Posted by: frogstale | November 1, 2013

Let’s educate the world about personality disorders

I was thrilled to see my post ‘What’s in a Name’ re-blogged on the Personality Disorder Awareness Network.

Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder responded and was quite upset at what I had said.

When you actually suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder there is a great deal in the name. People with BPD are often misrepresented as being narcissistic, compulsive liars, lacking in empathy and of being highly manipulative. This is not because we are, it is simply because we are lumped in with all the other personality disorders as being thought of as abusive. I’m not abusive, I’m not dishonest, I’m not incapable of empathy and I am a decent human being. It is incredibly painful when you suffer from an emotional dysregulation disorder that your behaviour is misinterpreted to fall into a category similar to that of your husband. It is incredibly disheartening to read this article after the one I had posted a week ago challenging these misconceptions. What a kick in the heart it has been to read this.

I wrote a response (which hasn’t been approved yet).

I am sorry you feel that way. I understand that it is difficult and disheartening. I read your article and it is well thought out and interesting. It must be devastating to be diagnosed with a mental disorder and particular one that has such bad publicity. Gaining support from online communities is helpful to you and others with the disorder.

However, the same goes for the people in my situation. I too need support and found it online. I learned many things which helped me deal with his ongoing behaviour towards me and my children. I too may have ended up taking my own life if I hadn’t found others who understood what I was dealing with gave me techniques to cope.

You said
‘If they are dealing with someone who has no willingness to accept help or treatment, then finding a name to place on the cause of the abuse could deviate them from the important business of getting help’.

I say that finding a name gave me and many others like me, the direction to seek the right type of help.

For the partners, the particular name or category of personality disorder is not so important, the support, understanding and validation are what count.

For yourself, with a diagnosis and the insight to understand your situation and the ramifications of having a personality disorder, the name is of course important. The sad thing is that many people with personality disorders do not have your insight, nor will they ever receive an official diagnosis, as they do not recognise that there is anything wrong.

Additionally, many will not receive a diagnosis because it is only those of us that live with them and can see their behaviours over the long term and in different situations, that are able to recognise it as a personality disorder. I am not a clinician, and I cannot say for certain he has a PD or which category of PD he may fall into. It doesn’t matter. Just knowing he is displaying behaviours of a personality disorder is enough.

Just as you don’t wish to be categorised, discriminated against or viewed the same as all other people with a personality disorder, neither do I wish to be associated with people on support groups who only abuse people with personality disorders. The majority of us don’t do that and are only there to seek help.

Finally, as you quite rightly say, going no contact is the best way to move on and let go of an person in your life with a personality disorder. Unfortunately for many of us that isn’t an option. Children prevent that choice and leave us open to even more abuse through the children and family law courts.

We should ALL be thankful that the internet has given us access to the help and support we need from whichever side of the fence we come. It also gives us the opportunity to educate the world about all types of personality disorders and the suffering they cause.

It is often hard for us on this ‘side of the fence’ to have understanding and empathy for partners, ex partners and family who display behaviours of a personality disorder (with or without an official diagnosis).  It is just as hard for people with a diagnosis to see our side of the story, and of course even harder if one of their symptoms is lack of empathy.

But we are all suffering and all share the same desire.  We want to inform the world about personality disorders so that our suffering is understood.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could all work together to reach the same goal.

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  1. After reading the response you received from one of your post and reading your response I felt a need to add my two cents worth. I respect both of your opinions of abuse and I do see both sides of the spectrum as well.

    I was verbally and emotionally abused for 42 years of my marriage. I chose to not acknowledge my situation for many years because I was caring for twin boys both of whom had special needs. They were born premature in 1979. My one son was diagnosed with learning disabilities and my other son had spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. I chose to dedicate my life in caring for my sons and did not do anything to help myself from my husband’s abusive nature. He is controlling and has a narcissistic nature.

    Recently my husband sought therapy because he claimed he was depressed. After a few months I was asked to join. After sitting there for a few weeks I was beginning to feel I was the one with the problem. I requested a personal session and everything I kept hidden from way down inside just flowed out. My therapist, after hearing my side, she validated my feelings and told me I am the victim of verbal and emotional abuse.

    After several months of therapy, not with my husband, I learned something very valuable which is the main reason why I am responding. In most cases of verbal and emotional abuse it comes from family cultural. What I mean is my husband grew up with parents who were dysfunctional. His mother was narcissistic and his father was verbally abusive. He learned his behavior from them not knowing it wasn’t normal. Therefore he brought the same behavior that he learned from both his parents to our marriage.

    I was very angry when I was told after so many years I was a victim but after many months of therapy, I actually understand why it happened but I am still having trouble with why he wasn’t aware it was wrong. Why couldn’t he stand up to his parents and know that it was wrong and make himself a better person?

    This is what he is trying to learn from his own therapy but in the mean time I moved out of our bedroom so that I can have a safe haven to go to when he screws up and attempts to control me. I am not sure what our future will bring. We are friends but we are not a married couple. Only time will tell. However, I felt it was important to tell my story because I can see both sides of the abuse and understand where it can come from.

    • Hi Jude

      Thanks for sharing that. It is very hard when you are the ‘victim’ to have empathy and understanding for the person doing the torturing. I struggle with that as the abuses has continued through the children and the contact I am forced to have with him because of them.

      I have empathy for the people who have a received a diagnosis and more importantly – accept their diagnosis. It is easier to forgive and understand when the person who has treated you badly has at least some insight into what they are doing and why and the effect it has on you.

      What is hard is when there is no insight and the person just doesn’t ‘get it’. When they blame you for their own bad behaviour and therefore they will never change.

      It sounds like your husband is still in that place. I wish you luck and hope that he does reach a point where he gains some insight and your future is better than your past. But if it doesn’t, one day it might be time to move on and give yourself the opportunity for peace and happiness.

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