That was super horrible, but it was just once. Most of the
      weirdos in my life have been pretty upfront awful or the relationship has never been close enough to cause huge amounts of damage.

      My heart goes out to anybody having to deal with ongoing current deception or cd behavior and then have to face it on a support forum!

      At least Dr.Simon’s blog doesn’t have CD moderators! Have seen that! Shudder!

      1. Hi LisaO,

        Shaun, is posting as Patrick and Dastardly, that I know of. I read some of the disgusting, foul posts that Dr. Simon edited. If you go back at least to the prior topic and this one you can read for yourself. the discussion and posts. I had gut feelings and seen flags waving, so did Vera.

        I would welcome trying to help someone that is looking to change. Just as I welcome positive change for myself. But personal agendas and deceit is another thing. Timothy, just got caught up in it all and meant only to help.

        The only winner here is the perpetrator that causes declension and conflict and is rewarded by dividing us. Welcome Timothy, to your input.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts here.

      I had a convo with Suzi. I’m not sure if she agreed with me on everything, but what she seemed to agree with was this:

      Possible good points can remain good points, even when taken apart from other things someone says. In this, any good points by Shaun are better taken separately from his overall behavior and stratagems for which he is accountable for.

      1. Timothy,

        Yep, that’s right we take out what we can use, the good stuff and throw the rest away.

        Do you see what has happened here… a disordered person[s] has thrown darts at the group and stirred everyone up.

        You know how the disordered are. They just do this kind of stuff naturally. It comes easy for them.

        Frankly I’m utterly confused so I’m going to sit back, relax and let Vera man the ship!

        Timothy you did just fine….you are real cool!

        1. Yes, We live and learn and some darts and pokes and kicks keeps us alert. Now, we are a little smarter for it, I hope. Its a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

          Regardless, how bad, never forget to look for the good in it. What lesson can I learn here, what is the message? Hug’s to all

        2. Hey thanks, Suzi.

          It’s a blade with at least two sides to it:

          *Putting some words, themselves otherwise okay, in a certain context can produce an effect, a manipulative effect nonetheless.

          *Sometimes people can answer not so much to what someone actually said and meant, but completely to the opposite, even when another person just said another thing entirely. Can be deliberate misinterpretation, misunderstanding, bias, seeing something beyond words themselves(accurate or not)…

          1. This reminds of the time I went to the ER. I couldn’t catch my breath. About 4 weeks later I got an enormous bill from the hospital. I called the hospital’s billing department to find out why my health insurance did not pick up some of the bill.

            She said: “Were you short of breath or were you having trouble breathing?

            I said: “I don’t know. I couldn’t catch my breath. What’s the difference?”

            She said: “Well one is covered by insurance and the other isn’t.”

            Yep a double edge blade….sometimes words are confusing.

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