14 thoughts on “Personality Disorder In The Family

  • October 14, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    The mother/daughter narcissistic PD/Borderline PD or as I call it sadist/masochist is a very interesting combination.

  • October 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I completely disagree with your comment that someone with a PD is always “normal” or “correct”, or inflexible.
    In fact, it is often quite the opposite: much internal confusion and feeling abnormal and wrong.

    It is very very confusing when the external world does not match the internal world. That doesn’t mean the person thinks their internal world is correct or normal at all. It makes everything seem unreal.

    Sometimes normal and correct? Yes. That leads to misperceptions–for example, feeling that others are being purposefully hurtful. And even clarifying that this, that the other is not being purposefully hurtful at all, just compounds the confusion and the “what is wrong with me” feeling of being anything but normal.

  • October 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

    ME –

    Thanks so much for adding your comments on here. I’m hopeful that you don’t think I’m being insulting by how I’ve described personality disorders. Every person’s experience is unique, and helping professions like health care and mental health are bound by definable categories to keep things manageable.

    Now that I’m thinking about it for a minute, I was using the “always normal and correct” reference as a way to explain to someone who doesn’t have a personality disorder why there is often such conflict. And that perhaps I should have included that it is, like so many internal reactions to mental health problems, a matter of self protection and trying to figure things out. That even when a person has misperceptions (for any reason) they are more likely to go with what they believe than what someone else believes.

    That can result in a person with personality disorder behaving in a more self-focused way. As you said, the internal/external jumble is there. And in fact, that’s a much better way of putting it than what I offered.

    I believe you are probably a more fortunate one who can express your experience so directly and succinctly. Your insight is hugely valuable to me and certainly to others. It’s not common for a person with a personality disorder to be able to get past their own experience and see the process at work. That often takes great patience and persistence to get through that.

    And also, your comment was straight to the point and explanatory without being defensive. I’m so glad when I get comments like that, about anything I’ve written. Helps the dialogue and comments flow back and forth more easily.

    I completely understand that you disagree with my description, I hope you know I wasn’t intending to be hurtful. Just using the definitions I have at hand to describe something that’s so complex. I thank you for having the courage to add your piece, and I hope to hear from you again. You’ve added much to this post.

  • October 18, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I wish there were more awareness of personality disorders in the workplace. Throughout my working years, I’ve encountered several who I suspected were very far along the narcissistic personality disorder spectrum. Yet, no one would go against them, in fear of ostracization as they are often highly regarged by upper management.

    Employees suffer. It’s not as easy as dating someone from who you can simply walk away from. If there were more public awareness and education–aside from television dramas that wrongly portray real life–employees would be healthier and not subject to so much abuse, and the individuals themselves suffering from the disorders can more readily get help.

  • October 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Thank you for your reply.
    No, I didn’t think your intention was to be hurtful. I thought your intent was to illuminate and demystify and I admire that. It is so hard to explain, especially to those who don’t think about their thinking, who aren’t curious about how things work.

    I have been very fortunate to have become acquainted with someone who has been very helpful to me. To think I lived more than half a century without even knowing there was such a thing as an internal experience! Illumination!

    I am now exploring mindfulness, and the ability to focus on non-judgemental, welcoming and accepting, awareness. Being aware of awareness, identifying with awareness instead of being imbedded in the experience.

    How the mind works is fascinating.

  • October 18, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Yes, what you don’t know about what you don’t know! The mind really is a mystery. And just being curious and even educated about it isn’t enough to solve problems or even understand it well.

    Everybody is subject to this process in some way. Unfortunately, some levels of unawareness lead to a lot more harm to self and others, like with personality disorder.

    Mindfulness is such a rich pursuit for every human being. Just having the ability to step outside yourself for one moment can make such a huge difference. I often explain this to a client (or even my kids) as taking a Goodyear Blimp viewpoint – from up above to see the whole picture like you can see a whole football field at once.

    Good for you, and I hope you continue to find positive things in your quest for regular mindfulness.

  • October 18, 2009 at 9:50 pm


    Very good point. Anyone being told they need help for (fill in the blank) isn’t likely to take the news well at first. But still, at least being able to understand what’s behind the behaviors can make a difference in how the problems are addressed. Like ME said, the big picture of internal/external mental processes can be so difficult to explain.

    I continue to hope for improved awareness and understanding everywhere, and hopefully some has come from what I and you fine readers contribute.

  • October 19, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Having lived with a spouse for 16 yrs who has Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I can certainly attest to the challenges therein. The “me, myself and I” world he lives in is astounding.

    Only during the process of our divorce did the true reality of his illness come to the fore in my mind. His astounding lack of insight into the pain experienced by our children and me was a huge piece of therapy as I struggled with “is he this mean? or is he this sick?” Our children are both in therapy and dealing with depression and anxiety 5 years post-divorce.

    As a single mom trying to shepherd my children toward wholeness, I struggle at times with my anger at how he has “skated on, scot-free” from acknowledging any responsibility for his actions and their effect on our children. To be validated in therapy was so, so helpful for me, but to watch my children struggle and cope with suicide attempts, depression and anxiety from all the things he has done and keeps doing is heartbreaking.

  • October 21, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I’ve had depression for about 13 years. I grew up with a mother with a personality disorder. It has caused unbelievable damage to the family, then and now, many years into the future. After having flashbacks, PTSD, and extreme anxiety, I have come far, through trauma therapy I recently experienced. Gone was the depression, the PTSD, and the anxiety. But in trying to get and stay in touch with a brother in a foreign land, I have seen that he too has the same disorder as my Mom. Just having a “normal” conversation with him is difficult. He sees insult and intentional meanness where there is none. He says mean, nasty things and NEVER says he’s sorry, just like our mom. At least he cannot be physically violent towards me, like she was. But in our last conversation, it was extremely brutal, and I find my depression and anxiety have suddenly descended again. I don’t want to loose touch with him in this foreign land. He hates the US and all it stands for, which I’m sure has to do with his disorder. He plans to never return and this is why I don’t want to loose that contact. I am conflicted…

  • October 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Growing up in a family with the patterns of “normalizing the abnormal” taught me mostly the wrong con- conclusions about myself and damaged my self esteem and adult mastery of life skills.

    Trying to find help from therapists who are caught in the same trap, was even more challenging. I have found that positions of power over another in any form, especially one disguised as “helper” is where narcissists tend to gravitate.

    It has taken years of effort and commitment to standing ground in the face of rages in family and any place where “home away from home” patterns persist to identify and then come to an adult standpoint of individual responsibility and healthy self-esteem

    To anyone out there asking “is this really about me” when a simple self assertion is attacked, will be supported by a particular section of a book which has hit the nail on the head. After years of studying the dynamics of narcissism this is the clearest, most succinct description I have ever found.

    The book is called The Point of Existence, By A.H. Almas Chapter 32 is titled Narcissistic Rage.

    I quote the opening paragraphs from page 323 ”

    “narcissistic rage is a universal reaction to feeling unseen or misunderstood…They feel slighted and unjustly treated, and are thus chronically angry and indignant…and are quick to explode at the slightest sign of imcomplete empathy or mirroring..”

    The bullet headings of the following different characteristics are extremely helpful for anyone confused by abusive patterns. Whether acted out on oneself or by others.

    The book is a study on individuation and the path to wholeness, and not likely available in the library. I recommend a bookstore with a good selection of alternative/self help titles. If you only read that one chapter and note the characteristics, it will save years of struggles in identifying and healing the injuries and boundary confusions of a lifetime.

    For all those out there seeking to understand what sre essentially irrationally pervasive patterns of behavior, from presidents to the “petty tyrants” in the workplace, I applaud their efforts and wish you well! We are all better off with increased awareness and clarity. I have hope that this highly damaging and traumatizing pattern will not be passed on to the next generation. We need the compassionate understanding and strength of emotional well being to heal the narcissistic wounds both individually and collectively.

    May you find the answers you seek, using them to help others where it is possible, and knowing when it is futile to persist in trying.

  • October 22, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Wow, these comments are fascinating. Thanks for sharing, you can really learn a lot by reading the articles and comments here.

  • November 14, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I also have a very strained family dynamics. My sister is very negative about everything. She tries to bully the other sister on my mothers care. I know she has some sort of personality problem. She believes she is the prettiest, smartest, most knowledgeable person in our family. Her view is right and gets very angry and fights with other family members when they have an opinion. We mostly augue over our mother. She is the power of attorney and she holds it over our heads. I pray for her to realize that life is not about being right, it is about being happy and accepting of others.

  • November 15, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I have a similar situation with an older brother. My brother has a personality disorder. He has always been constantly negative about every aspect of his life. He has problems with everyone he comes in contact with including neighbors and co-workers. As a result, he has had a difficult time obtaining promotions and to my knowledge has only me for social interaction. He is 56 and has never been married and when I bring up dating or meeting new people he refuses. He is quick to find fault with people and can not see other people’s point of view. Recently, he has borrowed money from my husband and I to file bankruptcy. He is constantly buying things he does not need and will quickly put himself back in debt after the bankruptcy. He recently came over to our home for dinner wearing new clothes and talking about joining a club. When I explained to him that he should think about saving money and bringing his mortgage up to date, he was indignant. He told me that it was none of my business. He has never mentioned the money he has borrowed and I do not think he ever will. I am at the point that I do not want anything more to do with my brother. I have asked him to seek help and he has refused saying that he does not have the problem. He has no friends as he is extremely argumentative and at times explosive. Can you recommend any books that may help us better deal with my brother? Thank you for your help.

  • April 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I have had difficulties with my husband for years. Never quite being able to make scence of what was wrong. after 18 years of marriage and 2 chidren,and difficultiesin the marriage, we finally we.nt to counseling. What initiated the need for counseling was that I had met a “friend” ..yes male andit was not a sexual relationship but only telephone conversations. flurty but non-sexual. He lived in a different saate,however it was nice and intertaining to talk to someone “normal”.He found out and was completely irationally irrate. Cursing, threatining,crying.etc…mind you he has a history of being unfaithfull. Back to the terapist…..he was diagnosed with personality disorder. the theerapist ll him of the diagnosis bbut told me and stated that it is very sifficult to treat soeone like him and almost impossible when treating this disorder.. the therapist is a LCSW. He has 2 masters degrees and has been counseling for over 20 years. Should he tell my husband the diagnosis , maybe he doesnt feel the timing is right ,we have only seen him about 5 times. Please help…I am ready to get a divorse but worry about my financial sitution and the boys sitution as well. He is a caring father , he adores his boys and gives them evertyhing bit they do acknowledge he has some issues. please help if anyone has advice


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