Their attraction is magnetic, but their personality combination spells utter destruction.
The relationship was no longer serving the needs of your partner and they have ended their commitment to you. It may have been your decision, or it may have been your decision disguised as their decision. Perhaps you were constantly checking his phone and one day, he flew into a rage about it and broke up with you. Everybody wants to know what happened.
The short version, just at the end. You tell people you checked his phone once or twice because you had a sneaking suspicion he was texting a woman from work. And he was, except that it was about work and he broke up with you. Out of nowhere.
The story gains momentum, gets repeated, it was never your fault. Before you know it, you are discussing what kind of person would break up so suddenly? You reach for the DSM-V manual and begin searching for an explanation about his behavior. Could it have been a personality disorder?
There are so many lovely disorders to choose from. Life-long disorders your ex will never recover from. Disorders which doomed your relationship from the start and will prevent them ever meeting anyone else. Look at Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of the requirements is an inability to maintain long-term relationships, which your ex just demonstrated. If only your ex would get help with a therapist or psychoactive drug, maybe it would work. Someone needs to tell them there is help out there!
You write an email offering your ex some advice. “I have come to realise it wasn’t you that ended the relationship, but the patterns of grandiose thinking, sense of entitlement and lack of empathy characteristic of your narcissistic personality disorder. I’m here to help. Call me.”
They don’t call you. Who wouldn’t want to overcome a life-long disease? A narcissist, that’s who! You tell everyone, especially your mutual friends, your ex is a ticking bomb just walking around un-diagnosed. What about an intervention with all our mutual friends? Let’s start a campaign. Would crowd-funding be out of the question? We could raise money for ten sessions and a firm diagnosis.
You read the list of criteria again for narcissism. “Believes that he or she is special and unique” is one of them. Then you realise you feel like that, as well. You look for a less relatable offense. “Exaggerates achievements and talents.” He certainly did that. You are also guilty of this. “Excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self.” This is getting tricky, because you worry what people think of you all the time.
You successfully diagnose yourself with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Wait, it says that narcissists never see themselves this way and are resistant to treatment. You search around for another personality disorder to diagnose yourself with. Now you are kind of depressed but extremely well researched about this. Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend. You stop researching what your issues might be and go back on the offensive.
His new girlfriend has no idea what’s in her future. Maybe you should warn her via a Facebook message. You will generously explain her current boyfriend is a pathological narcissist, which is hard to spot. It’s all about early detection and she is going to be so grateful. You just want her to be safe. To have a happy life. You notice there are baby photos on her Facebook page. In the time you have polished your diagnostic skills, they have had a child together. The child is so unaware.
When people ask you if you have a boyfriend, you say you are not ready. You are recovering from an abusive ex. That gets their attention. He was comorbid with borderline/narcissistic personality disorder on the autism spectrum. It’s rare, but luckily you caught it in time.
You don’t get out much. People speak to you and you hear clusters. These are subset patterns of behavior which lurk under criteria. You wonder if you should see a therapist. You do. You ask the therapist if they think you have a personality disorder and they tell you no. It’s a relief. You get an ice-cream on the way home and eat it in the car. It’s been years since you ate ice-cream in the car, watching people stroll by. It’s nice. It’s a nice feeling. Your therapist said underneath the disorder, under the criteria, under the clusters there is something else. She said that’s where you are. That’s where you can live.
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Ever heard of someone described as a narcissist? This term comes from a type of Personality Disorder (PD). Many people don’t realise it but PDs are amongst the most common of all psychiatric diagnosis. Therefore, chances are pretty high, that you know someone who has this or at least shows some PD traits.
There are 10 types of PDs which are classified by 3 distinct subtypes; Suspicious, Emotional and Impulsive or Anxious. The following is a brief explanation of each type of PD:
Paranoid personality disorder
The main characteristic here, is their inability to trust others. Therefore, they will vigilantly be looking for betrayal and mistrust. They lack the capacity to get close to others due to their suspicious nature.
Schizoid personality disorder
There people are chronic loners. They find little enjoyment in life and can be emotionally and intimately void.
Schizotypal personality disorder
People with this disorder can be odd and eccentric. They often use words from a made up language, are preoccupied with having special powers and feel anxious and paranoid in social settings.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
This type of person is classically egocentric and will have been diagnosed with conduct disorder before they reach 15. They have no sense of guilt, will do anything to get what they want, lack consequential thought, strive for success and will be reckless and impulsive. If you’ve ever been ripped off by someone, chances are they have ASPD or at least identify with these traits.
Emotional and Impulsive
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Mood swings, recklessness, impulsiveness, emotional, clingy; are all characteristics of BPD. They would likely have a history in self harm, substance abuse or suicide.
Histrionic personality disorder
If you know someone who thrives on drama, being the centre of attention, is over emotional, needs to entertain you and constantly seeks the approval of others; then they are exhibiting classic signs of this disorder.
Narcissistic personality disorder
Much like ASPD, except they feel they deserve special treatment and are above everyone else. They will resent success in others, dislike being ignored and rely on others for their self worth.
Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder
With a chronic fear of rejection and inferiority, these poor souls avoid all types of social situations, including having to go to work. They expect disapproval and criticism, and feel a need to hide away to avoid it. They are often extremely isolated and lonely.
Dependent personality disorder
Due to chronic low self confidence, these sufferers need others more than any other type of person. They are unable to function, make decisions, take responsibility, be alone and are totally passive and submissive. They are almost childlike in their need for protection and care.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)
Similar to OCD (ritualistic need to perform repetitive behaviours) which many people have heard of, OCPD is characterised by a desire to control themselves and their environment. They expect the worst, often hoard things for fear of throwing items away, have unreachable expectations of themselves and others and fully believe they know best. If you have seen the TV show “Hoarders”, about individuals who are unable to disregard everyday items and what many considered rubbish; then you have witnessed what can classically be defined as OCPD.
Most PDs are identified by loved ones or those around them. Suffers are generally unaware of the severity of their traits and the impact it has on others. As a result, it is often those around them who demand mental health intervention and this is when a diagnosis is made.
If you think you or someone you love might have a PD, head to this website for further information: nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/personalitydisorders.html
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By Kim Chartres