Aspergers and a Personality Disorder. I have experienced the effects of both. And that gives me a rather unique perspective.
Empathy, or rather lack thereof is, I believe, the common denominator.
Personality Disorders (Cluster B)
My first husband behaves like a narcissistic sociopath. This is not an ‘official’ diagnosis but over the last 4 ½ years I have learned that he fits the behaviours of both of these two cluster B personality disorders.
He doesn’t exactly fit the profile for a narcissist, nor does he fulfil all the criteria for a sociopath but his behaviour lies somewhere in the middle. Both of these personality disorders lack empathy and compassion.
One of the differences seems to be that Narcissists lack any sort of self-awareness and aren’t able to recognise that what they are doing is wrong whereas sociopaths know what they are doing is wrong but have no conscience and do it anyway.
People with Aspergers often do not understand their own or others’ behaviours – lacking self- awareness. But they are not heartless, compulsive liars or morally lacking as a group. Maybe some individuals are, because whatever ‘disorder’ people have, they also have their own personalities and differing upbringings that lead to them behave in certain ways, but I think it is fair to generalise that lying and having no conscience is not a behaviour normally attributed to Aspergers. (In fact most people with Aspergers are not able to lie – even when a white lie might save someone’s feelings!)
My second husband Chris, who was diagnosed with Aspergers at 48 after we had been together 2 years, is in every way different from my first husband except for three things:
- How he handles conflict
- His Lack of understanding of my motives, behaviours and reasons for saying and doing the things I do
- His self – absorption
This normally mild mannered, genuinely caring and generous man turns into my nasty, verbally abusive, blaming, high conflict, egotistical ex-husband when we argue.
- Constantly interrupts me
- Blames me
- Unable to accept anything that he perceives as criticism even when it isn’t
- Goes on the defensive immediately
- Kitchen sinks (brings up all past hurts/issues/problems and cannot stay focussed on the issue at hand)
- Discounts what I am saying and my feelings
- Makes assumptions about what I think and feel and then proceeds to tell me exactly why I am doing what I am doing (and is so often completely off the mark)
- Uses ‘always’ and ‘never’
- Has double standards – eg tells me off for interrupting him while he constantly interrupting me
All these are classic mistakes people make in arguments and they escalate the conflict and prevent resolution from occurring. I so often end up never feeling heard or understood. Just like with the narcissistic ex.
I recognise that many people probably argue this way, and maybe they are ‘male’ traits – but these behaviours are so similar in my two husbands that I can only attribute it to their common lack of empathy and self-awareness.
There is one big difference though.
Aspie husband can’t see at the time that what he is doing is hurtful and only makes things worst. I think he would care if he was able to understand it but in the heat of the moment he just can’t.
Personality disordered ex husband didn’t care and would deliberately act that way to upset me and wind me up – choosing to do things I have asked him not to just because he could.
Different but the same.