The most disastrous relationships I’ve witnessed over the years all began with a “con” of some sort. Sometimes the deception was both knowing and deliberate but other times the wool was not so calculatingly pulled over the eventual victim’s eyes. There are times in all of our lives when we simply don’t trust our better judgment – when we won’t let ourselves see what we’re afraid to see – or when we simply can’t accept what seems too unsettling or unimaginable to believe.
It can be particularly difficult to tell just where someone lies on the character disturbance spectrum. All too often in troubled relationships the extent of a person’s character disturbance only becomes evident long after much damage has already been done.
Knowing where someone truly lies on the character disturbance spectrum is not only important for professionals engaged in assessment and treatment but also for individuals trying to make sound judgments about a potential relationship partner. Without a good sense of what to look for and how to evaluate what you find, you run the risk of learning far too late and after much unnecessary heartache how character impaired a partner might be.
Perhaps no two concepts in psychology are as confusing at times as personality and character. That’s in part because the definitions of both terms have evolved over time. But it’s also because certain misconceptions about the terms have persisted over the years not just in the minds of the general public but also in among professionals.
Perceiving the nature of a problem accurately and labeling the psychological realities underlying it correctly are of paramount importance when providing or seeking help. The current series of articles will address some popular misconceptions and the principal reasons important psychological principles and terms are often misused or misunderstood.
Disturbed and disordered characters are unfortunately among those who hurt people intentionally and for a variety of nefarious reasons.
Narcissists love only themselves and all those things they see as “extensions” of themselves.
Harboring antiquated notions about who they are and how they got to be that way is exactly what leads people to get into relationships with narcissists, despite warning signs, and to remain in those relationships despite suffering emotional abuse and neglect at their hands.
Neurotics want to do the right thing and for things to go well as a result. They take it hard and are perhaps too quick to engage in self-reproach when things go wrong. Disordered characters, on the other hand, tend to take adversity in stride and blame everyone and everything else when bad things happen, even when those things really stem from their own actions.
Disturbed and disordered characters are often so married to their ways of seeing and doing things that they can’t give due consideration to other perspectives. They’re usually aware of how others want them to see and do things, but they’re also opposed. Naturally, this creates problems in their relationships.