Personality & Character Disorders – Pt 7: A Wrap-Up

Today’s article is the last in a series on personality and character disturbances and disorders.  And after discussing two of the more common personality types, I’ll be giving some brief attention to a few infrequently occurring personalities as well as presenting a framework for understanding one of the  most difficult personality types to understand and deal with: borderline personality.

There are two types of personalities that are primarily characterized by the kind of social detachment they display.  One is the “avoidant” personality.  This type of individual desires social engagement, wanting nothing more than the acceptance and approval of others, but because they anticipate disappointment are so sensitive about the prospect of rejection that they actively avoid intimate encounters.  These folks are beyond shy.  And because they so frequently and excessively isolate themselves to the point they can’t function well, their personality styles easily rise to the level of a disorder.

Hypersensitivity and an overly anxious and reactive temperament are thought to predispose this type of personality development.  And, because an individual so predisposed is actually likely to experience a significant amount rejection and negative reaction from others during their formative years, the combination of a learned expectancy for disappointment and rejection from one’s outer world coupled with a hypersensitivity to that perceived rejection produces an effective one-two punch with respect to avoidant personality formation.  On balance, this is a relatively “neurotic” personality style, and avoidant individuals are predisposed toward certain clinical conditions, especially anxiety disorders and phobias, as well as mood disorders, particularly depression and dysthymia.

The therapy room can provide an excellent training ground for building the confidence in relationships avoidant personalities need.  Still, the therapist must take care to help the client realize that not every relationship is likely to be as unconditionally positively regarding as the therapy relationship is.  So the task is to help the client recognize and appreciate his/her value, even in the absence of “unconditional” acceptance by others.

Another “detached” personality type is the schizoid or “asocial” personality.  Unlike avoidant personalities who crave yet fear intimate involvments, schizoids lack the motivation to form such bonds.  Some lead a hermit-like existence.   Constitutional predispositions appear to play a large role in the formation of this personality style, although the exact constitutional factors at play are still undetermined.  About the only environmental factor known to contribute to this type of personality development is a cold, sterile and non-stimulating atmosphere in the home where dispassionate neglect abounds.

Another personality type is the Dependent (sometimes called “passive-dependent”) Personality.  These individuals tend to be remarkably unassertive and overly “submissive” in their interpersonal relations.  They are the polar opposites of group of individuals I label the “aggressive personalities” on just about every dimension one can think of.  They may have a constitutional predisposition toward an overly pacific temperament and an abnormal degree of comfort with submissive behavior.  And during their developmental years, they typically fail to do what most folks do to develop a sense of self-efficacy and self-reliance.  Their passivity and inaction invites over-protection as well as over-domination by powerful others.  As a result, they over-learn to depend on external sources for satisfaction of their emotional wants and needs.  When their passivity and submissiveness reaches dysfunctional levels, they become the archetypal “doormats” whom others walk all over.  Passivity and submissiveness at this level truly represent a disorder.  And these features predispose individuals of this personality type to a wide variety of clinical conditions, not the least of which are depressive disorders and anxiety disorders.  Vulnerability to these disorders is  highest when, for various reasons, dependent personalities lose a perceived source of emotional support.

Dependent personalities are a natural magnet for narcissists and aggressive personalities.  And they’re also drawn to what they see as the innate confidence and brandished “power” of these unsavory characters.  This allows them to easily become the penultimate victims, exploited and abused, but nonetheless apprehensive about disengagement because they have so little confidence in their ability to fend for themselves.

Histrionic (sometimes called “active-dependent”) personalities, like dependent personalities, look outside of themselves (in contrast to narcissists) for satisfaction of their emotional needs.  But unlike their passive counterparts, these individuals are active in their pursuit of  involvements with others to satisfy their cravings for emotional gratification.  Often quite gregarious, they can appear to others as overly reactive, dramatic, seductive, and attention-seeking.  And because their lives are so chronically full of drama, they can also come across as quite superficial.  Sometimes gregarious to a fault, they can exercise very poor judgment with respect to their social involvements, being drawn to those who appear powerful and/or capable of providing high levels of stimulation and excitement but who may also be of such deficient character that association with them necessarily invites trouble.  Histrionic personalities seem to have a constitutional predisposition to high emotional reactivity.  In their formative years, they may have been overly “trained” to look outward instead of inward for satisfaction of emotional needs.  This can happen in the case of an attractive, talented, energetic, and outgoing child who is always the center of everyone’s attention.  These personalities are at risk for anxiety and depressive disorders, especially in the absence of energy-charged relationships.  They can become easily despondent when bored or deprived of sufficient stimulation and anxious in the absence of someone to connect with.

On the neurotic vs. character impaired spectrum, both the active and passive dependent personalities often fall somewhere in the middle.  There are some aspects of their coping “styles” that appear to arise out of the inner emotional conflicts.  But there are also some aspects of their personalities that arise primarily out of their predispositions both innate and behavioral which reflect a lack of sound moral social judgment.  Perhaps the passive-dependent personality’s greatest character flaw is their general weakness of character, perpetuated by their repeated failure to take assertive action, whereas the active-dependent personality’s greatest flaw is the lack of judgment they exercise in relationships because of their excessive sensation-seeking tendencies.

Paranoid personalities are among the rarest personality types but they’re significantly disturbed.  These are folks who see reasons to distrust others and actively guard against the possibility of victimization at every turn.  They come across as hypervigilant and mistrusting, hostile, secretive, and pathologically jealous.  Although their personality isn’t characterized by true delusional thinking, they can easily succumb to more severe pathologically paranoid behavior under stress.  Such folks are often described as a “ticking time bomb,” waiting to go off at a perceived slight.  It’s not easy to get “lured into” relationships with these folks because of how overtly unattractive their “style” of interacting is.  Still, depending upon how severe their personality disturbance is, their true colors might not be fully seen early in a relationship, only to surface as their tenuous controls deteriorate under stress.

One very rare personality type is the schizotypal personality.  These individuals are so odd and eccentric in their manner of self-presentation that it’s easy to erroneously label them as schizophrenic.  But although these fold might behave in odd ways that reflect odd beliefs, they don’t operate under genuine delusions, don’t have hallucinations, and show none of the other critical signs of a psychotic thought process.

I once interviewed a middle-aged woman who spoke with a thick British accent, dressed and behaved in the manner of an aristocrat, and, came across as being a person of wealth and remarkable pedigree.  She was, in reality, however, a country girl, born and raised in a small town in the mid-southern United States.  She was not delusional, nor was she out of contact with reality.  She held no false beliefs about herself and although she acted like royalty, she never claimed to be what she was not.  Still, her manner was distinctly odd and eccentric.  And she was an absolute delight to talk to, despite her remarkable persona.  Her schizotypal personality didn’t even rise to the level of a disorder because she was not significantly impaired in her ability to cope or relate to others.  In fact, you’d probably just want to invite her over for “tea and crumpets.”  An interesting and rare example of a very rare and peculiar personality type!  Under stress, these personalities can deteriorate and exhibit signs of true mental illness.  And although it’s highly suspected that there are strong constitutional predispositions for this personality type (mental illness in the family history is one known risk factor), no specific predisposing factors have yet been identified.

Borderline personalities are perhaps the most misunderstood of all the personality types.  Perhaps that’s because their overall “style” of coping really emerges by default, arising out of  their failure to solidify a solid sense of personal identity.  In other words, borderline personalities are individuals whose personalty never quite came together.  And, perhaps the biggest reason why there’s so much confusion – even among professionals – about how to best perceive and deal with these folks, is the fact that depending on what innate traits and acquired habits are most predominant, every borderline personality is different.  Individuals with a weak sense of self but whose dominant personality traits are of the “submissive” variety, for example, are very, very different from those with strong narcissistic and/or aggressive personality trait s.  Still, there are some common behavioral manifestations that accompany the failure to develop a well-integrated and stable sense of self.  These include impulsive and erratic behavior, explosive anger displays, self-damaging and  self-injurious gestures and acts, highly intense but equally chaotic interpersonal involvements and enmeshments, and periodic deterioration into severe forms mental illness.

Constitutionally, borderline personalities may be predisposed to unusually intense fear and anger responses.  Excessive fear and anger may easily impair their ability to master emotional developmental stages, and making it more difficult to solidify a healthy or adaptive and preferred “style” of coping.  Borderlines also appear overly predisposed toward “dialectical” thinking.  This makes it harder than normal for them to decide “which way to go” when contemplating various coping strategies they see “both sides” too easily, “split” concepts into their “good” and “bad” components, and become easily overwhelmed trying to determine what the “reality” of a situation really is.  They have a markedly impaired ability to modulate and self-regulate their emotions.  Most interestingly, they also tend have experienced highly abusive and traumatic situations during their formative years.  When all these things are taken into consideration, it’s easier to understand why and how these personalities fail to progress smoothly through their emotional development, arrive at a stable sense of self, and develop a preferred and adaptive way of coping.

Borderlines are prone to numerous clinical syndromes, most especially severe mood disorders (including Bipolar Disorder) and psychotic episodes.  Conventional therapies other than intensive psychoanalysis are largely ineffective.  Artful and long-term psychoanalysis has shown some ability to help borderline personalities slowly build a more solid sense of self.  And Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a specialized form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, has demonstrated some effectiveness, possibly in part because it’s compatible with the borderline individual’s natural tendency toward dialectical thinking.

This post represents the last in a series on the major personality types and personality disorders.  But before progressing to the next series of articles, perhaps next week’s post will incorporate a lot of the questions and feedback the current series has prompted.  So, as always, reader input is most welcome.

96 thoughts on “Personality & Character Disorders – Pt 7: A Wrap-Up

  1. As always, Thank You, Dr. Simon. I read each of your posts several times, trying to let your information soak into my brain.

    Here’s a suggestion for another post — if you have already covered this, I haven’t seen it. Those of us who have been brought up to respect authority, including church pastors, sometimes ask them for help, counseling, etc. IF the pastor is a charming narcissist, he or she can do enormous damage to someone who is already deeply wounded. One source I found on the web (can’t recall where exactly) stated that NPDs are attracted to the pastorate, or to non-profit administration, because they can be “the voice of God” — “just see how much good I am doing” — etc. There is a great anonymous article, obviously written by someone who had to serve under a narcissistic pastor. You can find it at

    I served as church organist under a NPD music minister. I finally left that church because I felt that this man was derelict in his duty as a pastor. It didn’t matter who got hurt, the show (and it was mostly entertainment, not worship) must go on. I tried various times to reason with him, but to no avail. He was always extremely critical of whatever I did, but God always sent some person from the congregation to tell me how much they appreciated my music, whenever I was feeling disillusioned about continuing. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. I left that church.

    Fast forward 15 years. He came into my alterations shop and said hi, remember me, I’m so-and-so. Now mind, I live quietly, but I’m not invisible. If he had been interested, he could have found me during those 15 years — this is a small town. But immediately he started asking questions about my life, my son, etc. Asked where I was attending church now. All said in that supercilious, patronizing manner/tone of voice. said I should be attending church “for the fellowship.” By the time he left, I was gritting my teeth to keep from slapping him upside the head.

    When he came back to pick up his 2 pair of Dockers pants, his first remark was Oh, I see you got them done on time — again supercilious tone. I handed him the pants, he looked at them and said in a surprised tone of voice Oh, I see you do good work. (The local department stores send me menswear customers for final tweaking/tailoring of their dress suits, and I have customers in New York City who ship their projects to me for the final touch — I’m that good.) Then he wanted to try them on. Almost all of my customers assume the clothes will fit, they just pay and leave. Anyway he tried them on and big surprise, they fit perfectly. He paid, then I told him that in future he would have to find a different seamstress. He then wanted to “discuss” this, I KNEW he would say that, because I had tried discussing problems with him many times before, with him seeming to listen, then going right on as he always had. I said No. My home, my business, my rules, no discussion. I had written him a letter, so I handed it to him, said take this home, study it, don’t come back here. He so badly wanted to say something, I just looked him in the eye, and thought “Make my day.” I was ready to take him by the collar and frog march him out the door. But I kept my cool demeanor, he didn’t seem eager to leave, I just wanted to be rid of him. I finally said I hope it won’t be necessary to call the police. That did it, he left. In the letter (I write very blunt bulldozer letters) I told him, among other things, exactly why I had left his church, that I considered him to be among those whom Paul described in Romans 16:17, 18 and that if by fellowship he meant with people like himself, I would rather eat broken glass.

    Now mind, I don’t go looking for trouble. I live quietly. I try to be courteous to everyone. I try to help people when I can. When I have a problem of some sort, I pray about it, and I talk about it with several trusted friends before taking action. But, I will not tolerate people who barely know me yet think they are entitled to tell me how I should live my life.

    I apologize for the length of this post (if it seems a bit disjointed, please consider that I have necessarily left out a lot of the back story, it would take way too long to put it all in) — I do hope you will consider NPD pastors as a possible topic for a future article. Thank you again, best wishes to all.

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion. I actually have about 4 or 5 great stories to share on this topic, so I’ll fashion an article on it sometime soon. And remind me if I seem to forget! BTW, you might find my latest book “The Judas Syndrome” an interesting read with regard to aspects of faith, especially in regard to narcissistic characters.

  2. Is it at all possible that I’ve graduated from therapy – if I’m anxious my CA parent is trying to trap me, my last therapist sometimes understood but other times said I was “mind reading” or “catastrophizing”.

    I now know the word is “aggressive” but many people just do not understand.

    Many therapists over the years got a few things right and I am thankful for that. I’m just questioning the entire paradigm of therapy, lately, paying someone to listen to you, immediately trusting them without them proving or earning your trust.

    I don’t mean to sound negative but it is a puzzling question and wonder if the author of this blog has any comment or guidance? Thank you for your important contributions on this subject matter!

    1. You are most astute that the paradigm of “paying someone to listen to you” is well worth questioning, especially in the age in which we live. I stopped practicing that kind of therapy many years ago. And from the very outset I did what I believed it absolutely essentially ethical to do: perform a comprehensive assessment, provide direct feedback about the assessment and render a diagnosis, and propose a plan of intervention with clear objectives and effectiveness measurement guidelines. You expect nothing less from any other medical professional you go to for any issue. And you couldn’t possibly be any more spot-on when it comes to the trust issue and how it should be earned. I make a big point of this issue in the book “Character Disturbance” when discussing therapy issues.

      1. “clear objectives and effectiveness measurement guidelines” that whole field is in trouble IMO, they suddenly seem very behind the times.

  3. Thank you for your response.

    I allowed your flattery to manipulate me into ordering your book from Amazon. ;D

    1. LOL. Well, I’m glad you’re going to get the book. The therapy vignettes were designed to emphasize the points discussed here about the radical “paradigm shift” necessary to deal with character disturbance. I think you’ll find a lot of validation of your experience in the stories as well.

  4. Many a time in my adult life, especially in my 30’s as my life started to “come together” in terms of career, finances and relationships, I could swear my CA NPD mother was deliberately trying to give me BPD.

    NPD types will put their adult children (and probably juveniles) in endless torturous double-binds. Thus the adult children have it “harder than normal for them to decide “which way to go””.

    Also my fear of CA parent was justified but the extreme subtlety and practiced covertness of her abuse made my fear (as well as appropriate, justified and healthy anger) appear irrational to the outside observer.

    The Pressman and Pressman book on Narcissistic Families said many children come out of NFamilies with BPD and I can certainly see why.

  5. Hello Claire. Yes, NPD female biological parents can and do make life a continual hell of double- bind situations — with large side helpings of public humiliation. Because you aren’t really a person, you are her possession. Anything you might accomplish on your own, with lots of study, lots of work, is useful to NPD “mother” ONLY if it reflects glory to her. Otherwise she will mock you, make fun of you, “oh, that isn’t really work,” etc. ad infinitum, until the day she dies. I wrestled with the Biblical command to “honor thy parents” and finally decided that, inherent in that command, is that parents must also behave themselves and treat others in an honorable manner.

    At age 18, I was able to totally disengage, with the help of the wonderful people who were my foster parents. I realized many years later that the absolute worst punishment for a NPD person is to be ignored. It takes a lot of work (possibly therapy, much study of the many available books) for the children of such people to stay reasonably sane and lead a productive life, but it CAN be done. You might want to look up books by Victoria Secunda; they helped me enormously. And sadly, some children of such people are emotionally and psychologically crippled for life. I believe that possibly I had to go through the fiery furnace of her treatment so that I could recognize and reach out a helping hand to others in similar situations. Yes, outsiders will think you are nuts, how could you be afraid of such a charming (to others) person. I still, to this day, 50+ years later, on hearing a low pitched woman’s voice with a New England accent, feel an immediate and overwhelming “fight or flight” response. I have to remind myself that she is dead, take several deep breaths, and keep on working. May God bless you on your journey to wholeness. Best wishes from Elva

    1. Elva, thank you for your kind word. How wonderful to have found foster parents,

      I had a wonderful grandmother, a sane extended family, and luckily only one N in our foo. I had some struggles then broke free a few years ago.

      Finding others with NPD parents was a huge step. And on my own, I tried to get us to brainstorm ,to give a name to the tactics our CA parents had used on us. Then one day aha, stumbled on a review of the book In Sheeps Clothing.

  6. Dr Simon, I’m wondering where there needs to be allowance made for those with learning difficulties – especially if they are fairly mild and therefore easily forgotten about? (‘Learning Difficulty’ is the tern we use in UK, I don’t know what the equivalent would be in US)

    Autistic traits and mild dyslexia are in our family.

    It’s hard to tell for sure as my husband is CA (your book ‘In Sheep’s Clothings was an eye opener, describing him to a ‘T’!) but some things I talk about, he genuinely doesn’t seem to understand what I’m asking of him and what he’s doing wrong. Sometimes he seems to stop fighting and, instead of going into what I can now spot is ‘feigning innocence’ or ‘playing the victim’ mode, he seems to genuinely be bewildered. I know it could be impression management but I’m not sure. If there are autistic traits and dyslexia around, could he genuinely be unable to comprehend normal, respectful and compassionate relationship dynamics?

    I realise I can still expect him to listen respectfully to me and hold him accountable to that. But when we’ve discussed emotional and relational issues, how much can I expect him to think through for himself and understand what changes are needed?

    It’s like there is a bit missing in him. Can this be a genuine learning difficulty that will limit how much he can take on board and change? Or is that an excuse? However, HE HASN’T USED IT AS AN EXCUSE, that’s what makes me wonder if it is a genuine problem for him.

    Or is the UK understanding of ‘mild learning difficulty’ and your explanation of ‘character disturbance’ the same thing really? Hmmmm


    1. It’s often hard to tell whether an apparent or expressed “confusion” is genuine and possibly even a sign of learning difficulties, or simply a tactic to evade responsibility and manipulate. The real test is whether, when held to account, there’s any attempt on the person’s part to really incorporate feedback and genuinely work on doing better. For the learning impaired, this can be quite a challenge. But if no character issues are present, once the necessity of the task to the well-being of the relationship is clear, even the impaired person should be expected to pick up the challenge and to work at the task of change.

    2. Rose, in the US we call the thing you might be talking about “learning disabilities”.
      One question that immediately popped into my mind as I read your post…….how is he with other people? Do some reading about “primary and secondary narcissistic supply”.
      Go to the web site “Narcissists Suck” and I think you will find articles there or just search for the words I just gave you above.

      1. thanks both to Puddle and Dr Simon.

        Willingness to listen and to change. that is a good test.

        I am still researching, discovering and learning.

        reading ‘Character Disturbance’ some more – chapter 6 is an eye opener to some more tactics I didn’t realise were tactics, but I’ve noticed my husband doing them. Some of these tactics were either not in the previous book or are explained in more detail here.

        It’s scary as the tactics are often disguised as neurotic things. you can’t prove the motive behind the behaviour or words. you can’t ‘call’ a CA on these things and expect them to accept it. they can be horrified, question, refute and sound truthful. Only long term experience with an opened mind to the possibility of selfish motives can convince you of the truth. the CA person may never agree – you have to just know it for yourself.

        Just now my husband is in ‘listening and being contrite mode’.

        I hate to think he’s just using another tactic, I want to believe he’s really willing to change.

        but the jury is out until I see concrete evidence of change that is lasting.

        that’s my bottom line now – after reading and re-reading Dr Simon’s and Lundy Bancroft’s work.

        Evidence of long term behavioural change is the only proof of real change (and therefore that I can begin to trust my husband again and may be safe with him).

        thanks all for your encouragement to think clearly and look for what is really going on.


  7. Rose………..I want you to read this. I WILL WARN YOU……….this web site has profanity and an attitude. The article is not so bad in that department but I do feel it’s appropriate to tell you that the web site it’s self is a little coarse.
    Having said that, I read this yesterday and was blown away and forwarded it to a “friend” on another blog about psychopaths and she gave me the thumbs up BUT she did acknowledge the profanity issue. There might be more information in other articles for you as well. Im telling you, this information is out there and nothing I read in this article was off base with the majority of the sound info I’ve come across.
    Um, you can tell by the website address there is an attitude! It doesn’t bother me but I know you are religiously based so I thought I should warn you!!

    1. Rose, I have read so much about emotional manipulation at this point I think my brain is going to pop! KEEP READING! When you hear something from one source……it may resonate with your experience right off but when you read the same thing over and over in different words and from different sources…….it is like getting hit over the head with a bowling ball.
      I will also say this………Dr. Simon is a rock solid good man. He is tirelessly doing his best to really help people. It’s not just selling books. The information on his web site and his comments and words of help are free and I never feel like I have adequate words to express my admiration and respect for him. I’m so glad you found this resource and if you only feel comfortable here……it’s a good place for you to be!

    2. I appreciate your warning, here, Puddle, very much. As you know, I’m committed to allowing maximum freedom of exchange on this site of information that will help empower others. And to date, I’ve not had to worry but save only a couple of times that folks will abuse the privilege insofar as language, etc. is concerned. And because, as you say, information and empowerment is my primary objective, I’ve also permitted the free exchange of information regarding other sites and resources, even “competing” ones in the literary and information marketplace. That’s why I really appreciate it when folks take care to respect the integrity of this site. And when it comes to other sites, authors, books, blogs, etc. with which I’m not personally familiar, I would particularly appreciate it when someone makes a referral to one of them as a resource that they provide a concise summary of the principles, material, etc. they’d like other readers to access and digest. Because it’s not possible for me to be familiar with everyone else’s work, brief summaries like that will at least provide me with an indication of whether the other source’s material is compatible with the information on this blog and doesn’t suggest perspective that my experience has taught me might not be all that helpful.

      1. Your welcome Dr. Simon. I’m not offended by most curse words BUT, some are.
        For me it depends on the context…..many factors. Anyhow, that particular article is about emotional abuse. I just saw another one somewhere that I will probably post if I can relocate it.

      2. Dr. Simon,,,,,,,I think I HAVE abused the language issue here before………..I get on a roll and just can’t seem to express the depth of my hurt and anger and disgust without some colorful words. I do try to keep it to a minimum and use the little #*@ thingies. But one thing that just fits SO perfectly is the “relationshit”. I can’t resist that one…….
        I don’t mean it in an offensive way!

        1. While I do care about language and the integrity and image of this blog, I am also concerned with folks accessing material on other sites which might include some valuable information but also might promote potentially harmful notions like the “self-hate” and “low-self-esteem” issues once thought to underlie the behavior of abusers, which while sometimes mildly true in rare cases, is hardly the norm and perpetuates beliefs that keep many victims entrenched in horrid situations. So, while I appreciate everyone taking care to keep the discussion of high character, I will also appreciate being fully informed about the material in other books and sites that my blog readers recommend, as well as a friendly warning, when applicable, about any problematic content in those books or on those sites.

          1. Dr. SImon, I think the thing is this……….they don’t have real self esteem and I think they definitely don’t have self respect. It’s all a show that they put on in a way to cover up how pathetic they really are. People who really feel good about themselves just don’t do the kinds of things these people do. They envy others because others have the real thing and they don’t. So in their mind it’s maybe an “I’ll show YOU”! “You aren’t all that”! Or they are so absent of anything real and good that they have just relinquished themselves to live in the dark. And misery love miserable companions.

          2. Hi Puddle, sorry but feel I have to gently disagree…because it’s been such a helpful and liberating message from Dr S –
            They DO have self-‘esteem’, and too much. Esteem means the estimate and value you place on something. We can get that wrong – we can get it wrong about other people and rate them too highly, so logically we can do the same for ourselves. Put another way – what’s the logic in saying ‘you can have too low-self-esteem but not too high’ – whih has been the message in much of America’s social- and psychological- professions for the last few decades —- it’s like saying you can underestimate the weight of something but can’t overestimate it, which doesn’t seem logical.

            They don’t have self-honesty, self-responsibility, a *balanced and accurate* estimation of themselves…but they don’t lack ‘self-esteem’. I suppose they lack accurate ‘self-estimation’!!

            I certainly used to agree that people who feel good about themselves don’t do terrible things…but not anymore. Now I think I’d say something like: People who have ‘self-compassion’ and moral dignity treat others well and don’t treat themselves like dirt either. It’s two sides of the same coin of integrity which (although ethical) does spring from mental health and psychological well-being.

            Dr S makes a useful distinction between ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-respect’ that I think rings true. I think it’s in both ‘Sheep’s Clohing’ and ‘Character Disturbance’ but i’m not sure

          3. Been There Often……….hmmmmm……….. I KNOW I’m not expressing my opinion about this clearly and I take no offense in your gentle disagreement! LOL

            I do understand the difference between their self esteem vs self respect. I guess what I’m trying to say is that their self esteem is a cover. It’s a false esteem based on little to nothing. It’s like false bravado……….it’s a cover up and a mask. I think at a core level they hate themselves and are not “””aware””” of the self loathing that is underneath their estimation of them selves. They can’t STAND to have anyone even remotely express any displeasure with them, their choices, their actions because it threatens this false sense of themselves they try so hard to hide behind, their mask of self assessed and created perfection.
            I actually think we are on the same page BTO but i think there is another layer. they are empty and void of anything real. They can see this realness all around them in other people and all they can do is mimic it. But their mask( of self esteem) is a castle built on a sand foundation that constantly has to be protected because in reality it’s only a house of cards. Their OVER esteem of themselves is their armor, their mask, superficial proof to themselves and others that they are “all that and a bag of chips” and deserve to have whatever they want whether they deserve it or not. It’s just a vehicle to get what they want.

          4. BTO…….In People Of The Lie, there was a statement that really rang true to me and I think I posted it here somewhere…..the whole quote ……BUT, this part kind of clarifies what I’m trying to say…………”they have a pathological attachment to the status quo of their personalities” (their mask)(their self esteem).
            Self respect comes from who you ARE, not who you have convinced yourself and others you are. It’s based on choices you have made during your life, ACTIONS,,,,,,,,,choices to do the right thing by others and not just what benefits you. These “people” are unable to make choices for anyone other than themselves and their twisted narcissistic, and fragile I might add, egos and self serving interests.

          5. BTO……OK, this is kind of weird. As I said, I am reading People Of The Lie right now and just sat down for some more reading. The part i just read is talking about exactly what i was trying to say!! I’ll quote two things out of my most recent reading………
            “the failure of the evil to define themselves as disordered is an essential, integral component of their condition”.
            Second quote:
            “The evil deny the suffering of their guilt- the painful awareness of their sin, inadequacy, and imperfection-by casting their pain onto others through projection and scapegoating. They themselves may not suffer, but those around them do. They cause suffering.”
            Pg. 123-124 M. Scott Peck, MD People Of The Lie

            I definitely have a couple issues with some of his writing and some of what he says BUT, a lot of it really feels right to me and sometimes in a way I can’t put into words exactly.

          6. Just have to respond here.

            Peck was so close to the truth that it hurts that the jargon and paradigm he was so indoctrinated with led him to choose such words.

            For what it’s worth, here’s my beef with the ever-eloquent late Dr. Peck and the way he wants us to view evil: Evil people don’t “deny the suffering of their guilt.” That would assume (as all classically trained psychiatrists and psychologists are indoctrinated to believe) that they experience guilt in the first place, have a primitive and unconscious denial mechanism that blocks access to that guilt, that they (as Peck also asserts) then “project” (another unconscious defense mechanism) the guilt they bear onto others, and therefore cause others to suffer but necessarily inadvertently because if they don’t see it then they can’t really intend it. And if any of this had any validity, that would make these “evil” folks not evil at all but rather “oblivious,” albeit “disordered.” But after years of testing out in literally thousands of cases the degree of awareness most of these folks have, in my humble opinion, what makes it just to conceive of “evil” folks as evil is the fact that they KNOW what they’re doing, they KNOW that most people find it wrong, harmful, self-serving, etc., and they also KNOW that other people want them to do otherwise and to submit themselves to a different standard of conduct, but rather steadfastly refuse to do so, because they bow to no one, and in their desire to have others bow to them, use techniques such as “scapegoating,” victim-blaming, etc. to get decent but unsure people to see things their way and to view them in a more positive light. That’s WHY they’re evil and not just obliviously harmful. Peck is not the first otherwise brilliant psychiatrist to come to an awareness that many of the patients he was encountering displayed behaviors more consistent with character disturbance than the “neurosis” he was trained to treat. And he did his best to capture and explain the phenomenon. And sometimes his descriptions are almost poetic in their beauty. And they seem to make so much sense. That is, until you look a bit deeper and examine more careful the philosophy and theoretical foundations that underlie the words he chooses.

            Jesus reportedly asked God to forgive his executioners because they didn’t really understand what they were doing (i.e. inflicting injustice on an innocent person). But evil people know. That’s what makes them evil. It’s not their “failure” to define themselves as “disordered” that defines their “condition” but rather their “refusal” to adopt the standards they know other, more empathic, less self-centered folks want them to internalize that bespeaks their disordered character. And they are neither “inadequate” nor merely “imperfect.” We’re ALL imperfect! It’s much more than that. They’re simply defiant, a legend in their own minds, subservient to no higher power. In religious myth, we’re told that those characteristics define Lucifer’s character. The myth also speaks of him as the penultimate liar. The first half of what makes an evil person evil is the pathological but fully embraced narcissism. The second half is masquerading oneself as anything but this kind of character, knowing who you really are.

            It’s late and I’m not my most eloquent right now. But I couldn’t let this one go…

          7. Dr. Simon……I really do think that in part, this is a mater of semantics. To put my statements into a short version on this,,,,,,,,, Their “self esteem is not self-esteem in the normal sense. It is, in the words of a fellow blog friend who i have been kicking this around with…….it’s grandiosity. Real self esteem is way less fragile than grandiosity because it is based on a real feeling about yourself. Their castle of grandiosity is built on sand………they “know” it is. They SEE what real self esteem and real self respect is and they “know” they don’t have it and never will. They are not neurotic, true but I do think that they do have a sense of their inadequacy that they protect viciously through their narcissistic grandiose mask. AND they seek to prove someone else just as flawed as they really are by cutting them down to size by what ever means they can and do to PROVE that they are no different than them, less powerful, reduced to the nothingness that they are………by any means that it takes.
            Just because they know what they do is seen as wrong does not mean they know why they do it. They refuse to know why they do it, they can not/ will not see anything wrong inside themselves.
            Normal self esteem is built on something real, more solid……..and it is tempered with humility and the ability and willingness to admit when you are wrong or need to change something about yourself or your behavior. Through those measurable changes and choice to change self respect is built. REAL self esteem is not fragile like the narcissistic “self esteem”/ grandiosity so it doesn’t prompt someone to defend it at all costs or to do any of the other disordered things these people do.
            This is something I really FEEL I understand and that it’s kind of the missing link. It’s subtle and hard to put into words this way for me. The kind of thing I think we are actually in agreement on but the wording is not adequate to communicate it!!
            I’ll try again later and thank you for your input and discussion!

          8. Puddle, it’s more than semantics. And especially when it comes to presenting psychological frameworks to others, it’s important to choose words carefully and accurately. Words do have meanings. And as for the self-esteem issue, you’re echoing some of the traditional musings on the subject, which is why I spent so much time carefully defining the concepts of self-esteem and self-respect in my first two books – especially in “Character Disturbance.”

            I’m so glad that you’ve prompted such a great discussion and also that you’ve shared so many of your own good insights. Everyone chiming in is contributing their own wisdom as well. Great discussion, all!!

          9. When people talk about unhealthy self-esteem, usually the first thing that comes to mind is low self-esteem. How many actually consider that monstrously high estimation of oneself can be just as unhealthy?

            It’s an apt conclusion that evil can be defined as knowingly and uncaringly harming others in pursuit of gratifying one’s own pathological narcissism married with disavowal of responsibility.

          10. J……I think you are onto something i’m trying to say! They had grandiosity……not self esteem. It’s over compensation. it’s a fragile overcompensation to boot. Look at ME!!
            It’s sort of like the short guy driving around in the big monster truck but when he hops out all puffed up, every woman on the planet says to themselves…….”uh huh! Short guy complex”. And I personally am embarrassed for the little fella because I SEE that the emperor is not wearing any clothes. But they NEED that image SO badly because they have mistakenly overestimated the importance of height rather than the size of their character.
            I personally think that Spathtardx’s mother played a huge roll in his over blown ego and grandiosity and continues to do so. Who knows what her intentions were but it has created a monster and disabled him from EVER having a real relationship based on equality and love and mutual respect. He can not respect another person in the true sense of the word because he has no self respect and even though I loved him for my own reasons I really, when it comes down to it, respected very little about him.
            It’s all so transparent to me now and I actually have a sadness in my heart about the whole ball of wax. I did love him given the circumstances and wanted to love him more than I can describe but he wasn’t about to step up and be a real man. too afraid to put his fragile self image on the line.
            His mother actually called him “your highness” in front of me one time and I about puked. And she insists that the house IS his house because he helped build it. Um…….does a construction worker own every house that he built? No. If I take care of someone else’s dog does that make it mine? No.
            She is as sick as he is and I’m sure there is a reason (her own sickness) that she does everything she can to prop him and his grandiose over estimation of him self up. I call her house The Hotel Dr. Phil.

          11. The “concious” part of all of this is their continued insistence to maintain their narcissistic grandiose mask but I think they have walled off so deeply and strongly their ability to see themselves as they really are that this is where the term “malignant narcissism” comes in. At this end of the continuum there IS no reaching them. The choice has been made so many times, the rut is worn so deep, they are so invested in their false self…….they will NEVER give that up. They have gone through a permanent “pole shift” and now take pride in 180 degrees the opposite of what is typically humanness, The cancer of evil, self righteousness, willful disregard for others rights, etc. etc, etc,,,,has spread to far. They have sold their souls to the devil in a sense to protect their damaged narcissistic stunted egos. This is why they hang out with people who expect little to nothing real from them,,,,,,,,,,those are the people who will tolerate this low level of character development. Once you are around them for a period of time the cracks in the castle begin to show if you are expecting them to step up in a relationship as an adult.

          12. You said earlier that character-deficient people are pathetic. In a sense, I do agree. They know what kind of people they are, but they don’t care, because they don’t think that kind of stuff matters.

            I don’t think it’s a compensation. Sure, we could come up with millions of characterizations for severely integrity-deficient people and some could coincidentally describe some individual person somewhere. Generally I think they have an inflated self-esteem, because they think they’ve got it all figured out. Learning is a sort of submission, after all, now that I think about it. Since they stunt their learning, their character is, so to speak, malformed. They see, but disagree, because they think they know better. They think they know everything worth knowing.

          13. Great comments. One small clarification: it’s not so much that learning itself is a type of submission but rather that accepting and internalizing an important lesson is the penultimate submissive act. And it’s the very thing that grandiose and dominance-seeking types take such issue with and constitutes the principal roadblock in their character formation.

          14. Puddle, they do see what kind of people they are. They know what they are doing. They may even know why they are doing it, but they don’t sit around in introspection. Introspection is just not their word. They don’t reflect on it, but they are aware, highly aware.

          15. Thank you for clarification, Dr Simon.

            See, but disagree; know, but resist. If malshaped characters used a mantra, I bet this would be it.

          16. Dr. Simon…………..The selfesteem that they have is not real though. It’s based on nothing real………It’s grandiose and over inflated and very fragile. I do see the difference between self esteem and self respect and never did before I read your books BUT I contend that they have neither true self esteem or self respect. Their self esteem is all a frantic show…’s so transparent! I saw spathtardx display it! He puffed himself up about how he was so good at this or that but I could see he was putting it on.
            I’m afraid I’m not able to explain this in a way that is clear and you are right about words. I’ve hurried through my attempt here today and I don’t feel like i have found the right words to accurately explain what I’m trying to say. Everything about them is a lie including their self esteem. Just because they “”believe”” it themselves as well as convince SOME other people that it is true doesn’t make it so. Again……’s a mask.

          17. Okay, Puddle. I think I’ll approach this a different way and hope you’ll keep an open mind. Perhaps I haven’t been my most eloquent in this discussion, but the points are very important, so here goes:

            In my personal and professional life, I’ve encountered MANY individuals whose self-esteem is so intensely inflated and narcissism so pathologically malignant that I could barely stand to be in the same room with them. Yet a substantial number of these individuals not only had NO pretense about them, but also HAD AMPLE JUST REASON to regard themselves so highly. Many of them had done incredible things and had skill sets that would dwarf those of most others. So they indeed had not built their self-perceptions on a house of cards. What you describe CAN, and DOES happen SOMETIMES, especially when some degree of neurosis is present (remember, character disturbance exists along a continuum and it’s the neurotics who wear the “mask” whereas fully CD narcissists KNOW to the bone how great they are!). Just remember that what you describe is NOT ALWAYS the case and in a significant number of circumstances is NOT THE CASE AT ALL, which is what makes it so dangerous to make the assumption and thus overgeneralize. But the one thing that is ALWAYS COMMON to narcissists, whatever their other stripes, however, is the lack of room they have in their heart for the “contribution” of a “higher power” to their life and success. They might profess they recognize such a thing but they don’t really believe or feel it in their hearts. And it’s the absolute absence of humility that makes the difference. I address this perhaps more fully in “Judas Syndrome.” And, if you stay tuned to the series that begins on Friday about the building blocks of character development, I’ll be sure to pay it more attention.

          18. They think all they need is themselves.

            Then again, cultural values shouldn’t be ignored, either, like I recall being mentioned near the end of Character Disturbance. Since image, success and winning above all else is valued, aggressors have even more reason for their high estimation of themselves.

          19. Dr. Simon, I see this almost as a third possibility, neither the “traditional neurotic” view or entirely what you are saying but closer to what you are saying. It is not subconscious and it is willful. their tactics are consciously carried out but because they have “bypassed” the underlying shame and will not face their underlying lack of development, maturity, etc., they WILL NOT face these character issues, they REFUSE to face them, they are the way they are. They have pathologically identified themselves with this childish, selfish, entitled level of development and THINK they have every right to remain there.

            By semantics I mean, ” “deny” the suffering of their guilt” . I see the word meaning more like…..they push it away consciously. They REFUSE to see themselves as someone who should change so therefor push the process of the suffering of their guilt away. BUT, somehow in the process of doing this? they are able to make the people around them feel guilty or embarrassed or angry or whatever it is that they do not feel.
            My opinion is a weird gut feeling that I am having an incredibly hard time putting into words.
            Regarding their self esteem………..I have never been around someone with such a lack of self respect and such fragile yet over blown grandiose “self esteem” as Spathtardx.
            I tip toed around his fragile self esteem all the time but he projected this false sense of self esteem and confidence that was as fragile as a feather.
            He’s a 48 year old “man” who, in his mother’s words, Can not live alone… destroys him.

          20. I can see your perspective, based on your experience. But, if, as you say, this person simply “cannot” live alone (as opposed to “enjoys” always having someone to exploit) and it “destroys” him because of his “fragile” nature, then the likelihood is that he has some neurotic as well as CD features but is not a full-blown CD or Sociopath. The other possibility, of course, is that the interpretation of his behavior pattern is wrong. And because the “semantics” of perspective actually hold more importance than we sometimes ascribe (insofar as judging ourselves and others correctly and therefore reducing our risk of entering or remaining in dysfunctional relationships), if you’re sure he’s truly sociopathic, I’d suggest you reconsider the perspective with which you view him.

          21. J……they are parasitic though. If all they needed was themselves then wouldn’t they be independent? More loner types? They can’t STAND to be alone. They need others to distract them, entertain them, keep them company and more than anything else, keep their false sense of self intact. It’s so fragile that it takes constant maintenance and repair! But their narcism makes them think that they are the only ones who matter! It’s all about them and what they want they can justify to get by any means??

          22. In short, they have built themselves up to be the Sun, in their own minds, around which others are supposed to orbit. Isn’t that an apt metaphor?

            They have built up beliefs that enable them to be the aggressors they are. If there’s something they lie to themselves about, it’s that they alone matter, because they are so great.

            True self-image is something we experience to be true. We feel we’ve actually realized a truth about ourselves. Even if someone tries to hold up a false self-image, doesn’t it feel a little false? Doesn’t it feel forced? Isn’t that a clue to a true self-image obscured behind?

            Isn’t true self-image something we feel, for better or for worse, to be true?

            Aggressors don’t feel that aggressing against others goes against their self-image in any way. After all, their aggressive tendencies have been reinforced and that’s why their self-image feels right to them. They’ve gotten reason after another to feel that what they do works and therefore it wouldn’t make sense for them to change for people, ahem, not so great as they are.

    3. Its OK Puddle, I can filter out words I don’t like! But thanks for the warning.

      It’s not so much the swear words but more the overall attitude that I take into account.

      If there is an attitude of “it’s ALL ‘their’ fault and always will be” I don’t fully trust the site. I know I need to recognise and deal with my side of the problem too – even if it’s just to become stronger and less of a ‘soft target’!

      Also if the attitude is “get even” I will disregard a lot of what is said. I have no interest in becoming as bad as an abuser.

      I found the article ‘narcissists suck’ quite helpful actually, though there were aspects of the attitudes I’ve outlined above. It’s about filtering out what doesn’t help or ring true isn’t it? Not throwing out the baby with the bathwater!


      1. Exactly Rose……….Sometimes I might not like HOW something is said but there is a message in WHAT is said that I “wait for” before I throw the baby out with the bath water.
        I have no interest in getting even with that looser by stooping to his level. He is creating his own mess nicely enough himself and has his whole life.
        The problem >>>>In my opinion<<<< in these cases is it IS all their fault when the victim never encountered someone like this before. I'm not usually a sitting duck and mostly I do stand up for myself. I did with him! But I was under a "spell", I swear i was Rose. He just kept feeding me his poisonous deception and I couldn't imagine that someone could or would do that all the while INSISTING that he loved me. I was being pulled in two different directions and grew weaker and weaker. I can see that now but during it, My inner warrior and protector just couldn't keep up.
        If I were to meet him today? The relationship would end the first day///////I SEE in hindsight, knowing what I know now, that the flagS were already flying on day one.

        1. Rose, I saw the red flags from day one but i did not know what they meant. I’ve been in bad relationships in my past but with no one that was as sick and twisted and pathetic as this guy. It’s certainly been educational experience but what I have learned is so disturbing that the impact of that has been traumatic in and of it’s self.

          1. Puddle, I hadn’t appreciated quite what you meant by ‘red flags’ before, so I just looked up the website that has a list of them as sent in by readers of the site.

            I was an eye opener! I realised 20 of them applied perfectly to me and my husband’s relationship!! what a shock!

            Sobering. I know I still need to think for myself, and not just take stuff on board without discernment – like I used to – but definitely food for thought!


          2. Rose….just keep an open mind and you will learn and see what you need to decipher your particular situation. I applaud your bravery to investigate!

    1. I’ve read many of the articles on the Heartless Bitches’ site myself and it’s extremely descriptive, especially regarding people, whose very personalities cause them to induce headaches in others.

      In some places, though, there are descriptions of abusers/manipulators/controllers having self-hate issues, poor self-esteem or repercussions of trauma. Sure, there can be manipulative people, who also have those kinds of mental issues, but it’s not a given. To the site’s credit, it never downplays abusive or harmful behavior and how unhealthy it can be to a relationship partner. It never downplays how nasty abusers can be.

      1. J, I do think they hate themselves and they envy those who don’t hate themselves. I really see how much envy comes into this and wanting to destroy or assimilate what they don’t have and never will have. SO many aspects to the whole twisted disgusting mess. It’s like they have dirty diapers, won’t change them themselves and envy you because yours are clean and hate you because you won’t change theirs like mommy did. Wow! Do I sound disgusted?? LOL

        1. There is some aspect of shame involved here but I don’t quite understand it. I have read about it on another web site but can’t really “get” it. Bypassed shame. They bypass their shame and don’t feel it by projecting it on you………..somehow………

          1. Dangerous psychobable I’ve heard all my professional life. And as I’ve said before, there are indeed cases where such notions have some validity, but those cases are the rare exception, which is why promoting such perspectives in this day and age is so dangerous.

        1. In my case It doesn’t matter if he hates himself or not………he is a terrible person who has been horribly cruel to me. If he hates himself , I would never accept that as an excuse for his lack of self mastery.
          Nowhere on that site did they seem to be giving them a get out of jail pass. the basic advise they give is RUN and don’t look back.

          1. While a site might not give perpetrators a free pass and the outwardly and unequivocally condemn abusive behavior, they still sometimes promote notions that are dangerous for victims and potential victims to entertain.

  8. their “”self esteem”” comes from some false sense of grandiosity?? Maybe? It’s certainly not based in anything real. My ex was the biggest screw up imaginable! I thought I loved him and I would still love him in spite of that fact but not in the new light I see him in, a manipulative con man monster.

    1. Puddle, let me chime in, please.

      It’s always felt false to me that nasty people would deep down suffer from hollow feelings of inadequacy.

      An abusive personality is an abusive personality even if there were some legitimate self-hate/self-esteem/whatever issues involved.

      If anything, it all comes back to their sense of entitlement. Yes, it’s unearned high self-esteem and it may not be “based on anything real”. You could say they have “relinquished themselves to live in the dark”, but for them it means a whole different thing than it would for someone, who’s sunk into the depths of self-blame and self-rejection.

      Someone, who keeps on abusing allows themselves to keep on doing it, because they operate on some twisted belief. They do intellectually know right from wrong, but they don’t care. If someone was able to bring a level of pain into others’ lives that Dr Simon has said comes from someone with horrendous character AND genuinely stay oblivious to it, wouldn’t they have to be psychotic?

      1. Your question echoes exactly the thinking of Cleckley when he coined the term “psychopath.” Observing the utter irrationality of some individuals’ lack of conscience, remorse, pathological entitlement, and rampant and even unnecessary lying, he conjectured that such severe character dysfunction must be a form of insanity – a notion rooted in some logic, but which we have now abundant evidence is incorrect.

      2. They are oblivious only in that they are disconnected from the part of themselves that feels. If they are closed off from feeling then they not only don’t feel negative emotions but they don’t feel positive emotions either……..not at a level that could discontinue their behavior. Feelings are feigned, shallow, unrewarding. They either CAN’T feel what normal empathetic humans feel or they WON’T allow the feelings. They are walled off from the feelings that promote most people to feel bad about doing something wrong and want to change their behavior.
        I can get a taste of this ability when i think of my childhood. I was So self determined and stubborn and “tough”. I was dripping in tough me attitude. I used to refuse to be given Novocain for dental fillings! I’m too tough for that and no one is going to tell me otherwise……You’ll see! And I would ignore the pain. I would just tough it out. I NEVER had Novocain for one single filling ! I think that is possibly what CAs and Spaths are either innately able to do or have taught themselves to do.They bypass their feelings. I do believe they know what dismal failures they are …..oh let me count the ways………yet project an arrogant false self esteem to mask their true dismalness and choose to do wrong because it’s what they are good at. I don’t know if i’m saying this right. It’s like a false sense of power that an ordinary person could never assume because of their ability to feel shame, regret, love, joy, empathy, compassion, guilt…………Spath’s don’t have to be bothered with such inconvenient feelings.

        1. You can not close off one set of feelings without closing off all feelings, so I’ve heard. It’s like putting head phones on……ear protectors………it muffles ALL the sounds.

  9. In order to LOVE you have to be willing to feel sadness, loss, etc………A spath has closed himself off to sadness, loss, all the negative emotions that make us human, vulnerable to emotional pain. But he has also closed himself off to real love and caring in the’s like there is this human but the heart has been removed and they have to fill the void with all sorts of Spath toys and they don’t care how they get them?

    1. Yes, some “compartmentalize” feelings to an incredible degree and with incredible precision. This is a remarkable ability, common to many disturbed characters, but which reaches its ultimate manifestation in psychopaths. However, others are without feelings in the first place, with no need to compartmentalize. But they can astutely recognize such feelings in others and know how to mimic them, even though they don’t actually possess them.

      1. One wonders…how, when and why they have this ability. Im wondering if it is so multifaceted, may possible reasons they can and do do this to varying degrees………
        Just seems like a mystery that could never be solved to a satisfactory degree, which I suppose is why these people are still under investigation…………….and should be blasted off to another planet.

      2. Yes, they mimic them! The better to eat you with my dear! All drama used to manipulate the unsuspecting victim, the sticky sweet bait.

    2. There are many, many models of human mind and not everyone works the same way. Sometimes we pay too much attention to one part of mindscape(such as emotions) that we ignore or downplay some others(such as attitudes, thought processes and personality structures).

      While I understand what you’re getting at, Puddle, I have to say this: Just because something is or has been true for you doesn’t mean it’s automatically true for someone else.

    1. Puddle, when I first read of your recounting of how you lasted without any Novocain, almost immediately followed by your view that Spaths and aggressors bypass their feelings, I jumped to conclusions. I hope you can excuse me.

      There are so many different types of personalities with different structures and characterized by different factors(like predisposition to this or that or learned thinking or readiness for emotional response about certain things). In disturbed characters, don’t even poorly managed emotions rise from distorted thinking in some way? So I figure that when they have negative feelings, it’s often related to how they fret that consequences are about to catch up with them or how they are having it hard or how they don’t have whatever it is they want right this minute or how they’re supposed to act as they please.

    2. That wasn’t clear enough. First I thought you were also refering to how you’d bypass your feelings, but that was just a hasty conclusion on my part. Never mind.

      1. J, I was using my story as a sort of example………probably not the best example. I think that maybe there distorted thinking is part of the way they fuel their ability to destroy another human being. They find things to diminish the other person, reasons why they are undeserving of respect and kindness, maybe in many ways they can convince themselves. Spathtardx definitely had a superior attitude and he is intelligent. But he is a “dumb fox”. As they say, it takes a smart fox to act dumb.
        He was very closed mouthed,,,,,,,,I now think that is because if he would have been open and shared how he really felt, thought, what he really liked, wanted, etc, etc, etc,,,,,,,,,it would have been game over. I probably would have dumped his sorry self on the curb long long ago. It’s just so disgusting. How pathetic do you have to be to deceive people about who you really are in order to get what you want from them?? What have you really gotten? nothing that came to you honestly.
        I hope he rots in his mother’s basement marinated in cigarette smoke and vodka. WHat a dirtbag. Is it wrong of me to be so harsh? Im so hurt I can’t even put it into words. I saw someone i’ve know for a while today. He’s a guy who has always been attracted to me but he is with another woman so we have just always been friends. Long story…………anyhow I told him about a lot of what happened and he just sat there in amazement. I got done and he asked me his name……he was just disgusted……. What an ***hole!!! He couldn’t believe I didn’t figure this all out earlier but I told him………I thought I loved him D,,,,,,,I really felt like I wanted to be with him. I was totally sincere and every time I think about how much i looked forward to seeing him it makes me cry. It’s the most disgusting concept to know that the feelings I had were for no one real. A total fake, a liar, deceiver, manipulator……….someone with zero value. It’s horrible.

      2. I can’t see how that kind of experience wouldn’t leave feelings of hurt, anger and resentment in its wake

        The kind of person you describe is the truest loser there can be. Also like the expression “Spathtardx”.

        1. J, it boggles the mind how someone could be so maliciously crewel. I honestly thought he just didn’t understand and I would explain and explain myself and my feelings and my needs and desires……..thinking if I just explained it in a way he would understand the light bulb would come on………
          I am almost certain now that he knew exactly what I wanted, needed, expected and that his lack of compliance was all part of his game. Torture……….emotional torture. I can only imagine why or how he felt justified treating me like that.
          Yeah, Spathtardx = the biggest looser on the planet.
          I came so close to seriously considering suicide earlier in the year. It was during the dark months here, everything was piling up on my heart, mind, etc…….I was in SO much pain…not that I’m pain free now but it was bad.. If I would have done it? it probably would have been the ultimate reward for him.

        2. It’s absolutely a good thing you didn’t do it.

          The kind of person, who’d be that deliberately vile towards another person and doesn’t take the much needed long, hard look at himself because he thinks of himself as a great person despite knowing how much his actions hurt is a loser indeed.

          1. J and Dr. Simon and all………….Im reading a highly recommended book right no called People Of The Lie by M. Scott Peck, MD who is the author of The Road Less Traveled.
            I am only a third of the way into it and I can’t recommend it enough. I keep reading things i’d like to post here but it would take forever because there is so much. PLEASE read it J and Dr. Simon, I’d be curious to know if you have read it and if so, what your opinion of it is.

          2. Not only have I read People of the Lie (many times), but I also mention it in my first book. I even had a chance to discuss some of the book’s content with Peck one time before he died. And while I find a great deal to like in the book (as I mention in ISC), I take issue with his assertion that “exposing” covert folks is the panacea he implies it is. I questioned him about this and other matters and he admitted that much of the casehistory “support” he gives to his perspectives is not always as firmly rooted in truth as he implies it is in his book. That is, he altered stories in a much greater way than to just maintain anonymity, etc., but rather to lend further credibility to his already firmly held beliefs, many of which I find valid, but some of which I question. Still, the book is a good read and a valuable one. Some of the life lessons he learned an passes on and some principles he shares are well worth contemplating.

  10. i will quote this because it so good: “But the process of personality change is a painful one. It’s like a death. The old personality pattern must die for a new personality to take it’s place. The evil are pathologically attached to the status quo of their personalities, which in their narcissism they consciously regard as perfect. ”
    -People Of The Lie, footnote pg 74

  11. J, i see what you are saying about their belief about themselves being reinforced.
    DR. SIMON, J………..It’s all so confusing to me! I sometimes really feel/ see that I’m trying to understand something I just can’t understand. It’s kind of like math for me. I just do NOT have the mind for it. It’s like a foreign entity and my brain responds in a similar way to all of this! It just slumps over in defeat. Maybe I’m to the point with CA’s and Spaths and the like………….as with math……….that I just have to give up trying to understand the “whys” and accept that I know enough that I can get by (with math) and avoid them (with Spaths/ CAs)!

    1. Hang in there, Puddle. You “get” more than you may think. We’re dealing with complex issues here, and there are no simple answers. Let me add, that experiencing “reinforcement” for dysfunctional beliefs/behaviors is indeed part of the picture. Remember, it’s also not just about what is learned but also what fails to be learned.

      1. Dr. Simon…….thanks for the encouragement but It is a very frustrating subject by it’s nature. AND Im not good at learning and communicating in writing. Im more of a hands on, sit down and talk about it kind of gal! LOL
        I can guarantee that in the nature vs nurture department, this guy has been hit hard in the nurture department, just like my brother. I wouldn’t discount the nature part of it either for either one of them but don’t know a thing about my brothers father, or mine for that matter, because we are adopted. I will say this, I have witnessed the nurture aspect of both of them, my brother more so than my ex, obviously.
        My mother allowed him to manipulate her for money till the day she died and my father was completely uninvolved in either of our lives on a personal level. The ball was not dropped, it was dropped and kicked across the field. It makes me sad to think about what a mess parents can make of a child’s life, how deeply they can cripple a child because they are more interested in their own desires than the ultimate welfare of their child. It’s criminal in some cases.
        I know this is easy to say because he is not my son but if I was my ex’s mother I’d tell him to get his own place, come visit anytime you like and pull yourself together and start living like a real man, not a teenager. he’s 48 and he is bright. When she dies,,,,,,,,,he is going to be in a world of hurt. Maybe one of his sisters will change his diapers for the rest of his life, thank god it won’t be me.

  12. Dr. Simon………I have a feeling that his mother’s statement that he can not live alone, it destroys him, is a faulty assessment on her part and that she has swallowed his line of excuses and pity ploys hook line and sinker. i might guess here that she swallows it willingly and probably actually encourages it for her own reasons.
    He does not want to grow up and stand on his own two feet……..not can’t……wont. And as long as she is standing in the wings to save him from his just growing up dues and responsibilities……….you get the picture. There are too many signs indicating that this is the case and it’s sickening to me when a parent cripples their child or enables them to remain irresponsible. I watched it happen with my younger brother and he is crippled to this day. I have VERY little to do with him, hate it to think about how irresponsible he is and how mush he has manipulated and milked my parents. BUT, i do love him in a sense. I feel a sadness for him in spite of the fact that I don’t trust him AT ALL! There is a parallel going on here with my ex and my brother, an uncanny one.

  13. Dr. Simon!!! I just reread your post and I think where we are missing each other is this…….. When you say that many of the people you have worked with had reason for their high self esteem…….. Yes, in SOME ways the ex does too. He is VERY bright. The thing I’m talking about is more in the character department. Maybe it’s more in the self respect department that they are lacking and the overblown self esteem is a compensation for the lack of an ability to love, care for others, do the right thing by others as well and yourself? They esteem themselves highly but underneath it all they are lacking in the character qualities and strengths (human substance) to be able to temper their self esteem with humility.
    Ahhhhhrgh! i know what I’m wanting to say but I can’t sum it up in words!!
    You can be a brilliant mathematician and think you are a demi God because of it but still lack all the human qualities that comprise good character. And, the majority of these types are men who tend to be more left brain dominant so would tend to put a higher value on “doing” rather than “being”………………..Again….thoughts coming too fast to put into words! I’m onto something here but I can’t express it.

    1. Exactly, Puddle!! And now, it’s apparent that you more than “get it” but also that we’re both really on the same page. You make exactly the point I emphasize in both of the first two books about just how self-esteem becomes inflated! I probably erred by separating the discussion on esteem issues in Character Disturbance by first dealing with it in the neurosis vs. character disturbance section and discussion, and then again later in the self-esteem vs. self-respect section. But I think if you re-visit that a few times as well as the 6 or 7 articles I’ve posted on this site and the companion UK site, you’ll find much to help clarify things.

      1. Yes, I think we are closer. I think there is something still not quite lining up but I’m not sure! I’m kind of in over my head at the moment. I need to go out in the yard and do some weeding or something mindless and see what pops up!
        It does FEEL to me like there is a missing link of some sort. the glue that holds it all together BUT, in reality, the only real life case I have to go on is my relationshi* with my ex and you have hundreds or thousands of people you have dealt with.
        A personal involvement IS a little different than a therapeutic one too though and could affect my experience and opinion in a number of ways.
        I hope you don’t take my argumentativeness in any kind of hostile or disrespectful way. I think the world of you and value your opinion and experience very highly. Im just trying to REALLY get this and I have a very determined mind and will to really understand.

        1. Addition………….Yes, I think we are closer. I think there is something still not quite lining up but I’m not sure!
          I THINK……but I’m not sure! LOL its all swimming around in there!

        2. I don’t assume anything negative at all. Besides, my work and this blog are not about my personal adulation but rather the empowerment of people. I in fact learn things all the time from the great comments I get. And I hope you equally excuse my straightforward and sometimes possibly blunt manner. Honest debate is vital to uncovering the truth!

          1. I will keep that all in mind in both directions Dr. Simon. I am always very concerned about inadvertently expressing myself in an offensive way. The more I respect someone, the more concerned I am. I know this about myself……my brain gets ahead of my mouth but my mouth doesn’t put on the brakes! or is it the other way around?? LOL
            My best to you always,

  14. I missed the previous articles but based on this summary it seems that everyone except psychopaths and sociopaths have a personality disorder. I have read much on the Phase III disorders and find nothing to coorelate to these so called definitions of disorders. According to Dr. Simon, is anyone without a personality disorder? If so we can probably invent one for unemployed shrinks who are overly verbose and confused about reality.

    1. Sorry that anything written here could allow anyone to draw an inference that I’m promoting the notion that psychopaths and sociopaths are exceptions to a general rule that everyone has a personality disorder. But inasmuch as you acknowledge that you haven’t read the numerous other articles and might also have not read the distinctions I make in my books between personality style vs. disturbance, vs. disorder, and the rationale I give for the conceptualization scheme I offer to help empower average persons who’ve been involved with impaired characters, I trust that should you choose to familiarize yourself more fully with the material, my true position and the nature of my purpose will become clear.

  15. Hello Dr. Simon, I want to thank you for your work and especially for your interactivity here. I was raised by an alcoholic father who showed a lot of bipolar and NPD characteristics, and the classic 70’s “Supermom”. I, too, have bipolar II, and a long history of borderline pd. At the same time, I have always been on the path of self transformation, and I’m always researching sites like yours to learn more.

    I’d like to jump into the conversation about self esteem. I can’t remember who said it, but it was from “The Compassionate Brain” on Basically, self esteem is based on competition: may the best man win. Self compassion, however, is about resilience. It’s about noting that no one is perfect, but it’s how we respond to the consequences of our actions that define our characters.

    The presenters followed this observation up with neurological research that proves the brain operates differently when doing “self esteem” vs. “self compassion”. The former mobilizes the dopamine drive system: more, better, now! While the latter initiates the nurturing, opening, connecting areas of the limbic system.

    The presenters also ranted pretty severely on how the self esteem project implemented in schools has backfired into a Narcissism Epidemic.

    It used to be thought that the only way to create a narcissist was to traumatise him so badly that his ego disintegrated–MK Ultra brainwashing style. And I’ve met at least one or two people that’s happened to (ritual abuse and multigenerational violent incest). But more and more entitlement narcissists are being created in droves by our culture’s cult of self esteem.

    I appreciated your article on 3 surefire ways to create a narcissist. With my family history and emotional instability, I have to take special precautions to raise my profoundly gifted son without narcissism.

    In fact, it has been quite the journey, recognizing my own character disturbances mixed in with the brain chemistry and neuroses. I will never forget the time I read “Don’t Defeat Yourself With Emotional Manipulation” I found it while upset about how I thought others were treating me, when all of the sudden, I realized that I was the manipulative abuser, too. I think THAT is the insight abusers lack: it’s always someone else’s fault “making” them do it. I know I behaved poorly and I’ve had to make amends where I could, suck up the humiliation, and work on self improvement to stop doing those passive aggressive and covert aggressive behaviors.

    It’s so incredibly hard for me to say, “I’m mad at you” instead of “are you mad at me?”! Which may not sound “abusive” on the surface, but a woman crying is very heavy stuff for the man who loves her to witness, and I controlled my man by crying for too long. Finally, he can have his own emotions and emotional reactions without ME trampling all over them. Well, I’m not perfect yet, but I am improving.

    I feel that your work helps me to continue that improvement and to better help others to do the same.


    1. Thanks for the kind words and the helpful comments, Cat. And I’m sure the things you’ve shared will resonate with many readers. I’m not sure the definition of self-esteem you mention here matches the framework I prefer all that well. It seems more like “competition” would factor into the self-respect equation a little better than self-esteem, at least within the framework I use. That said, however, I can see where – based on the kinds of things our culture seems to value – there’s a competitive element involved in the self-appraisal people engage in with respect to their natural endowments, also.

  16. I simply want to say I am just new to blogging and seriously enjoyed you’re web page. Likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You definitely have remarkable article content. Kudos for sharing your webpage.

  17. I’d think one would update the information they publish regarding a very real, very difficult and extremely life threatening mental illness after the diagnostic criteria had been rewritten and published. It’s inly been one year since DSM 5 came out; such changes include removing previously stigmatized diagnostic features such as self mutilation as non suicidal self injury is now considered a separate diagnosis (note: it is no longer appropriate to frame self injury as anything close to manipulative, either) for example.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *