Posted by: frogstale | October 12, 2013

What’s in a name?

Borderline, Narcissistic, Sociopath, Anti-social, Psychopath, pathological liar, manipulative, high conflict, passive aggressive.   They all sound like different personality disorders and there are some differences, but the similarities outweigh the differences.

Eighteen months after I left my ex husband, who I though was a sex addict, he was still using our children as pawns to manipulate and control me and make my life hell.   After some particularly bad episodes when my stress level had increased and every time an email or text arrived from him I would get heart palpitations, I sought help.  I went back to a counsellor who had tried to help me save my marriage 18 months earlier.

She called my ex a ‘crazy-maker’.  I looked it up – yep, that was my ex.

So I went searching for more information.  You know how it goes, you follow links on line and find out all sorts of things.  This was 4 1/2 years ago, before the explosion of blogs and the mass of information you can now find online.  My links at that time took me to information about borderline personality disorders.  I read avidly and had so many ‘aha’ moments – I knew I was onto something.  This sounded in so many ways like my ex, and even explained the sex addiction – which I then started to believe was due to a personality disorder. (See my post on sex addiction)

I joined an online support group for ex partners of people with borderline personality disorder and my ‘aha’ moments increased. He was behaving in so many similar ways to the other ex partners.  But my ex didn’t fit all the descriptions of borderline, there were some things that were different.  So I looked at sociopathy, narcissim and various other personality disorders.  I found Bill Eddy’s site on high conflict personalities.  I knew my ex husband had something – I just couldn’t work out exactly what.

I have recently joined an online group on Facebook for people with narcissistic exes One Mom’s Battle.  All their exes do the same thing as mine, even down to writing the same words in emails.  In fact there is many a time when I have wanted to write (and even did as a joke – except it is not really funny) are you sure you weren’t married to the same man as me?

The crazy exes seem to work from the same book and all the issues are linked – it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle. They have the same tactics, the same lies, the same manipulations, the same problems.  For example a recent article on pathological lying (see below) takes you to information about various personality disorders, a blog on divorcing a high conflict personality (see below) does the same thing.

Does it really matter what ‘label’ you use?  No.  Not for me.  All I know is my ex has some sort of personality disorder, he acts exactly the same as others with different personality disorders.  I don’t really care what his particular label might be.  It doesn’t change anything.  He still has the same negative effect on me and the children.  I have still had to learn to deal with his nasty, passive aggressive, manipulative behaviour.

Narcissistic, borderline, psychopath? What’s in a name?



  1. I know what you mean. It felt good to finally, at least to myself, to call my ex a Narcissist. But is that what he is? Is he that and so much more? I find he falls into many categories, pathological liar, sociopath, split personality, and many more. In the end, there are many, many people like him and many people like us trying to make sense of it all, by ourselves. That is until we connect online and find that we are not alone. Connecting and working together is what makes us stronger. We can learn from each other and find comfort in our similarities. I appreciate everyone here who has the strength to tell their stories. It gives me tremendous hope. 🙂

    • I have been amazed at how much you can find online nowadays. When I first looked into this about 4 years ago, there was information, but very little support. I got the most support from a couple of sites. I have only been looking again since starting my blog in June. The amount of information and support has grown tremendously. And that is great. I hope our online communities can get the information from the web to ‘real life’ though – because the general population still has absolutely no idea what these people are like and how they wreak havoc in our lives and our children’s lives. That is now the challenge – to get others who haven’t been through what we have been through to understand. But still, knowing you are not alone is one step towards healing. FT

      • I agree with getting the word out there and building our own communities where others can find support and answers. I guess we are the “pioneers” of this effort. We can definitely bring hope to others as we create success in our own lives. It is what drives me to be better, do better and accomplish more. Through sticking together, we are stronger than going this road alone!

  2. […] What’s in a name? ( […]

  3. […] What’s in a name? ( […]

  4. […] I say again, what’s in a  name (  Passive aggressive, high conflict, narcissistic, psychopathic – all different names for […]

  5. I read another blog where the abuse survivor felt a name, title, precise term was indeed important. In my case, the person with the “high conflict personality” never cooperated long enough for anyone with any credentials to tag him with a diagnosis or title. So to me, what is in a name? Not much either. It does me little good to ponder sociopath-psychopath, psychopath-sociopath, borderline with narcissism, true narcissism, and so one. He fits the pattern that is described so often online and that is enough. All names do is have people come out of the woodworks telling you that you are wrong about the person, they can be treated, they are not representative of the rest of people with a personality disorder meanwhile they are still terrorizing you and making crazy and you have just attracted MORE people to drive you crazy and feel guilty.

  6. I think it helps to put a name on it so that you can identify what it is you are dealing with. Knowing the name gives you the characteristics of that particular disorder and if the shoe fits…well…you have got your answer. You can then proceed with you life knowing that there was nothing that you could have done to change the course of the relationship because it was doomed from the start due to the disorder.

    • I don’t mean not to label it at all, I meant that between all the different personality disorders and various other terminology – such as High Conflict Personalities, Character Disorders, Narcissist, Psychopath, whatever whatever the label isn’t so important.

      However I do know that something is wrong and learning that helped me find information on the internet and connect with other people who are dealing with the same issues.

      Quite a ot f time is spent on trying to decide which exact label fits – and that is what is meaningless to me. Hope that explains it.

      Having said all that I totally agree that there was nothing I could have done to change the course of the relationship – and knowing he has something helped me come to terms with that and learn how to deal with it since.

      Thanks Peg

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