Why Distinctions in Personality Disorders are Important When Recovering From NPD Abuse

Despite feeling very much healed from the NPD abuse situation, from time to time I view other forums to keep abreast and in touch with the issues that are affecting victims in order to remind myself of the kinds of thoughts, feelings, questions, and changes they’re going through.  For me, it does feel like it’s an old chapter in an old dusty book.  I thank God I was able to heal, and I have every confidence that most victims with the right education and support can also heal and overcome.

Many argue the semantics of the Axis II Cluster B disorders and in maintaining focus on this niche group “Narcissists” I have held it is important to also have a general idea of what the other personality disorders entail because the symptoms oftentimes do overlap which is what I surmise was behind the APA’s feeling that reclassification was needed, although I don’t believe their changes are of benefit to anyone.  It used to be 5 of 9 traits and you could call it a label. Today they have a whole other method which I believe will help the FEW who do somehow end up on a shrink’s couch EVADE diagnosis even more.  That’s my UNprofessional opinion; however, despite not having the credentials, you only need common sense to figure this out if you read more about what they’re doing.  That of course is perhaps better left for another blog post.

Many forums rather than focusing on a particular specific disorder rather enjoy grouping the major PD’s all under one umbrella.  I see the logic and rationale behind this as disorder is disorder, abuse is abuse and when you are looking at shared key traits such as:  Unable to attach, cannot love, lacks remorse and empathy, superficial charm, abusive etc…the words don’t really make much of a difference it’s all the same; however, where distinctions ARE important are in the early stages for someone trying to escape or freshly out of the relationship because yes…when you’re dealing with someone on the spectrum, death is a possibility if you don’t really understand how to protect yourself.  That is not meant as a scare tactic.  Not everyone on the spectrum is a cold-blooded killer…but the fact that they lack empathy or a conscience in some of the cases of personality disorders does present a risk.

The distinctions become important when it is necessary to understand the MOTIVATION behind the individual’s actions.  Are they reacting due to fear thus causing their narcissistic traits to surface? For example: In the case of a borderline, NPD can be a co-morbid condition or it can present as a TRAIT to a varying degree (sometimes to a very high degree so much so it is as if you are dealing with a full-blown narcissist).  Why is this important to question?  Because when you know what is motivating them you can to a certain extent figure out what will work to keep them at bay and keep YOU safe.  I think it would be fair to say at the root of all of their behavior regardless where they fall on the spectrum is this need for control. What becomes a skill in dealing with them is understanding how to get them off your trail. I’ve seen many enter a forum and speak of how the Narcissist just can’t seem to let them go…how he keeps coming back but I opine that is not a true narcissist.

With a pure-blooded narcissist once they leave, they’re not coming back anytime soon.  When a narcissist leaves, he’s already secured his supply.  You’ve done your job and they’re done with you.  Since they’re so full of themselves and their image, when a narcissist leaves you – you simply aren’t good enough for them anymore…you were out of their mind when you were with them, it was a one on one relationship.  YOU with yourself!

When I read these entries I can only shake my head, because then the whole audience chimes in and they all begin to talk about how the Narcissist just can’t seem to let them go – and that so is NOT narcissism…see, a narcissist is too involved with HIM/HERSELF to even think about you…your purpose is to be an object no more no less…now give it some cooling off time…yes they may cycle back if the pickings are slim or if you’re just such easy prey they can come back for a piece of you. When I say a piece of you, I mean a booty call.  In a normal healthy relationship when it’s over its over so we can’t really blame the narc once he’s gone if he’s able to creep in once we are made aware of the dynamics.  Once aware, if we slip, that’s on us and we have to be accountable for that.  I’ll say it one more time…it AIN’T love.  I do acknowledge there are plenty of variables and nothing is black or white but for the most part let me dispel that ego driven myth some enjoy flattering themselves with…he’s not thinking about you and if he’s gone you can pretty much bank on the fact he’s gone for good until his new supply loses it’s appeal.   That will take at minimum a few months but they might try to test you, only because they’re driven by their ego and need to have conquests.  If you give it to them, they will take it.  But don’t be fooled. Narcissists can be just as ruthless as a sociopath or you might be dealing with one that has a very strong level of sociopathic traits…

I caution everyone to take a full inventory and try to be as realistic as possible before jumping to conclusions and labeling.  There is a distinction between an asshole and a personality disordered individual.  When hurt and harmed it is easy to jump to these conclusions and so much is happening mentally.  Oftentimes when engaging in a forum one can get caught up in the whole ‘drama’ cycle.  That is not to say the issues are ‘dramatic’ they are very real, genuine and true – but it is also important to keep in mind the power of suggestion is also very alluring to someone who feels they’ve been harmed.  Not everyone who is an abuser is necessarily suffering from a personality disorder.  For example, someone suffering from PTSD could react violently and PTSD is not on the Axis II Cluster B spectrum, but rather categorized as an anxiety disorder.  The bottom line, abuse is not to be tolerated and labels in that respect do not matter much.  Abuse is abuse and one must remove themselves from any relationship that isn’t healthy.  By the same token, be wary of anyone who is willing to immediately conclude within five minutes of telling your story that someone is on the spectrum and fits the description of what their particular tribe believes.  This is for your own good…as it is important to be honest with yourself so that you can get to the root of the problem and find resolution that not only resolves your pain but gets you to a place where if there were patterns that led up to your being vulnerable you can address them and hopefully never fall prey to this type of individual again.  While there is no guarantee it won’t ever happen again, and they even take the mental health professional’s down, if you have a solid understanding the odds are lower you would be vulnerable in the future only because unlike the professionals, most of us who have been intimately involved have such a wider scope of experience and understanding.  Many of us once healed walk around and gloat we can spot them in a minute flat just by what they say.  It’s almost like gaining a superpower.  You too will someday be able to brag: “I see dead people!”

Sometimes in order to get a fuller understanding, I travel to darker places, to places where they congregate.  I don’t participate out of respect for their right to discuss what they want to discuss on their terms and in their space.  There are some NONs in there also who are seeking advice; however, I’ve always held if you know there is a lion in the den then you leave it be in peace, you don’t disturb it otherwise you can’t cry because you got mauled.  Sounds fair…perhaps I am deluding myself.  I oftentimes laugh when someone gets fired up and decides to tell them off only because that is simply sheer entertainment for them, and it takes the kind of work we as survivors do in order to really grasp that.  You’d have better results banging your head into the wall then to believe you will reach them.  I’m at a place where I hate that the disorders exist but hold no hate for those with the disorder whether they can appreciate it or not, and if one were reading this I am well versed enough to know this too would find them tickled.

Earlier this evening, I was playing spectator on Sociopath World.  If you are new in the process, don’t go in there trust me…you’re not ready.   It will be a major trigger.  What I have done instead and I trust that the Sociopaths won’t hold it against me is share an excerpt from one victims story that resonated so fully with me and what the experience was like even though I hold that I was with a narcissist rather than a sociopath.  It is an example of how we can say that there are distinctions but there aren’t.  The effects to the TARGETS are all the same…but the motivations for the personality disorders vary.  The member on that forum shared the following:

I never realized how dangerous this man was, living in his suburban house with his suburban life, until he killed someone and the forensic expert on the prison psych ward labeled him as such: ‘a true sociopath’. Even then, I was so brainwashed I refused to believe it. It has taken me 12 years to finally see the truth of what sort of monster I was involved with. The word ‘manipulation’ does not do the work of the sociopath justice. This man completely broke me down emotionally. He never laid a hand on me but he didn’t have to. I remember curling up on the bathroom floor in the early hours of the morning in a fetal position, crying non stop, feeling utterly helpless and lost and wondering what had happened to the ‘me’ I used to be. This is what the true sociopath will do to a person – make that person feel so desperate that they too feel that they are totally losing their mind. The true sociopath will take away every vestige of their target’s individuality, leaving behind just a pathetic and helpless disciple. The true sociopath will trick you and con you without you EVER knowing until it’s too late. Once the reality comes to light, you will be in more trouble than you ever thought possible. You are just another victim and it will take you YEARS to undo the psychological damage. You may think you are in a ‘normal’ relationship. You may think you’re in love and that the true sociopath is in love with you but the reality is that you are being used and mentally abused while the sociopath gets his narcissistic needs met. The sociopath doesn’t give a damn about you. All the gifts and flowers? They mean nothing and are just a means for the sociopath to keep you hanging on. As for breaking up with the true sociopath, be VERY VERY careful. It’s no joke. These people are scorpions and they will turn on you in a heartbeat and reduce your already trampled self-esteem and sense of self-worth into the mud, even lower than you thought possible. By the time they are done with you, you will feel worthless, unlovable, useless. You will blame yourself for everything that went wrong with the ‘relationship’ but the truth is that you were taken advantage of and abused by a highly skilled shark that you never saw coming. They will leave you devastated and isolated. I could go on and on about this but I’ll just sign off ‘Older and wiser but damaged beyond repair’.”

For many of us…what adds to the cognitive dissonance is:  He never laid a hand on me…that is the shit kicker right there.  How can someone who never beat you, or overtly verbally abused you leave you nothing but a shell of yourself?  Moreover, who outside of the hell would ever truly grasp the level of devastation that is left in the wake of their destruction, especially when they are so good at playing the role of ‘nice guy?’

If you’ve never taken my word in terms of understanding these dynamics or if my writing at first glance has seemed a bit over the top, you have it from another victim in black and white. This is not a game, and targets or anyone who suspects they may be dealing with someone on the Axis II Cluster B spectrum needs to gain an understanding and an education of the dynamics as well as the distinctions and take this very seriously.  I’ve seen many on forums who appear to think somehow they are going to outsmart these types, or get their come uppance.  They confuse a personality disorder with an asshole.  Grave mistake.  READ, and conduct RESEARCH from reputable sources.   Find a professional mental health professional that is skilled in Trauma, DV and/or possibly addictions if applicable and get out.  It might be the difference between life and death.

~BL

In return for the favor of being able to peep their den, I also noted that the leader of the board has published a book.  The link for purchasing the book can be found [HERE]

Note:  The use of the term Sociopath/Sociopathic was used for the purposes of consistency as this entry referenced Sociopath World; however, there remains great debate as to whether or not sociopath and psychopath are synonyms.  The following article does a good job explaining what perhaps is the most up to date theory on the semantics:  Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy

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14 thoughts on “Why Distinctions in Personality Disorders are Important When Recovering From NPD Abuse

  1. Pingback: Why Distinctions in Personality Disorders are Important When Recovering From NPD Abuse | The Cat's Meow for Writers & Readers Magazine

  2. I am really, really scared.. I have lashed out at my ex narc in very humiliating ways, because I’m just wired to hurt people back worse than they hurt me.. But my ex narc is the youngest son of a very high profile narc and an older brother, the triangle.. That’s all I know, but I fear that the father and older brother are going to be leading my demise. I have a 3yr old daughter.. I live in a fog most the time and only realise how bad this is wen I’m smoking weed.. No kidding. I’m surrounded by disordered people.. I’m frightened to death!

    • Sonya,
      I can’t say that your fear is irrational, not in this case. Not that you are asking for advice; but my best suggestion…try your darndest to control that wiring. You won’t win unless you are on the spectrum, and even then…it’s a journey to crash and burn or worse. Every time you feel the impulse think of your daughter…this is not about taking the high road or being a sucka…it’s about surviving intact and alive. Do not let these people feel you are a threat to them. That doesn’t make you soft…it makes you wise.
      All the best…you may very well be surrounded by disordered people…do your best to get outside of that box and into safer waters…in my case it was a hard pill to swallow to say: “Keep the change.” Our ‘ego’ has been bruised…but detaching and accepting is perhaps the only pound of flesh we’re gonna walk away with. Every time you want to lash out…just ask yourself: “If I end up dead, would I want my daughter to be raised by these people?”…The maternal instinct is greater than anything I can imagine…tap into that and ride the waves.

      All the best to you on your journey. I hope resolution and calm comes with a quickness…

      • Thanks so much for your reply. I’m one of the non-lizard people and most of the time I’m in the fog and I feel confused. But tonight I’m quite clear and realize how brainwashed I am. Being the only non lizard in my whole family and being very protected by the church etc. my parents are have been pastors here in Australia. I very well could lose my life, Yes.. But my ex narc told me I would do it myself. Is that what will happen when I see what’s really going on? NO ONE WILL TELL ME? Prolly not even you. CHEERS ANYWAY.

      • Sonya,

        I am not a licensed mental health professional, I can only offer peer support and at this juncture, I am not that involved as I once was. My suggestion is that you seek competent professional mental health as this type of abuse does a number and that feeling like you’re going crazy is one of the main symptoms most victims report. I don’t have much information on resources in Australia; however, there must be some national domestic hotline? I am sure they would have information in terms of where you might begin to look.

  3. Being with a sociopath or npd is the same psychology as a cult. Betty, you speak from experience and yo write about this really well. One daysoon i would like to email my own experience of living with an npd. The lack of empathy has been inhuman. A human being who needs a health warning attached. Thanks for your help in the kick to keep it real and reach for a future.x

    • al welch,

      I’m so very sorry you went through this. I rather have a root canal in every tooth with a dull drill sans novacaine than to EVER go through some insanity like this again. While they say anyone can be a victim, most have given a nod to the concept of repetition compulsion. Doesn’t have to be major league troubled childhood…but ‘something’ may have caused the ignoring of the flags. If the theory applies, and you figure it out…but even if it doesn’t…please believe me, in time you will give it a shrug and a “WTF was I thinking.” You WILL be wiser and you’ll pay attention next time. This was an education that NO MONEY could buy…I thank you for your kind words…if there is any doubt…believe me…you’re gonna get through it and you are going to thrive…just give time time, be patient kind and loving with yourself. Love is not a crime, and you went in with good intentions…that’s “GOOD KARMA” in your bank…the hell with theirs.
      Hugs,
      Betty

  4. Oh and B? My friend dumped him pretty quickly after I shared with her what he was doing to her, as all the tactics he was using on her were played out in the relationship. His narcissism was quite high. I don’t believe he thought she’d go anywhere, despite knowing. And once she did, he packed up and left. Never heard from him again. But I was happy she observed and believed the info. It saved her years of pain.

    • Good for her! AND she was lucky to have a friend in the know…it’s just so tragic HOW we end up ‘In the know’…hopefully this will change for many in the future with the work so many of us do out here in the cyberwaves…<3

  5. Ms. Betty,

    Great post. I actually find it fascinating to go to Sociopath world as an observer. It has enlightened me beyond compare and was an enormous help to me in my healing process, if for nothing more than validation that these people truly do exist and even speak to one another lol!
    Anyway, since I do what I do, I’ve been contacted by a few spaths who enjoy talking about their disorders. They are aware of it, but they don’t care. These are fascinating discussions too. I don’t blow them off when they wish to talk about how they love duping people. It’s repulsive in one way, yet gives me a window of understanding through objectivity that I would not otherwise have.

    About the disorders: Lack of empathy, remorse, guilt and contempt. People who say that they can spot a spath in seconds may not necessarily be lying, lol! Some of these people are incredibly obvious, however those that tend to be more ‘successful’, are higher on the narcissism scale and intelligent hide better and longer. Boundaries is key here, because no matter what disorder you’re dealing with, they are all major boundary violators.

    I do agree with just labeling people. There are forums that create unnecessary hysteria when it comes to the disorders, hence creating a climate of paranoia and endless ruminating. That’s sad. Because there are people who have OTHER disorders that do not qualify them as Cluster B, but those who are Cluster B are different from ‘assholes’ in that their pattern of behavior is CONSISTENT over time. It’s rigid. It has become simple in most cases, for me to see who has empathy and who does not.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    • As always K, spot on, we’ve always pretty much been on the same page with a lot of ideas in terms of ‘approach’ I commend your ability to ‘communicate’ with Spaths. I am not so naive to believe I never have, but rather prefer to observe rather than engage. I mean it’s clear I’d be giving of energy but not gaining anything in return, it is very much a one sided exchange – but the same way we observe them, I do believe they also observe us – more than likely for entertainment purposes…like you say, they know and don’t care so I don’t see the point. I certainly would be respectful mindful that they really cannot help who they turned out to be but simply saying “ME”…I couldn’t do it…the other side of this has to do with the fact that in terms of what we do…I’ve always recognized my skill does not necessarily lie in being able to walk someone through from beginning to end but rather breaking through the cognitive dissonance and somewhat getting them acclimated to a thumbnail sketch of what to expect on the journey. So many of us landed with no reference point and that in and of itself adds to the fear and the trauma…to think you are going crazy, to have no words…once I can get them to that ‘AHA’ moment when they ‘get it’ usually they move forward onto other parts of their journey which is why in this particular article it was so important for me to caution that a newbie NOT go in there because it would be trigger city! It is so nice to hear from you I am delighted you dropped in. As you can see I’m checking you out too and really do appreciate and respect all the work you’re doing as well…its blossoming so nicely and it truly is amazing what a difference time makes. Wishing you all the best as always “K” and please, no need for the “Ms.” darlin…we go way back. Hugs!

      PS: Finally got some understanding of the inner workings of WP. Remember how hesitant I was? Still a bit of a challenge had blogger down like the back of my hand but do agree, in terms of presentation looks much more aesthetically pleasing…:)

      • Betty,

        “Ms’ is a term of affection for you. 🙂

        I read your stuff and follow you so when your posts pop up, I read them!

        I see spaths as specimens in a petry dish. 🙂

        Recently, my therapist shared she had a narc in her office. She said it was ‘fun’ because they’re all about memememememe!!!! LOL

        She said she couldn’t help him because he’d either A. take the info he learned and manipulate further his partner and B. his condition is incurable. I think when there is disconnect in that there are no emotional reactions to these people and you know who they are, some fascinating conversations and insights into their behavior can be soooooo helpful at times in survivor support. I think I mentioned there are two different types that approach. The disgusting, seductive love bombing spaths **gag**, and the disgusting, highly intelligent successful spaths who just want to go on and on and on about their behavior. One spath was so ridiculous…he was dating someone off my friends list. He told her he was a spath, but not the REST of the story because she had no idea what that meant lol! I shared with her what it meant, but caught up in the love bombing, she ignored the info. So he messages me one day and says, “Hi! I’m a spath! (sociopath) and i’d like to talk to about my condition!” LOL!!!
        He outlined the very basics of his particular behavior and the tactics he uses and was using on my friend. He was soooo happy about her being duped. He shared that he feels nothing about it, (DUH!), and that he doesn’t WANT to do anything else. He is a highly successful business man who is wealthy. He discussed stepping (bullying) others to get to the top in his field. He talked about the MANY women he’s been with (bagging deer comes to mind). I asked him if it ever bothered him that he has hurt so many women. “Why should it? I’ve given them money and the best of everything, given them everything they want, but they were not giving ME everything I wanted! Relationships are a two way street and it has always been ME on a one way street!”

        Hmmmm….I wish I could share that whole conversation with you. There was another psychopath who contacted me, extremely intelligent, same thing, highly successful. He answered every question I had about psychopathy and how it plays out in his life. He was officially diagnosed, but he reminded me a lot of Sam V. I think there are few who actually talk about it or are aware of their disorder, B. I’ve learned to educate myself from the horse’s mouth.

        We do go way back now, don’t we? How time flies!!! I think the once upon a time radio show idea was a good one, B. I wish we had investigated that further. Perhaps our paths will cross again in combining knowledge and experiences. I think you’re fantastic!

        BTW, I would love it if you might consider doing a guest post. I know, I know….it would give you more exposure and I think your writing is phenomenal. I’m more focused on the second portion of recovery, but a few posts from you addressed to newbies would be so fantastic, hence, leading them to your site. You do have a gift in this area. Much love you, sugah!!

      • I know that “Ms” is a term of affection “K” but, for those who don’t know about our interactions, they might misread it, and I want them to know that I hold your work in the highest regard that the Ms. was affection and not any kind of deferring of any particular ‘authority’. I can’t imagine a therapist saying a narc is fun, but then again, I presume once you know them, as long as you’re armed and own what they are…then yes, I presume they could be entertaining…I spent a considerable time once healed getting a few comedic jabs in there myself…she must have a lot of experience under her belt! Good for her…so many totally miss the CUES…

        As per the spath story regarding your friend and his not telling her the rest. Sadly it’s the same way the one I was with sat at my table and said: “I am a master manipulator” said it straight out in the beginning in ENGLISH and perfect articulation and WOOOSH! Right over my head…he was just so good at ‘presentation’…I just woke up this morning with yet another insight but I’m having some difficulty articulating it as it is a controversial topic and one that must be worded carefully so as not to give the wrong impression. Now that I feel I’ve pretty much healed, I try to be conscious and not let it rip raw like I once did. Currently most if not all of the articles posted here are simply transfers. BTW, as per guest blogging, anytime you want to share something “K” please know that it is free for the taking, I am doing the Creative Commons thing as it’s important that people are helped. Not sure how much farther I will go with this, will definitely get this blog completed through the ‘journey’ and maybe here or there add something and of course set up the Network which I had down for a bit, but so totally turned off by FB I don’t feel it’s the place. I still get many pvt messages from people that need some direction so I won’t turn my back completely but as I shared recently, I’m also in the process of trying out some new things…”ME” things that are very important in order to really “Exhale” as I feel constant immersion at this point for me would not necessarily propel me further and if I am going to preach a message, then I must also practice it, but it is important for my own personal reasons that this be memorialized if only for the purposes of helping someone who may be wandering in the middle of the night, lost seeking answers the same way we once did. I believe only a few rare persons can stay in this for the long haul without it at some point re-depleting them. I’m liking the pace, its not overwhelming perhaps I’ve changed or grown or healed (still wonder sometimes I wait for the shoe to drop, to have a setback or a trigger but so far it seems okay – minor things yes but I can bounce back from them so in that respect, I’m runnin with it)

        I am still very much exploring the communications/creative realm and most certainly we can discuss putting something together. It’s been a little hairy I’ve got four to five projects running simultaneously and running like a hamster in the wheel trying to streamline them so that they are more manageable. Not sure how they will pan out ultimately but if I don’t try I’ll never know so will certainly touch base with you if even to help you set up your Radio Blog if that is what you’re interested in…or whatever you have in mind, I am confident we can make it happen.

        With that in mind dear lady, I thank you so much for dropping by and I too read your blogs as well, and certainly with your permission would like to showcase some of your stuff, or even feature something you feel a ‘Newer Member’ might benefit from another perspective. I may need a few days as there are some things happening on this end but give me a little time and I will definitely hit you up on the Radio thing…I’ve got a few people cued up but I had to put it on the back burner until I can bring some things up to par…as you know when it’s a single person its difficult wearing all the hats…

        We will definitely talk soon and you stay blessed! ❤

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