Posts tagged personality disorder
Posts tagged personality disorder
By Anonymous, Business Insider
An anonymous user responded with a first-person account of having Antisocial Personality Disorder, the official name for a mental illness most people know as sociopathy. The disorder, which is notoriously difficult to treat, is characterized by a lack of empathy and inability to form close relationships. We have printed the entire response below.
I’d like to answer this anonymously, so bear with me.
First of all, although it is a common misconception, having an antisocial personality disorder is different from the term “psychopath.” A sociopath can have a wide range of symptoms, meaning that not every sociopath is like Dexter, or feels the need to kill and destroy in an attempt to feel emotions or cope. Sociopaths or psychopaths can be anywhere on a large spectrum ranging from the type of behavior seen by remorseless serial killers, or the behavior seen as a general disorder in emotional capabilities or accuracy.
In my case, although as of yet there is no sure-fire method of diagnosing ASPD, I was given the label because I exhibited many of the symptoms associated with the disorder. As a child I was stubborn and had trouble maintaining friendships. I didn’t have any trouble making friends, but social norms were foreign to me and I usually lost interest in friendship. My parents described my behavior as cold and distant. I had absolutely no sense of loyalty and would use people to get what I wanted.
I can’t say that there is NO effective treatment for the problem, but in my case, I was institutionalized for many months and I was essentially re-trained how to survive in a society that I can’t understand. Since many of the problems I had evolved throughout my childhood and early teens, my parents decided to face the problem in a very extreme way, hence the institutionalization.
Today, most people wouldn’t know that I have issues. I moved to a new area to ease the transition.
Not all people who show symptoms of ASPD will involve themselves in criminal activity. Although I’ve had a few minor brushes with the law, I am not a criminal and I have no desire to break laws. Also, contrary to popular belief, I DO experience emotions. I experience emotions which are much less intense, I imagine, than others, but they are emotions nevertheless. Most of the time I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling, and my emotions are often inappropriate in context with the situation.
I have almost no ability to empathize with others, and even at the death of those close to me, I did not feel sorrow. Instead, I knew that I should be feeling sorrow, and so I exhibited the emotions that I knew I should be feeling. This was the training and treatment that I received. I was taught about my disorder, I was told that I was different from most of the world, but I was also taught that I should attempt to integrate.
One of the biggest problems with ASPD is the sense of alienation. This alienation is often the only thing which someone with ASPD can truly understand. The alienation is clear and it is not confusing. However, if i allow the alienation to define me, I become less willing to fight antisocial urges. These antisocial actions are what cause many people with ASPD to break the law or hurt others.
Although I cannot compare the treatment I received with other methods, I would say that the training I was given helped me to blend into my society and become a part of it. Pretending to feel things which I do not feel makes me appear normal, and appearing normal makes the alienation less intense, which in turn helps the ASPD. There is no firmly recognized method to treat people who have ASPD or who can be classified as psychopaths.
One of the main problems is that, compared to other mental illnesses, there is a very small knowledge base on the subject. Few functioning people with an antisocial personality disorder seek out therapy. Most of the people that society recognizes as sociopaths or psychopaths are in prison or deeply disturbed. There is a huge social stigma in relation to people who can be classified as sociopaths or psychopaths (not unfounded, I’ll admit, there is good cause). But this general mistrust makes it difficult to get a job, make friends, or date people (yes I do date) should the fact that I have a diagnosis of ASPD come to light.
Once, a well meaning, but poorly-informed neighbor put my name and address on a map online, marking me as a dangerous member of society. I had been attending therapy nearby, and I naively thought that he wouldn’t judge since his young son has schizophrenia. I was forced to quit my job and move away after the whole situation started interfering with my work and general desire to be left alone.
Despite my ASPD, I am a functioning member of society.
With continuing therapy, and the understanding that it is okay for me to be different, I have the freedom to live where I want, have friendships, work, and go to school.
For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog
Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder May Be Attainable
By Ashley Brown, MA, PhD
Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may be possible, and the roots lie in understanding the biosocial model. This model originated with Marsha Linehan’s theory, which argued that there were both social and biological reasons that BPD develops.
Borderline Personality Disorder is often considered one of the most difficult diagnoses with which to work. But in my many years of experience working with individuals with BPD, I found that there are reasons behind their actions which, when understood, can help lead to empathy, acceptance, and ultimately change.
According to the biosocial model, people with BPD frequently have differences in their neurotransmitter and neurological functioning. Research has shown that they many have neurotransmitter issues that make them more emotional, aggressive, or reactive to stimuli – making them more prone to emotionally intense experiences.
People with BPD have usually been invalidated throughout life which leads to emotional sensitivity. For example, imagine a child who is hungry or frustrated trying to communicate this to his or her parents but being told that their feelings don’t matter over and over again. The feelings may be cast aside with statements such as “there’s nothing to cry about” or through cultural stereotypes such as “little girls don’t get angry” or “big boys don’t cry”. And environments of emotional, psychological, and physical abuse are extremely invalidating.
Invalidation serves to demonstrate to children that their feelings are wrong and that somehow they need to look externally, to other people, to know what they are feeling and if their feelings have value. Being told their emotions were wrong led them to believe that emotions were bad things, to be avoided whenever possible. This creates a chronic, internal tension where the person feels that they have to live up to others’ expectations and not experience negative feelings. Yet they also feel anger and worthlessness for having those unavoidable negative feelings, or on a deeper level, for not being able to authentically express themselves.
This tension builds up and causes an emotional explosion. In fact, the individual who has had their emotions invalidated repeatedly growing up will feel that if they don’t demonstrate their emotions through large displays, that no one will believe them. They believe that their emotions are not worthy of being considered, so may in fact subconsciously overemphasize their emotional expression in order to ensure that other people “believe” that what they are feeling is real.
This is one reason BPD results in so many emotional outbursts. People with BPD have been invalidated for so long that they don’t trust what they feel unless their feelings are overflowing and taking over the room. It’s only then that the individual with BPD can relax and say “see, I told you I was upset”.
Having emotions ignored by others for so long also leads to black and white behaviors and beliefs. For someone with BPD, behaviors may swing like a pendulum from distancing themselves from their emotions and other people to feeling needy and dependent on someone else. Although the individual looks for love and approval from others, they have difficulty accepting that love due to the low regard they have for themselves. Chronic invalidation has caused them to feel overwhelmed by distressing emotions. Sometimes their behavior becomes self-sabotaging and self-destructive when they can’t cope with these emotions. Frequently, social relationships merely reinforce these negative patterns.
As children, people with BPD learned these skills to survive in their dysfunctional environment. But these skills no longer serve them. Many people with BPD find the notion of “change” to be invalidating in itself because it implies that there is something wrong with them that needs to be purged. This is why the most successful and well-researched therapy for BPD, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), focuses on balancing radical acceptance and non-judgment of oneself while recognizing the need for change.
The biosocial model reveals keys to recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder and tells us that this diagnosis does not have to be the horrible life-sentence that many people and medical professionals make it out to be. Marsha Linehan, the inventor of DBT, revealed in a 2011 New York Times article that she had Borderline Personality Disorder when she was younger. Yet, she’s found ways to cope with and grow from the issues that at one point institutionalized her. If she can get through it, anyone can.
For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog
Interview: Borderline Personality Disorder, Fear Of Abandonment, And Relationships
By Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, Casac & C.R. Zwolinski
Today we’re talking with therapist Lisa Bahar about Borderline Personality Disorder and how it can affect relationships.
Welcome, Lisa. BPD makes it difficult to be involved in a stable, healthy relationship. What are some kinds of behaviors that people with BPD have that are a challenge to a relationship?
A person with BPD desires and responds to structure, predictability and communication. When there is lack of predictability, anxiety or fear of abandonment can potentially set in, and disruptive and unstable behavior can escalate into controlling and aggressive reactions.
These reactions can occur when their partner’s behavior even slightly differs from what is expected. For example, if a partner, who is “always” on time is 15 minutes late, breaking a pattern of predictability, feeling of anxiousness increase. These feelings trigger feelings of abandonment, which can then lead to disproportionate reactions. These feelings are all rooted in fear.
For example, when the partner shows up, the person with BPD might accuse them of cheating, leaving or have a plan to leave them. Or the person with BPD might act out with behaviors used as a way to give the message that the other is being “punished”. These might include not speaking, slamming doors, pouting, and so on. They all communicate I am angry.
Tell us more about what this type of manipulative behavior looks like?
Manipulation is a way to create control. If it is unconsciously motivated through a conscious act, such as an outward behavior like tantrums, crying, threatening, and attacking, it is what I call sloppy manipulation.
Or, it can be sophisticated manipulation. When manipulative behavior takes the form of crafty questions which are intended to trap the other person into saying something that they really did not know mean to say, or give an answer that they really didn’t realize they were giving.
The individual with BPD does not always use direct and healthy communication skills and instead acts out behaviorally and/or communicates indirectly.
Are people with BPD consciously manipulating others? Sometimes, it seems like these manipulative behaviors are habits or knee jerk reactions rather than conscious emotional manipulation. Can you explain what is really going on?
Exactly, these behaviors can be habits. Generally until awareness sets in, the individual may not know that they are unconsciously motivated. Once awareness sets in, and insight is gained, usually through various mindfulness practices, then there can be an opportunity for behavior change.
Behavioral change is the real test of insight. Of course, the individual with BPD needs to actually know how to change and that is where the Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills become helpful.
What are the underlying reasons and/or mechanisms driving manipulative behavior in someone with BPD?
Fear of abandonment. Also, a feeling of disconnect particularly with a sense of self. This happens when an individual feels they don’t have an identity without the other there to define them. When the partner demonstrates behaviors that are interpreted as “leaving” by an individual with BPD it can feel like a loss of identity.
Fear of abandonment can feel almost like death to the individual with BPD since it is a kind of “death of self.” That is why some people with BPD have a pattern of jumping from relationship to relationship—they do this in order to sustain sense of self.
How does Dialectical Behavior Therapy help those with BPD resolve these issues?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a set of skills that are very concrete and clear. They allow the individual to decrease emotionally intense reactions by providing a way to decrease the symptoms.
DBT teaches a set of skills including:
Core Mindfulness skills which help to calm the mind.
Interpersonal Effectiveness skills which are designed to help you effectively communicate what you want, express feelings and say no clearly.
Emotional Regulation skills which help you manage and deal with emotions rather than emotions controlling you.
Distress Tolerance skills which help you be able to handle crisis situations more effectively and deal with reality and it’s terms, as opposed to resisting what reality is.
What are some suggestions for people who want to overcome manipulative behaviors that drive people away?
The first part is that the person has to want the change—they have to be the one to do the work! Of course, someone else such as the person the client is in a relationship might also want the change, and that is fine—but it can’t be the primary motivation.
Next, there must be a willingness and dedication to learning skills that can help. For example the client must be willing to practice the skills he or she learns from DBT. They have to understand: This is a not a quick fix, but the development of a pattern of life skills.
What advice do you have for family, friends and colleagues who are trying to cope with these behaviors and who, understandably, don’t want to feel attacked or manipulated?
Education is key.
Significant others must be aware of their part in interactions and reactions and must learn how best to respond. DBT is most effective if all family members are involved. Each person involved should practice a self care plan. It is so important for clients and family members to not point the finger at any one person.
Thanks for speaking to this topic.
For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog
The discrimination and stigma associated with mental illnesses largely stem from the link between mental illness and violence in the minds of the general public, according to the U.S. Surgeon General (DHHS, 1999). The belief that persons with mental illness are dangerous is a significant factor in the development of stigma and discrimination (Corrigan, et al., 2002). The effects of stigma and discrimination are profound. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that, “Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders - especially severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment (New Freedom Commission, 2003).”
This link is often promoted by the entertainment and news media. For example, Mental Health America, (formerly the National Mental Health Association) reported that, according to a survey for the Screen Actors’ Guild, characters in prime time television portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups: 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence. Also most news accounts portray people with mental illness as dangerous (Mental Health America, 1999). The vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on other negative characteristics related to people with the disorder (e.g., unpredictability and unsociability) or on medical treatments. Notably absent are positive stories that highlight recovery of many persons with even the most serious of mental illnesses (Wahl, et al., 2002). Inaccurate and stereotypical representations of mental illness also exist in other mass media, such as films, music, novels and cartoons (Wahl, 1995).
Most citizens believe persons with mental illnesses are dangerous. A longitudinal study of Americans’ attitudes on mental health between 1950 and 1996 found, “the proportion of Americans who describe mental illness in terms consistent with violent or dangerous behavior nearly doubled.” Also, the vast majority of Americans believe that persons with mental illnesses pose a threat for violence towards others and themselves (Pescosolido, et al., 1996, Pescosolido et al., 1999).
As a result, Americans are hesitant to interact with people who have mental illnesses. Thirty-eight percent are unwilling to be friends with someone having mental health difficulties; sixty-four percent do not want someone who has schizophrenia as a close co-worker, and more than sixty-eight percent are unwilling to have someone with depression marry into their family (Pescosolido, et al., 1996).
But, in truth, people have little reason for such fears. In reviewing the research on violence and mental illness, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small,” and further, “the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population” (Institute of Medicine, 2006). For people with mental illnesses, violent behavior appears to be more common when there’s also the presence of other risk factors. These include substance abuse or dependence; a history of violence, juvenile detention, or physical abuse; and recent stressors such as being a crime victim, getting divorced, or losing a job (Elbogen and Johnson, 2009).
Could you describe your submission?
This was a spontaneous piece I created in 2010, during a manic episode. Midway through I decided it represents the delusions of grandeur most of us live with, manic or otherwise.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Bipolar artist. I focus on the experience of creating and think a lot about states of mind and their resulting artistic outcomes. I currently put all my work on mebeingsocial.tumblr.com.
Was your submission created about or in an extreme state?
This was created in a mild manic state.
Would you like to describe the process of creating your submission?
I (stupidly) triggered a manic episode through sleep deprivation in order to create in such a state. From there I rode the waves, and followed strong feelings until it was finished.