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).
If you believe many of the things you read and hear about these days, just about everyone suffers from some kind of addiction. And despite how commonplace it’s become, I’m always a bit shocked (and outraged) when some disturbed character claims victim status by blaming his or her reprehensible conduct on an addiction of some … Continue reading Addiction, Codependence, PTSD, Anxiety and Self-Esteem
A person’s use pattern and prospects for “recovery” are always heavily influenced by their personality dynamics, which is why it’s so essential for character issues to be taken into account in treatment.
There’s a dynamic interaction between the borderline individual’s innate predispositions and the traumatic early history they have typically experienced. It’s hard enough for a person who tends to react strongly and erratically, tends to think dialectically, and is prone to mentally splitting unitary realities into polar opposites to get a solid sense of what the world is like and how to deal with it. But when you put such an individual into an environment where there is actually is no safety or consistency, you have a recipe for genuine disaster when it comes to personality formation and solidification.
True “acting out” is the expression through actions of an emotional conflict a person can’t consciously own. Unfortunately, these days, even professionals erroneously use the term to describe all sorts of misbehavior. But most of the time, “acting-up” is NOT acting-out.
The question of “awareness” is inherently confusing, partly because our understanding of it has been heavily influenced historically by traditional notions about the unconscious mind, and public acceptance of the idea that most human behavior is motivated by factors mostly outside of a person’s conscious awareness. But as most people who have been involved with a disturbed character already know, a person can be fully conscious of their behavior and motivations yet not necessarily particularly mindful, attentive, thoughtful, or considerate. And that’s perhaps at least in part why there always seems to be such debate about how “aware” disturbed character’s really are.
Many of the things we were taught to view as defensive behaviors are more rightfully viewed as habitual responsibility-avoidance behaviors and tactics of impression management, manipulation, and control.
A little anxiety or apprehension would go a long way toward inhibiting disturbed characters from doing that hurtful thing to their co-worker or saying that hateful thing to their partner. But alas, these folks are very different from neurotics in many ways, especially on the dimension of anxiety.
If someone’s behavior is wrong or harmful, the rationale they offer for it is totally irrelevant.
Whether you happen to struggle with anxiety or you’re in a relationship with a difficult person, it’s important to recognize the vicious cycles that fuel your difficulties and commit to breaking them at their earliest, weakest point.