The CD Continuum Wrap-Up: The Preeminent Role of Character

As I assert in my book Character Disturbance, and have been illustrating in my postings over the past few weeks (see also: Character Disturbance Exists Along A Continuum, The Continuum of Character Disturbance – Part 2, and The Character Disturbance Continuum – Part 3), character pathology exists along a continuum of both severity and specifity in comparison to its counterpart pathology: neurosis. And character disturbance of some type and degree is a much more commonplace these days than pathological neurosis ever was.  It is indeed the “phenomenon of our age,” which is why it’s so important to understand what character is all about and how a person’s character disturbances contribute to the kinds of problems they’ll likely cause themselves and others in life. 

For a long time, mental health professionals paid little attention to character and its role in people’s psychological dysfunction. Moreover, there were some in the professional community (especially those more firmly aligned with the medical and biological perspectives) who viewed it as both scientifically unsound and socially and ethically inappropriate to view a person’s problems as in any way a reflection on their character as opposed to purely the result of some  “biochemical imbalances.” Thankfully, in recent years this trend has been reversing.  Many now realize the importance of character and the preeminent role it so often plays in the kinds of other pathologies a person might exhibit.  Besides, we’ve proven pretty convincingly lately that pills alone can’t make people well, even in those cases where the biochemical underpinnings of a condition are significant.

There is an inextricable relationship between the symptoms of psychological ill health a person is likely to display and their basic character structure.  Narcissistic individuals who by stroke of good fortune have experienced a string of uncanny successes can become nearly delirious with self-confidence, displaying the kind of grandiosity that sometimes accompanies a manic episode. But when faced with failure that is both undeniable and impossible to attribute to external sources, these same individuals can also become quite despondent. Emotionally “dependent” personalitities can experience periods of heightened tension and depression upon losing sources of emotional suport.  Insecure and socially “avoidant” personalities can experience anxiety bordering on panic when forced into a position of self-assertion and leadership.  Sociopathic characters for whom the “jig is finally up” and who have had their illusion of omnipotence and control shattered can become truly deadly.  Who we are as a person is a big factor in determining how we might respond to a given environmental circumstance.  And while even the healthiest personalities can succumb to situational stressors, the strength and integrity of our character provide the best defense against a whole host of psychological problems (for more on this see the article:  (Character as a Psychological Immune System).

Correctly assessing someone’s character is not only crucial for professionals trying to make sound judgments about prognosis and the most appropriate intervention, but also important for individuals evaluating the prospects for a relationship. These days, you simply have to know where someone lies on the character disturbance spectrum to “get it right” with respect to understanding and dealing with them.  Last week, I gave an example of a man significantly character-impaired.  And all the signs were there early on: a lack of empathy, a disdain for accepting obligation, the incapacity for loyalty and fidelity, etc.  If only this man’s relationship partner had give proper weight to these features of his character (all of which were telltale signs of his malignant narcissism) and disregarded all of the commonly held but erroneous beliefs about what might be driving his troubling behavior (e.g., insecurity, trust issues, fear of commitment, past emotional wounding, etc.) – in short, if she had trusted her gut instead of the conventional wisdom, she would have saved herself a mountain of heartache.

Over my many years of practice, I learned one crucial lesson the hard way:  character matters.  Even in those cases where brain abnormalities are responsible for the problems occasioning professional intervention, the role of character can’t be discounted or ignored.  People with various mental illnesses or developmental disorders will vary widely both in the kinds of problems they present and their likely response to various types of intervention depending on their dominant character traits. And I’ve also learned that despite the common perception that character issues are both impossible to change and therefore pointless to address, focusing squarely on them is often the real key to making things better.

This week, our country witnessed another tragedy when an individual of severely disturbed character took the lives of several folks whose only “crimes” were the color of their skin and their faithful search for life’s untimate truths. And while the political pundits will again debate whether the tragedy was the result of the ready availability of guns, cultural factors that promote racism, the poor availability and pathetic state of mental health care, etc., in the end you can’t escape the role of character. Attitudes of superiority and entitlement in a person are always a problem and it’s frightening to see how seriously sordid actions arising out of them can become when such attitudes go unchecked.  And, besides, what kind of character thinks it wise to give such a disturbed individual a lethal weapon for a gift?  Before all the facts are in on this case, we’re sure to find abundant character pathology all around.

I pray not only that the families of the slain and the community in which they lived heal but also that we as a society finally resolve to face the problem that threatens us all on a daily basis in so many aspects of our lives: the character crisis and the sociocultural factors responsible for “enabling” and promoting it.

I’ll have much more to say about the events of the week on Character Matters, Sunday at 7 pm EDT (6 pm CDT and 4 pm PDT) on UCY.TV. The program will be a live broadcast this week, so I can take your calls.

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88 thoughts on “The CD Continuum Wrap-Up: The Preeminent Role of Character

  1. That is my prayer too. That there is a huge paradigm shift in society’s view when dealing with these types of character disturbed individuals. Character disturbance is a big enough problem on its own, but it’s the way many of us turn a blind eye to it, enable it, believe what we want to believe because it’s easier, and in some ways promote CD that I find even more disturbing at times. What’s the incentive for CDs to change when they basically get what they want anyway and aren’t held accountable by most people… My prayers with the families of those who were lost.

    1. Dr. Simon is it possible for you to make recorded tapes of your show for people to share with others that are unable to read (mother is 83) that would benefit immensely from your insight? Thank you

  2. This information is incredible. I actually thought I was the only person on earth who was experiencing this type of behavior and never thought anyone else could be as evil, calculating, abusive, narcissistic, deliberate, controlling and manipulative as the person I’m dealing with. I never thought anyone would be able to figure him out or understand the destruction this type of person causes and the pain they inflict on their families as well as every single person who happens to come in contact with this type of twisted individual. The mind games they play and the lengths they will go to destroy someone is absolutely mind-boggling, there are no boundaries when they are honing in and attacking their prey. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, which is full and total control. When and if you finally figure them out, or if you somehow interfere with their plan of attack, they will crucify you until you concede. No matter what they do or whatever situation they create, they will never accept responsibility for their actions. I read an article that stated they lack emotion, or compassion for anyone else, this is very true, but I found they use emotion many times as another tool either to suck you in hoping you will reveal personal information just so they can use it against you at a later time to keep you in check as they strive to regain and/or remain in control. They also use it as a façade for people so they feel sorry for them. When they feel like they are losing ground or credibility, they use every tactic possible, even religion. How can someone so evil feel like they are “chosen” by God to offset the evil they create. They feel like they are psychic and will say or create things in their mind to prove their delusional ability, swearing up & down that they are not lying. Is it possible to have many levels of different disorders, because he is an expert on every level. Why do they want to make everyone miserable? How can they live their lives knowing they create misery? Don’t they drive themselves insane constantly thinking about ways to deceive people and always concentrate on recreating stories and situations that benefit them, making you feel like the crazy one? How come all of the manipulators seem to think alike and take on the same type of dysfunction? Is this a learned behavior, genetics or both?

    1. Yes I presume it is a learned and practiced behavior and some genetics. They are very intuitive on their terms only. I believe Dr. Simon hit the nail on the head with some so anti-work and just an once of luxury (you doing something for them ect.) gets them over the next hump. I have walked your path. I find myself asking why? Maybe it’s some kind of revenge, knowing they have one over on their victims. That alone must make them feel ahead, though we all wonder about their miserable existence; here we are wondering and discussing them while they live miserably and we join the suffering. Are we not enabling in that aspect. I am going to change course. I have gained a wealth of info. and have had prayers answered by Dr. Simon and this blog. Your post tells me I’m not alone and I have tried to help, I have no regret. It is time to let them reap full consequences and be on our way. Let’s not give them one more win. This is there gig and we must try to live peaceable with all men. With these types, that would be out of their radar. The truth will make you free. Thank You!

      1. Dear Truly Free,
        Yes, you are so right with what you said, thank you. I am so happy for you that you are taking a stance and saving your self-worth and self-respect. Dr. Simon has in a sense given me an inner sense of peace knowing there is a reason and a method for their madness. It feels as though Dr. Simon has been sitting on my shoulder for the past 25+ years because every single thing he writes about on this subject is everything I have experienced. Unfortunately, it really makes you think back to when it all started and it also makes me think of how much of my life I lost as a result. It’s comforting to know that I am not crazy, something he was and continues to make me feel. There is no reasoning with him because when I ask him why he is doing this to me, he repeats it back very loudly to make it seem as though I am the one abusing him. No matter what I ask him, he just repeats the same exact thing much louder than someone would expect, especially in front of people. There are no boundaries where he is concerned as he loves to embarrass me in public as well. He says the nastiest things to cut to the core with absolutely no remorse and will challenge any one at any time verbally, there is no one that can match his viciousness. If I remember correctly, the marriage vows you take states that “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” there is nothing in there that states we should be victims of abuse! I agree with what you said about enabling. I too feel that we should not be looked at like this is our fault. We do not enable them to treat us in the manner they do. We are forced into complying with their demands because many times they use threats to maintain control, which is the main reason why we endure this type of pain for so long. No girl grows up thinking to herself and saying that they want to be in an abusive situation. They take advantage of true, genuine people and seem hell bent on destroying them. I am so thankful for Dr. Simon for his incredible research, expertise and talent for exposing these types of people. Its especially hard to constantly have to counteract their tactics knowing what I know now. It’s like fighting a losing battle. They definitely become more aggressive if you realize what they are doing. They also vehemently deny their wrongdoings. I wish you the best of luck on our new journey. I am for the first time taking steps to finally do what I should have done many years ago and what I should have done for my kids.

        1. Chris, It sounds like you are planning on leaving or taking some type of action. There are some good sites out there and hopefully, there should be a Women’s Center in your area that can give you advice on strategies on how to leave and what you may need to do to protect yourself and your children. Just be very careful and don’t tell him or as few people as possible anything if you plan on leaving.

          Dr. Simons site is by far the best on the Character Disordered you will find on the internet and the posters are very knowledgeable and supportive. Read everything you can in the archives of Dr. Simons site and in the interim build your strength and knowledge of the type of individual you are dealing with. Be extremely careful and read and reread what all the posters have shared, it will help clear your mind and validate your experience. These sorry excuses of human predators haven’t one iota of humanity and will use every dirty trick they can to use against you.
          It has taken me years to come to grips with the reality of who these individuals are and at times I still get caught up in doubt and feelings of compassion. So in the end I come back to Dr. Simons blog and re-read, the past and present posts. If you can, find a good therapist that understands CD in the same light that Dr. Simon presents. I was blessed that I had a Christian care provider that supports Dr.’s work and gave me a copy of Dr.’s book “In Sheep’s Clothing” many years ago. Please don’t hesitate to come to Dr. Simons blog and ask or comment about anything, you will find that everyone is most supportive. We may not always agree, because we are unique individuals but in common we all care about every kindred spirit and want to see the best for each other. Blessings and God be with you on your journey.

          1. Chris, Yes again, I found I had to pick my battles even with exposing the behavior because it was so apparent and he said, stop calling out my behavior, I was a little excited of my new found knowledge and wanted to exercise this of course. But we have to enjoy life not fix everyone, right. I learned to just let some things go and address the most controllable behaviors first for the others I got some advice about just keeping quiet like a Dr. and observing while studying, this way your learning and know how to plan your next approach when this behavior happens repetitively. So just relax and watch, my patient looked a little taken back by this approach so I let him know I was hearing him, by saying something like, I see or, Yes, o.k. and just walk away so I wouldn’t be affected either way. I learned to focus on me and just drop his issues right there in the air unless it was something that concerned me, like something was misplaced. This helped me not be so focused about the CD issues and start focusing on me, it’s great if they know when they raise their voice or something that means they lose your attention not get a reaction. Anyway it’s one day at a time and I’m praying for you and that no one speaks to you like this in your home; that you’ll have peace.

        2. Please try to recognize that you did what you knew how to do. By using phrases like, wasted my time, to me, anyway, it sounds like you’re giving yourself a bit of a hard time. No kind, rational person can fathom someone being such a monster, while being able to function like a normal person. They choose their prey from all of us helper types who are unwittingly enabling their hateful, evil ways. If you are new here, welcome to the family. Reading your story is like my words being written by you. It happens over and over. Even gets a little spooky at times when I might think I had a unique example, then someone posts about it. The Butterflies on this site helped me make sense of this inexplicable craziness. I will be forever grateful to them. I’m impressed that you were able to recognize the behaviors as CD while you were still in it.

          1. Unfortunately, I started to see the same behavior in one of our children, that was the wake up call. I owe all and any wisdom to God alone he actually used that knowledge to shed light on everything. I’m also one of those self blamers I think I’ll always blame myself some. I guess I wouldn’t if those who rightfully own the blame would man up. Learning to put the guilt where it rightfully belongs, daily. Thanks J, I love how other can find out where your head is by reading your posts, I learn from that too.

          2. “I started to see the same behavior in one of our children, that was the wake up call.”

            One reason why I never get children. Seen such things in others’ kids. Here’s hoping they don’t turn out like it would seem. Grrrrr!

            Who’s J, btw?

      2. What a description of crazy-making and verbal aggression, Chris! Disgusting anyone would do that. And more so for this reason: Someone could actually match such person or worse, you know, strike back, so they’ve provoked a wrong person, but how often does that happen?

        And it’s true, no one wants to get into an abusive relationship.

        You’ve gotten on a new journey, too. Get well!

    2. Please forgive me for popping into the middle of your comments. I believe this phenomena is more of a learned behavior than anything else. When I meet up with this sort I like to quiz them and get as much info on them. I have found that it seems something was wrong in their family of origin. It is fascinating in a way how the mind works to overcome the inadequacies and traumas in a way to survive your environment. Many times I have also observed arrested development in these individual.
      I came from a large family, my father the Big N, however, I did not know what it was. In the course of my upbringing the best thing I received was a Christian education. Out of the 8 children 5 are CD predominately N with other diagnosis to complicate the matter. I see where their behavior was generated by the dysfunction of their home life. The middle child basically on her own is a monster to be reckoned with. However, character does matter and the tools and knowledge that Dr. Simon has shed light opens doors for us to deal with these individuals. Our developed character to deny their obscene behavior empowers us to deal with the dark side of human nature in these type of individuals.

      Learning to hold these individuals accountable is not easy, and at times we may have to walk away and or press for authorative (police, court, doctors, etc..)interventions which at times can be difficult to do. And then too, many family members may not like your sound and firm actions. This sister I talked about is afraid of me, I didn’t know that until my mother revealed it to me. She is afraid of me just like Dr. explained, I always called her out and would not respond to her ignorance and basically divorced her so to say. She could not stand it. Myself being the second child and a girl set me up as a caretaker. Always ministering to the needs of the other siblings. My mother feels I am her only trusted child and therefore has all her financial and medical POA in my name. I just tell her to spend everything she has, which is very little and to leave everything else to the church or a charity of her choosing. The others are livid on my Mothers decision. My mother in ways is afraid of them and the CD sibling’s will try to work her over. She now listens all day to Christian radio which has built her confidence to say “NO”. I tell her “Mom just start telling them about the Lord and I can guarantee they will hang up”. Bingo! it works every time and I am to blame. I wish Dr. Simon had tapes made. I know it empower my mother. Wow blowing a lot of steam.
      Thanks for listening and Blessings

  3. “I pray not only that the families of the slain and the community in which they lived heal but also that we as a society finally resolve to face the problem that threatens us all on a daily basis in so many aspects of our lives: the character crisis and the sociocultural factors responsible for “enabling” and promoting it.”

    Dr. Simon, thank you for addressing the Charleston tragedy. I agree that the alleged perp’s attitudes of superiority and entitlement (malignant narcissism) are probably the core reasons why the perp committed mass murder.

    These types often seem to crave attention and are sadistic to others. They are often sadistic to others, too. The Charleston perp seems to thrive in the attention it has received since its arrest.

    I have two questions:

    1. I think psychopaths cannot be reasoned with and guns will continue to be legally sold in the U.S. So, how to prevent mass shootings or significantly cut their frequency in the future? To what degree do you think the return of a large, strong middle class and of intact families and communities in the U.S. would prevent mass shootings or significantly cut their frequency? I realize the middle class and intact families and communities in the U.S. are long gone, so my question is academic – but I would like to hear your thoughts.

    2. Which sociocultural (and perhaps economic) factors do you think help to cause people to develop character disorders?

    I wish every psychopath were born with a prominent birthmark on its nose. These teflon coated cockroaches are damned good actors.

  4. I loved Dr. Simon’s point of “if only” people would pay attention to the character of these evil people when they reveal their true selves instead of minimizing their behavior with “commonly held beliefs” (false hope!). So true, as most of us have looked the other way or came up with excuses for them. These malignant narcissists and psychopaths are cunning, heartless, calculating and cruel. They put up a good facade in the beginning but despite their play for pity or whatever ruse they choose, they do leak who they truly are from the get-go because they are just that evil! If only I had known about these types and their tactics I could have avoided A LOT of pain and effort trying to get him to see the error of his ways (ha! they don’t care!). Mine used religion as a front, btw.

    1. “they do leak who they truly are from the get-go because they are just that evil!”

      They do? Saw some other commenter say something similar somewhere. How do they leak it?

      1. They are empty souls; they expose who they really are (leaking) early on by little things at first such as inappropriate responses to situations and/or in conversation. You think “who does that?” Or “why did he/she say that?” You are left trying to figure them out a great deal of the time! Also, mine remained mysterious. Always disappearing for hours and sometime days and coming back with hard-to-believe excuses or stories. I could go on and on. The point is, I didn’t need my gut that something was not quite right. I think it was intrigue that kept me around in the beginning more than anything (and sex!).

          1. I would like to thank you Dr. Simon for an amazing series and look forward to your next topic that you humbly share with us in order for us all to make sense of this insidious sickness. I would assume from the course this subject has taken us that the Continuum is or takes place over a period of time. The CD’s I have observed in my personal life have only progressively gotten worse over the coarse of their lives. Some of these MN I have know from childhood, and reminiscing about their childhood I recall behavioral patterns and traits that I now can identify as predominately those of a Narcissist. At that time to be narcissistic conjured up thoughts of an individual that couldn’t remove their face from the mirror though there is truth to it. How unbelievably wrong I was to think this. Through the years I watched these individuals undesirable behavior continue to progress into deeper depths of selfish and twisted behavioral patterns. As they got older, the angrier they became, and as I watched and thought about the anger I realized the temper tantrums were not solely attributable to controlling, or that they had not received all of what they felt they were entitled too, but that they had gotten “Old”.

            I looked at an old woman that spoke and acted like a spoiled selfish brat. However, a very cunning, callous and hateful adult brat that wouldn’t think twice about causing serious harm to others to get what they wanted or for the fact of pure jealousy. With all the information that is out there I look forward to knowing what they will continue to turn into, can they get worse. Its as if they actually go insane, from their own self inflicted insanity of lies and deceit they have created over their lifetime. Instead it all comes full force back to them the evil they perpetrated on others. The other amazing but then not so amazing, they seem to find the Lord before their demise. But then who am I to question, only God knows. Blessings to all

    2. Silly Rabbit, I was a very naïve rabbit. And yes, there were flags, I was so young and then there were good qualities which added to the confusion. Always, confusion, and the character flags kept growing and more popping up. Mine hated my faith as if he were the devil himself. When I would speak of God you could see the sheer hate in his eyes. The reason being he had no compunction to acquiesce to a higher power than himself. In my instance faith helped me survive which is a good thing. I know that faith /religion is a perfect clock for the disordered to hind behind. We have to be so very careful, the world is full of predators.

  5. In the last few months I have had to put up with the biggest load of codswallup that you wouldn’t believe. You think when you leave these types that somehow that will be it but when their lives go pear shaped which happens often then bingo the attempt at manipulations start all over again. Thankfully the end is nigh with legal stuff nearly all over…of course that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been who he is… the writing was always on the wall that he would indeed hit it. Not caring who he hurts or who he terrifies in the process. Another poor woman has been scared by this P! Hopefully she is smart and will run a million miles away although I know how he can pull the sympathy strings when the need arises. I feel like I went right back to the start but that only lasted a little while and then suddenly others who didn’t believe me saw him for what he was…a parasitic narcissistic P! He manipulates everyone even the law and gets away with it and keeps moving on to cause more damage. I don’t know how he does it but somehow by the slimmest margin like a slimy worm he slips free. All I hope is with all legal stuff over this will be the last I ever hear from this horrid individual. I feel a fresh breath of true freedom that this final hurdle is almost over. It’s so good to be able to see and deal with this individual armed with information I’ve learned from Dr Simon and everyone on this site… to see it in action and know exactly what is going on and how to deal with it is priceless information. I’ve walked through to otherside of this ordeal. I never thought it would happen but in the end they are masters of their own demise. They can’t stand themselves and when they’re too old, too exhausted to chase the excitement they wither into those sad old souls propping up the local bars with their misery.

      1. Thanks GG, I really didn’t think this day would come but sometimes it’s a matter of waiting them out. When they can’t help themselves but be who they are…sometimes it works in your favour I suppose.

        1. My legal nightmare trying to extricate myself from this hell on earth hit the 4 year mark at the end of May. There is a Court date in July, which I pray will be the end. I went through a period of looking at CD as a pathetic cauldron of rage and vindictiveness. Now he’s just kind of nothing. I can still get angry at times about all the emotional abuse I endured that didn’t count because he didn’t hit me. Or the amount of money he could force me to spend, but never have any consequences. Thousands and thousands to make me go to alimony court, then move out of state so he didn’t have to pay it, is only one example. The, fingers crossed, finale in July is because I realized that there are so many things more valuable than money. Small income for finally having this “Teflon coated cockroach” (that’s good!) out of my life. Tori, stay strong girl, look back at what you have done……I do and I don’t mind saying I am damn proud of myself.

          1. Good for you Lulu, I hit the 4 year mark at the end of June. I practiced NC once I left and it was the ultimate statement. I never once looked at him with anger and disgust, only sheer pity for the fool he made of himself. I just sat back and watched the Bonfire of the Vanities. The Emperor with no clothes, and the Wizard of Oz that didn’t know what lever to operate with me gone+. And now just a pathetic old man consumed with bitterness and hate which will finally consume him and I didn’t have to do anything but say no more and leave. I do pray for all the demented souls but never again will I give my pearls to swine. Blessings

          2. Good for you Lulu!! Lovely to read these words. It’s only survivors who truly understand how it feels to wade through this stuff! You have to pat yourself on the back. Yeah and do a Lulu is doing something a little crazy…not sure what yet but I do believe I’ve earned it! 🙂

          3. Joey, how parents, especially moms (sorry, I’m prob not being fair to dads) can be cruel and destructive is way beyond my comprehension. Every fiber of a connected mom is wired to protect. My own mother tormented me verbally and emotionally. Just me, not the other 3 sibs, she got them to ridicule me. If that is all you’ve ever known, you accept the ugly caricature of you that they created. I was in my late 50s before I learned that I am not the bitch she always told me I was. It took 6 years of therapy before I got it all sorted out. I think the why is that the prey are good people. While I know I have hurt people along the way, it was never intentional (whoops maybe I should say usually not to be sure I’m being honest) and to be cruel to such extremes is way off my radar screen. You can beat yourself up forever about the why did I stay, but it won’t change the past. Essentially it’s because you are a good person who wants to be helpful. And there are people who come along and we fit really well into their sick needs. Celebrate that you got out. That takes courage and strength. Applaud yourself.

          4. Angry at the legal system. No longer him, it’s like he has vaporized. I’m guessing he doesn’t even make it to the bar, just sits in his recliner and drinks. Every slight, real or perceived going around and around in his head, like being on a hamster wheel. People talk to me about karma, that’s not for me to decide. I do know that being alone, with no one to take care of him and a limited income are all things he feared greatly. Oh well…….

          5. Hi LuLu! You should be proud of yourself! You are a survivor and an inspiration. Isn’t it a strange process we have all been through? A bit like giving birth! When you are in the throes of labor, you think it will never end and then it’s over and the intense pain is just a vague memory. That’s where I’m at now……it’s all something that seems like a dream or Dom book I read a long time ago. So weird now that I felt the way I felt about him then, clearly I was under the influence of something. You sound good too LuLu. Everyone does. This has really been a good support group of posters.

    1. Tori, Very well said. My legal battles are still not over years of insanity and I know still more is to come. In the meantime how to make oneself strong to weather the next storm. And yes, Tori I do believe in the biggest load of codswallup (love the word) that you wouldn’t believe. I have a nightmare waiting to happen I just don’t know when. If I didn’t have my faith I don’t know what I would do. I have put much thought into the thought process of the CD and that has been a powerful tool. It has kept me one step ahead of the next punch.
      How to stay strong? It does take a toll after awhile. I think Puddle said it, they leave you with a “haunting feeling.
      I always have a dilemma in categorizing some of the CD I know, there seems to be a form of developmental arrestment involved, and other various mental disorders as Dr. Simon suggests. This could be true in their diagnosis even though they appear to be predominately narcissistic. Their behavior is so out of the norm compared to all the classic examples presented. I have read many of the writings of Kernberg and Kohut who in depth analyze developmental arrestment pathology. How can a person change if they don’t know they are wrong, that everything you thought and believed and lived is wrong.
      However, regardless of the CD circumstances they leave death, crippling and despair in their path, does the perpetrator now become the victim? So many unanswered questions. (Just thinking out loud) It’s sad that the mental health system leaves so many doors open. Is Narcissism the new acceptable Norm? Selfees everywhere.
      I am so happy for you Tori that your final hurdle is over and I pray you find the happiness you deserve. Its ironic that in the last years of our lives we are in a place like this. Its such a blessing to have Dr. Simons site, I just wished I had all this knowledge years ago. Just blessings and peace and hope like Elva used to say.

      1. Oh BTOV, having this final hurdle over with it has given me such hope. I was clueless when it came to legal wrangles and don’t get me started on the unfairness of it all. It was a stress in itself. And you are so right about trying to work out what your next strategy will be, staying ahead of the next punch as you say is exhausting. I must admit I had all but written the whole thing off. I was right at the point where I was about to turn and walk away. None of it was worth the stress. Only he hit rock bottom (almost) I won’t say the very bottom because obviously he’s still going to keep his old ways going a little longer. In a way they do become their own victims don’t they… at first I had compassion, as I don’t think anyone likes to see someone in that state but boy when I thought about all he’d done to me and his son, it’s a quick reality check. Now another woman has suffered at his hands and what’s more he doesn’t really care. It’s all about him, always has been and always will.
        I wish you all the best in your legal processes so that some day you can have closure. The best bit of advice I got from my lawyer was her asking me what settlement I could live with. It had nothing to do with what I should have been entitled to and that is in the end what I considered. Amazing that in the end what I was prepared to live with was nothing. I took a last punt, if he tried another evil tactic that was it in my book. I’m glad it didn’t come to that and hopefully all will go well and I will get a little something going forward.

        It’s unfortunate that we live in the age of the self, although I think history shows us that to a certain extent it’s always been that way. It just seems worse now because it’s an in your face daily proposition with social media, television etc… It’s all up to us what we want from leaders and others in society. If we vote, buy and engage with the idea that character matters and not with what we get out of it then maybe things might turn around for a better future for everyone.
        Hang in there BTOV and I hope that nightmare never eventuates. It’s scary living on that edge.Thank you for your kind words and take care of you too! 🙂

        1. Hi Tori, Thanks for the encouragement, it can become overwhelming to keep having to go forward cleaning up the mess. I have been struggling, I have over and acre of lawn and he took the pulley setup to engage the mower blades off the tractor. So I pushed mowed 5 times and in the meantime and I do think it divine intervention I found an old lawnmower store that had the 50 year old part in his junk yard. Now I have a tractor to use. He let everything fall apart and am dealing with it. Many times I have to laugh at the childish ignorance of the vindictiveness. They say what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Again thank you for the encouragement it was much needed. Blessings

      2. Its hard to pop in on these conversations. And yes, it is inspiring to hear the success stories. To become ourselves again and who we are rather being defined by someone else or having to live in a state to acquiesce to another to keep peace and please others.
        A suggestion, I found out there are groups that meet at churches call “Divorce Care” I personally have not gone yet but it may be a place to vent and meet other single individuals and yes with all the knowledge we have acquired share it with others that may be in the state of utter confusion from dealing with the CD’s. Another group I have heard others like is called Meet Up. Just a thought.

        And yes, Lulu it is a well intended verb. I have said it many times and it is rather an kind endearment, coming from the right individuals. Is your name really Lulu?
        Blessings to all you butterflies, we just have to stay away from the praying mantis.

        1. BTOV that is a good suggestion. At the beginning of this whole mess I found a blog and it was written by a lady who had to start her life all over at an older age. She helped others in a group just as you describe, she even found the love of her life there. Anyway I did send her an email to let her know that her story gave me such hope at a time when I had none. Such a lovely lady she sent an email back the day before she went into hospital for a major operation. She was quite a bit older than when she wrote her blog but she said she didn’t want me to think she had ignored my email and that she would write again when she was well. Such a selfless and lovely lady. I wrote back to wish her well and to thank her. I didn’t hear from her again and I do hope all went well for her. I never wrote again because I didn’t want to interrupt her healing. Still, what a wonderful and caring person. A little note like that made such a difference to me at the time. There are so many wonderful people out there and who always put others first even strangers.

    2. Tori!! I just slipped in here and saw you! I don’t even have time to read everything but wanted to say hi and give you a huge {{{{{{{{{ HUG }}}}}}}}} You sound so good!
      Love, Puddle

      1. Ah Puddle huge Hugssssssssss back at ya!! Do miss you. I haven’t had a lot of time up until present to engage either…now have a break from work and studies so FREE for a bit! Thanks Puddle I really feel good…the best since the beginning of this ordeal. Hoping to do a LULU 🙂 do something exciting though maybe not as extreme as Lulu ha ha! Anyway so good to see you…well read you! 🙂 Hope you’re doing well… Love ya Tori xx 🙂

  6. Do a Lulu? I love that I’m a verb, what does that mean though! Just something wild and crazy like getting a tat?
    BTOV, not knowing what might come next was excruciating for me. Unbelievable anxiety. How do you predict crazy? I am not capable of dreaming up most of the stuff he did. I always knew it would be something, the what and when were completely unpredictable.
    As my son once told me: they can knock us down, but they can’t knock us out.
    Be good to yourself, it’s okay to be a mess sometimes. It’s okay to get some R&R when you need it, bury yourself under the covers so you can heal a bit before the next round.
    Whatever you do to survive is okay. Know that there are many people here who know exactly how you feel and are with you every step of the way.

    1. Lulu, Thank you, for the kind input, it was much needed. I know what you mean about the crazy making, it was much worse when I was in the dark, the light sure opens many doors. And yes hiding under the covers is a good thing. I found if I can get restorative sleep I am better able to function and deal with the knocks. I have to say over the many years of reading on this subject and the many sites I have read Dr. Simon is right on. Also, reading your experiences validates mine. Thank you for sharing and I hope you are doing well with the court processes. I found the courts enable the CD behavior in that it keeps them in jobs!!! I have followed your story as much as possible and its is inspirational. Take very good care and blessings.

  7. I suppose the problem is that when dealing with a CD, you have to understand WHAT you are dealing with. Not WHO you are dealing with.
    The way these people think is alien to me. I still do not underestand how someone namely my mother can be so sadistically cruel to some that is helping them. Instead of showing any sort of value for you. Trys to destroy you instead. Then expect you to make even more sacrifices for their personal gain and benifit. I lost 3/4 of my life to that thing.
    I tryed the same approach angain and again.
    Reason, negotiate,compromise. I just did not learn. Until it was to late. She steals from me and has tryed to stab me. I did nothing other than the same Reason, negotiate,compromise. I got the same response. Verbal abusive Comtempt. I lived in her house for 46 yrs.
    I have just this year purchased my own appartment. Now I am free I cannot for the life of me think WHY I PUT UP with that thing for so long. When all I ever need to do was keep my mouth shut, control my emotions and the abandon the creature. She does not like being alone. She told me so when I came back from College.

    1. Hi Joey Z, welcome. Wow……..congratulations for finally escaping your mothers strangle hold. I hazard to guess that the reason you put up with it for so long is because you were conditioned from a young age and manipulated accordingly. So very sorry and I sincerely hope you enjoy your new found freedom.

    2. Joey, you put up with it so long because it was your normal. Your mother is so basic, so foundational to your life, even if she is a witch. Don’t wonder why it took you so long to leave, just pat yourself on the back for leaving, at all. Do you have any idea how many people never make the emotional break? Please be kind to yourself.

  8. Btov,

    I think everybody gets that you are a Christian and appreciates how much it has helped you. I am asking you to please appreciate that many people who come to this blog for help are not fundamentalist Christians. You can correct me if I am wrong here. Perhaps a better term would be evangelist?

    I sense you feel you may have been thwarted in your attempts to fully express your gratitude towards Jesus, while spreading the word to others who have been similary devastated by a CD. Please understand that I am very happy for you but would appreciate it if you would dial it down a little. Thanks.

    1. LisaO – I find it rather arrogant of you that you think you have the right to tell someone what to label themselves & demanding that they ‘dial it down a little’. Not sure why you are so uncomfortable by BTOV referring to her faith, but really who do you think you are? We are all going through a difficult time in dealing with these CD monsters and each of us cope with it differently. Having a spirit of compassion and refraining from dictating to others how they should express themselves will go a long way in encouraging each of us towards recovery (whatever that means individually).

      1. Hi Silly Rabbit,

        I agree with all the points you are making and if you reread my post you’re bound to see we are on the same page. I am very happy for Btov, am not asking her to refute her faith but to respect the beliefs of others. The most salient point Christianity makes is, “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That is the starting point of a functional society and a respectful forum. We can all agree that the golden rule is the mesh that holds us together. I feel sharing beliefs is helpful and educational. But constant reference to the bible can sidetrack productive conversations.

    2. I think LisaO said it with tact. Small request, no demanding.

      But Rabbit, you’re right, sure we can discuss each own views without alienating each other, right? At least I saw Dr Simon say something about avoiding heated religious discussion.

      Then I’v seen people talk about meditation, pro and anti(sometimes by the same users(?)).

  9. Silly Rabbit. Hey, let me qualify something here — Constant references to nature spirits, meditating, ‘getting past ego’, ‘living in the moment’ leave me feeling the sane way. I feel that through repetition, I am being almost dictated to. Does this make sense at all?

  10. Silly Rabbit, arrogant and dictating. I don’t think LisaO could be if she tried. Certainly anyone can believe as they wish, my stuff is pretty off the wall so I keep it to myself. I’m kind of pondering to myself, why is an expression of someone ‘s feelings/thoughts that is so steeped in Christianity a bit off-putting? BTOV has been kind, caring and helpful to me several times in the past. If that comes from a place that is deeply rooted in her Christian beliefs, that’s fine, I know that her faith is extremely important to her. Would it be different for you BTOV if you talked about what you want to without the context of Christianity? The Golden Rule can be just that. I try hard every day to treat people like I would want someone to respond to me. Once the context becomes spiritual be it Christian, Wiccan, New Age, atheism or whatever, I do think the message gets kind of lost or maybe diluted. With the social/political climate we have now, religious words can become hot button issues very quickly. I think we can all agree of the basics of this forum: to help and be helped, sharing understanding of what a CD can do to a person, encouraging one another and when a hurdle is crossed, applauding like no body else can.
    We’ve already gotten sidetracked into a religious conversation, it didn’t take long for it to get a bit heated.
    Could we all be respective of how we got here-CD hell-and how we are getting out w/o much in the way of spiritual connotations? I need all of you so very much, I would be so sad and lost if we got off track of what (I think) are the reasons for being here.

  11. Lulu< I will tell you a history of my sibling sister.
    I am 5 years older and have taken care of her since I can remember. What a vain selfish individual. She always thought of herself first. She would hit and take from the younger siblings if it suited her. At the age of 13 and a very stunning girl, lived for herself the mirror was always close by. When in the mall she would stop and stare at herself and she would think how beautiful I am. (She expressed these thoughts later in life, her vanity, and selfishness to me). She didn't care about hurting anyone if it benefited her. I was always in the way of her tormenting the others, because I was older and always taking care of them.
    She was wild, vindictive and hateful, selfish and so mean, she was actually ugly although so pretty. Rotten to the core on the coarse of the highway to hell so to speak and she loved it. She did the drugs, sex, you name it she would do it just to defy. At 18 years old she jumped off an 80 foot bridge and survived, technically she should had died. She was in the hospital for 1 year. She is a paraplegic in a wheel chair, with a colostomy and her body so deformed. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and highly narcissistic. She told me the only thing that kept her sanity was [her emerging faith]. [But] this was only the beginning of her journey. From there she went to live in the nursing home of insanity. Then 3 years later was put in a group home. In one of her bouts of hearing voices and wanting to destroy herself, because of the guilt of all the ugly things she had done in life she took lighter fluid and dowsed her face in it and set herself on fire. Mind you during all this that is taking place I am in constant contact with her and trying to advocate for her. I am only in my early 20's with 3 children and a house to care for and work.
    A hearing was set before a judge and rather have her committed which my other siblings wanted, she was released in the care of my N father. It was better than the alternative. What proved of consequence and changed her completely, She had [one of those moments of reckoning] Dr. Simon speaks of, became a member of a church and [turned her life over]. She went from living with my father she went to a place founded by a Christian philanthropist for the handicapped where she flourished and her faith grew but her suffering was to continue. Six years ago she needed a hysterectomy, and the doctor assured me the laparoscopic procedure would be fine, however, during surgery the doctor came out and said due to the scar tissue he would have to do an abdominal procedure. I agreed, she was released but readmitted due to the fact the surgeon had nicked her intestine and she was filled up with peritonitis . Her belly looked like she had triplets. Emergency surgery, the surgeon cut her from her sternum to he pelvic to clean out and resection and connect her intestine. In a surgery you heal from the inside out. The gaping wound was 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep a foot long. When she woke up and saw this and the unbearable pain you could hear her screaming down the halls. During briefs moments of consciousness she praised God. Unbelievable, agony and inspiring humility, I was humbled. At the end of 3 weeks I was advised to make funeral arrangements, she would not survive the night, she lived. I am blessed with amazing doctors who, when I told them of what I was dealing with, arranged a Flight for Life to a major hospital. Another 6 weeks in intensive care. She lived and sang praises. She went home and 2 years ago suffered a bowel obstruction, surgery was performed and her belly was cut open 8 inches long and another agonizing healing process. Scar tissue developed and continued to block her colon and another surgery was required or she would die! All this is taking place mind you while I was ordered by the judge to remove all my possession's from the house. [I prayed hard and] begged for mercy for my sister who had suffered so much. In the hospital I held her hand and prayed. She said to me not to worry everything would be OK. She survived the surgery, again excruciating pain and 3 months in the hospital. Mind you during all these surgeries she was on intravenous and no food. Many weeks just a piece of ice. She was denied to go back to her home and is now in a nursing home. She weighs 105, she has pressures sores and may lose her toes. Her colostomy is leaking and is herniated. She refuses anymore surgeries and it is my duty to respect her wishes. I try to make all of her doctors appointments as she is Medicare and there is discrimination in treating the handicap with Medicare if someone doesn't watch out for them.
    [I believe our faith] profoundly changed her from the selfish person she was. She is so kind and sweet and all the love she can express. We have had deep discussions and in her narcissism and she knows it has revealed emotions and thought processes of the CD and she acknowledges it. I have never told anyone of our deep conversations as I promised to keep her confidence but it opens a window into the soul of the narcissistic mind. She is an amazing women and I am honored to have shared her experience though at times it is so draining. I am in the position of having to make funeral arrangements for her. I

    [My point is that I believe my sister] would had committed suicide if not for finding her faith. [I believe my faith has saved me also.] When I pull a weed I say and here is one for you and you. I take my frustration out on the weeds! Excellent therapy and venting, and then the burn pile. its full. Watching it burn is very cathartic. Watching the sunset over the water and hearing the Loons, watching the ducks and the bunny who is hiding in the wood pile. The garden snake living by the boathouse weeds (which I will leave). Life can be so beautiful. There are many wonderful and treasured people in this world, sometimes, we have to search them out. I have had so many people to write a book of my life experiences, that I may. Inspiration Dr. Victor Frankl, Dr. King, Corrie ten Boom, Mother Theresa. Oh, so many inspiring people with such amazing courage and strength against all odds. Yes, a beautiful day indeed! Blessings

  12. “For a long time, mental health professionals paid little attention to character and its role in people’s psychological dysfunction.”

    I am so glad I read this, realizing with amazement the extent to which the mental health professions have gone to undermine the difference between ‘treating’ a person and ‘knowing’ a person. Not to detract any credence from the well-intentioned services they provide, but it seems it is so easy to feel having been just ‘pushed aside’ during treatment, rather than sensing having been understood at a personal level.

    I say this from experience going back into short-term therapy and finally setting the record straight with myself, knowing who I am, and reclaiming my sanity. It has been exhausting and an almost self-inflicted inhumanity just ‘accepting’ every diagnosis and explanation for my emotional/mental/internal state that has been thrown my way until now, rather than defending myself and finally reconnecting with the people close to me who have suffered in my silence, while I have simultaneously suffered in the shadows. The need to reclaim what has dissolved in the labels that have been slapped on me for years has never gone away.

    More recent posts here have also touched on ‘confrontation’ and the difference between facing problems out of criticism and necessity, rather than hostility and spite. This has been so helpful in me understanding that ‘normal’ people by nature do not have secret, vengeful vendettas, but the majority of the time are simply looking after themselves. Also that hiding secrets is so corrosive. I can’t stand any longer the emotional immobility, and have even been happy-go-lucky and just contented lately going from place to place believing that I know the truth about myself, not some ‘professional’, though seeking one out has helped me get back on a better track. I am merely claiming contentment again and seeking healing, because I hate all the suspicion that has surfaced in my immediate family, and it is time to end this. Nobody cares anymore how terrible my past may have been, but what’s more important is I no longer care. My healing needs to start, not go on and on and on, in and out of countless psychiatric and counseling visits. I don’t want to fear anymore that my family believes I am ill-intention. This has been so ridiculous. My ‘keeping silent’ has been to mask my pain, and unfortunately it has been interpreted as I don’t want a relationship with anyone anymore. And now the end conclusion in the minds of others, at least appears to be, that there is something wrong with me. I’ve been wounded. That’s it. I am so glad to finally starting to conquer all this, because I know I can. I know that I love my family. Bottom line. No magic pill can do it, there are no quick fixes in life, as I have sadly been deceived into believing.

    Also having been emotionally taunted as a child/teenager, I get now my unwillingness to truly invest significant trust in just a few people, and yet insane desire and capacity to constantly reveal the reality of my internal state to anyone who will listen. Having cried literally so many times, feeling so completely isolated for so long, so drained and weary, now it’s just — STOP.

    Finally opening up about all this, knowing my name is who I am, not , knowing that I have been a lover of people all this time has begun to mentally liberate, at best, but also bind my internal state. Just because I’ve never known HOW to open up and finally put a cap on the ridiculous string of ‘suspicion’ that has clouded what relationships I have now does not mean I have no desire to do it now. It isn’t desire now, it is need. It has been enough for me to have internalized all this, but now to get I am seen in a different light, thanks to so many years of my basic uncertainties and silence, now it is heartbreaking. I am so glad to know now the distinction between keeping silent because of pain and keeping silent because of indifference. It’s a false calm. And it’s time to show other people that, not just prove it.

    I’ve already said this in my previous post, but I am so thankful for the insight on this issue of character, the making distinction between ‘crazy’ and ‘character impaired.’ ‘Crazy’ is being lost. ‘Impaired’ is being broken because of bad choices and self-deception. And it’s been so long overdue to fix all this.

    1. Hi Alan,
      A very emotional and expressive post. Could you tell me where you posted before. Can I ask you what possessed you to express your feelings here? My intentions are to better understand where you are at? Thanks

      1. Hi BTOV,

        I have posted once earlier on, under “The Character Disturbance Continuum — Part 3.” It is much wordier and drawn out than this, but my first attempt at understanding what may be/is an underlying issue.

        I was so glad to see anyone respond to this just a minute ago, just returning from a doctor’s visit that seems to have blown everything that I’ve said here right back out of the water. I have struggled in the past primarily with clinical depression, but have found the need, now, to understand “me”, not just “me” in relation to everyone else.

        I’m posting here primarily due to at least what I have alleged above about realizing that, while I know 100% I am still loved by my family, it’s just as if they don’t know anymore who that “I” is. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully know anymore, but I’m not posting here looking for explanations, I’m posting and reading looking for resolutions.

        Again, I was so glad to see someone respond to this! This website and forum has helped tremendously so far, by far to a greater extent than any combination of health services I have had to date.

        1. Hi Andy,
          I am glad my response was helpful. I’ll try to look for your other post tonight and respond after reading. I know what you mean in knowing the true “ME” not the “ME” others see. After many years of trying to please others I buried my “True self.” I(I think there is a book about people pleasing too) Many may not understand that because they probably are still reacting to your old false self. Its a lot of work to find the person we are inside. If you are truly trying to find the real you, more power to you. Andy, I always say I am a work in progress, it is painful at times but in the end it is rewarding. Have you read the book by Dr. Victor Frankl Mans Search For Meaning? Many times I will go back and read this book again and I am encouraged to go forward, my faith helps me too. I am glad you found this site too and feel comfortable posting. I have found validation by the other posters. I just wish all the kindred spirits on this site could meet somewhere and give each other a big “HUGS.” take very good care and blessings on your journey!

          1. Yes, and Yes! Both yes’s to living a false sense of self, and to people pleasing. I have worked ONLY in this kind of industry (customer service) my entire life, and it literally feels as if whatever that false self was, it is most definitely long buried now. Drained. I would say gone, but if that were the case, I wouldn’t be on this search for answers. I no longer see verbal attacks and the questioning glares/gazes of others that I so remember from my past as antagonism. Not anymore. Just mere reaction, not a deliberate attempt to destroy. I will look into the book! And thank you!!

  13. Just correcting my last reply: whatever that TRUE self was is what feels buried, not false self! Heaven forbid anyone buries their false self, instead of fight it, that would be true deception!!

  14. Hi AlanP,
    Wow, I read your response on part 3.
    Awakening is the first glimpse that things or reality are not what we thought they were. Awakening is an ongoing process. Too begin we generally need a an entry point or trigger, anything that wakes up our old understanding or belief system of reality or the way we thought things were.

    Because our true self is so hidden and our false self is so prominent, awakening is not that easy. I am glad you have decided to accept responsibility and help yourself to change. At this juncture and I am interested in more of your history but much of what you say at this point can be construed as ambiguous. I know someone that expressed the same things you said.

    Another book that might be of help is called The Man in the Mirror by Patrik Morley

    Another thought to consider is a consult with Dr. Simon, as you may know Dr. Simon is a specialist in his field and world renown and I’m sure he could help you with your diagnosis and a good treatment plan. I hope this helps!

    1. Seconding, contacting Dr Simon below seems like a good idea.

      Also, BTOV, Alan P, has either of you or anyone else here read Unlocking the Emotional Brain By Bruce Ecker? Can’t get it just yet, damn hurries back and forth, but seems like something people could appreciate.

      1. Hey Timothy, that would be a giant leap from what I am undergoing now, but it is sufficient at this point gaining the insight from Dr. Simon’s posts and finding answers in the forums. I think I need to get In Sheep’s Clothing, also.

        I have not read Unlocking the Emotional Brain, but Bruce Ecker sounds familiar. I have a reading list growing now!

  15. Hey again, BTOV,

    Thanks for the book recommendations, I have always been a big reader!

    Yes, I see my initial post as primarily descriptive of my internal state as well, as opposed to the more expressive responses here. I too believe now that awakening is ongoing, it’s like all the subconscious icky-ness (I couldn’t think of a cleaner ‘dirty’ word for the forum lol) — repression? — is finally bubbling to the surface. My first post was I think me stirring all that together. But it is my utter weariness, mostly body and spirit as opposed to mind, disgust with it all, that is now prompting me to find a solution.

    You know, I think of movies like ‘The Matrix’ that deliver this ‘awakening’ message in entertainment. And it’s all so believable, however ‘deep’ the storyline, when you are delivered this kind of subliminal ‘help’ — But to experience it for yourself? For many it seems only if you want to. A lot of baseline Christian principles are at work here as well, and I’m almost ecstatic (even though it hurts!) to be in a place where I NEED to be receptive of this, and seeing myself have a listening ear. I think I’ve been in this place for a while, just never knowing HOW to start, not so much where to start.

    ‘Cleaning up house’ is a good parallel! And I am working on the ‘body’ aspect right now with basic diet, exercise, and self-care.

    This is basically where I am right now, but that ‘history’ that you speak of is actually something I am at this very moment working through in counseling. It is (my history) a bit intense. But writing through it, which is what I am dabbling in a bit here, is the method I am using, yet I won’t spill out anything further, at least here, as I am under care. My only concern with this is that I have been so good at writing in the past (journals, college papers, etc.) that I’m almost afraid it won’t have the desired effect. The next ten days will tell.

    I will revisit here again soon, and Thanks Again!

    Alan P

    1. AlanP,
      Dr. Simon wrote a good article on Change. Beware it does not happen overnight, and It is extremely hard work. A work in progress so to speak and just when you feel confident those old messages/tapes can lure you back. So beware of the mania and take one day at a time. I do believe many of these are all addictive behaviors. I asked a doc today that specializes in narcissism if one can change and he believes one can given the individual is willing to make amends and with a lot of dedicated hard work, however, it can take years. He has several successes but that is in 30 years of practice. One has to want to change and for good not a quick fix in the here and now. Again, truly think about a consult with Dr. Simon he is very astute and may shed light on what others may not see without spinning your wheels in the wrong direction.
      Blessings and I hope you can truly find yourself.

  16. BTOV,
    Thank you again. I do want to try and make this my ‘last’ post here for the time being, but yes, I have had at least one person already say to me to my face that all this does not happen overnight. Boy, they weren’t kidding. I will admit here that you are right, my history involves a form of addictive behavior. And a step further, you are even more right about how my search for understanding where I am coming from has been my own private, self-induced hell of spinning wheels and denial. It seems to me, looking in on from an outside perspective on myself, that I can be too quick to believe that I am this or that, one ‘label’ or ‘disorder’ or ‘personality type’ over another. I do have to be more careful in this regard, and am ‘working’ on that also. I am convinced Dr. Simon would be able to assess this for himself, and I will keep this site as an option, but would just need to gauge the level of when this move would be appropriate … I just wish everyone around me would lessen the intensity of trying to figure me out, and just let me continue to do it on my own. I have always been an intense learner, not to at all say I prefer learning on my own, but to say it gives me greater hope for all this. The breathing room is there, the space to do it, right now, and I am at base level thankful for that.
    I really do feel the support from this forum, and Thanks Again.

  17. Alan P,
    When and if you come back please post on this topic to continue our conversation. I am not always able to follow the blog and this way I can find you here and likewise myself and not get lost in new discussion. And I will answer you.

    I hope you decide to come back I have several questions I would like to ask you. You might be able to clarify some things for me and if I can be of help to you to please let me know. I’m going to reread your other post again, there is so much there that is coming from you and somewhat revealing.

    In a way its a two way street in that I lost myself for a long time and am finding that lost person too. I will say its gutsy of you to post here, but at the same time maybe even healing. Dr. Simon monitors his site well and no one here will give sway to any continued narcissistic abuse. I can say there are very intuitive and intelligent individuals that have been severely hurt by the CD that find Dr. Simons blog a safe refuge.
    Blessings

    1. BTOV,

      I’ve accepted your invite, and the liberty of Dr. Simon’s forum to write here again.

      It has been ten days since beginning short-term therapy and breaking up all the hardened clay, the thoughts I mulled through here before. Someone said it here, I believe it was you, that people will continue to react to someone’s ‘false self’ as long as it is there to react to. This is so true.

      But I’ve come to an almost, but not entirely liberating conclusion, that it doesn’t matter. My emotions are no longer ‘stuffed’ or ‘bottled up’, but rather solidified. There can’t be any short-fused ‘rise’ out of me because I am beginning to heal. These years of retrospecting have brought me to realize that past lashings-out of anger were always in response to pain, past violations of my own boundaries, never, ever done in an aggressively vindictive way. It is the only kind of indifference that is healing, one that comes from my long drawn-out history of needing to people-please. It’s been, ironically, an almost positive negative transformation.

      I think that this drive to people-please is the wellspring of every kind of neurosis, and I’ve discovered that as long as I remain complacent, everyone will continue to react to this ‘false self,’ which was almost like a hologram self, spouting out wound-driven anger and frustration, much of which, scarily and honestly, I have little memory of. But I’ve also discovered the small steps in regaining what I have lost, always feeling dead inside, never, ever giving myself enough credit for making through what I have already made it through. Pain, whether it is ‘psychosomatic’ (it is definitely emotionally-based) or not, still lingers.

      A year ago this May, I would still be feeling overwhelming guilt for never having taken more control of my life, watching a sibling get married, things changing all around me. I have two younger sisters, one sensible and intuitive, the other sentimental, but often over-emotional. And they’ve had to move on in their own way. I feel more guilty about being so detached from them for so long, more guilt about that than anything else … but having to accept this, and yet always having that listening ear, has been helpful. I’m actually really proud of how smart they are, how uncompromising they are to find and stay on their own paths. I knew long ago that they would ‘be okay,’ I would even pray about it as I was going through my own hell. And for one of them, those prayers have been answered. I’ve been growing closer to the other, in a sort of way to make up for the missing link I have in my relationship with the other. But now, I need to continue paying more attention and initiative to changing, uprooting my own insecurities, getting this gaping wound to finally heal.

      I’ve been in a bit of a vulnerable state lately, getting sad or disappointed when I see people all around me, having just returned to a ‘home’ community, react to my false self. But again, I don’t care. This really serves no other purpose anymore than to guide me now. There is no other path before me but forward. And why would I be fool enough now to react in any negative ways? To jeopardize what little that I have now? To mull around doing nothing? Where has it gotten me so far?

      You said it is gutsy of me to post here, it is; but you also said it may be healing. It has been that, too. The scars from what I put myself through are long from being mended, but again, there can be no other way now but up.

      And BTOV, Heaven will help us all, once we begin to realize that we need to change.

  18. Dr. Simon,

    I have both of your books, In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance and they certainly describe the disturbed character I am living with, which is my teenage stepson. We had been going to family therapy, where the psychologist was analysing the family unit as a whole, and coming totally from a Freudian psychology point of view and explaining all of his bad behavior as defense mechanisms and compensation. She completely dismissed any and all of my trying to bring to her attention what was going on in any other terms than describing him as a hurt, mistrustful and wounded child. I even gave her a photocopy of a chapter from Sheep’s Clothing about Amanda, the child with too much power in the family, I doubt she even considered it.

    Your books have helped clarify many things for me and I consider them to be valuable resources. Getting my wife on board to even consider this alternative viewpoint has been nearly impossible because, after all, it involves calling him a “disturbed character,” or a person who lacks character and integrity, which means to her that I am “speaking negatively of him,” even though he is clearly aggressive toward her and fills her life with hours of drama and grief. So, rather than doing that, I am just coming from your suggestions about how to deal with disturbed characters and hoping she will get the point.

    Briefly, my stepson is openly hostile and engaged in all-out warfare against me, with a take no prisoners, no compromise attitude. His tactic toward his mother is what you have called impression management, in which he balances rudeness, aggression and selective paying attention with just the right amount of affection to keep her in line and I do believe this balance is conscious on his part, or becoming more so as he grows older. I am essentially seeing the making of a future wife beater, and what I know about those kinds of characters is that they alternate affection with abuse which helps the victim stay for more of the same treatment.

    In closing, he is also the kind of character who would have a day of reckoning where he settles the score with all the people who have not let him have his way or who stand in the way of what he wants, starting with us, maybe next down at the school. I cannot predict the future, but this is certainly one of the possible outcomes, based on what I know about him. I had to take away his violent video games when he started talking about mass murder and killing his family. He said he could do either of these things “because there no God in heaven who is going to come down and stop me.” (He says there is no God, and unlike many atheists who believe they can be moral without God’s help, his view is that since there is no God, there is no right and wrong and also no higher power that can stop him from doing whatever he wants.) When my wife asked why he would want to kill his family, he said, “Because I can.”

    I hadn’t meant this to be a long comment, and this is just scratching the surface of what is going on. I don’t think there is anything in him that neurotics have, like being concerned what others think, wanting to make sure he is liked, wanting to give back and be fair, nor is there any gratitude for anything, and, he never, ever, apologizes for anything.

    1. Hello James,
      My heart goes out to you, I too, have and individual family member like you describe. Can I ask you how he addresses you, by what name does he call his mother? When he apologizes does the “I am sorry” sound hollow or he may not say it at all. Many times the please and thank you are missing too.

      James, Dr. Simon is so right about these individuals, I have read and read psychology and psychiatry for years. All I can tell you is Dr. Simon is the only one that has Hit the Nail on the Head about the CD. There is not an article I don’t agree with. The personalities of the manipulators Dr. Simon describes is just a small part of what these monsters are capable of.

      Whatever, you do don’t underestimate what he is will do, considering you know what he is up to. Document everything and you may have to go to the authorities, I don’t want to scare you but if this is what your stepson is saying and doing, it sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. Read the transcript of the manifesto written by that teenager I think in California.

      Please read the prior topics by Dr. Simon, and the comments by posters on this site. Whatever you do be very careful they are very clever and cunning and the “payback pal” which I am dealing with and what you are dealing with can be deadly.

      Not to frighten you, I’m really alarmed by your post. Please make sure he does not have access to your computer, do not give anyone and I mean anyone your password, if you own guns get them out of your house immediately. It sounds like your wife is in dire need of counseling too. Remember you are dealing with at least two individuals in need of help. Don’t engage but be proactive, he may want to get you out of the way and see you as the instigator and the one that stands in his way.

      Please feel like posting any time, there are some deep thinkers here with experience from dealing with the CD in their life, they are compassionate and supportive. You may want to think seriously of consulting with Dr. Simon on your situation, things could escalate and become deadly fast, I would not wait to long.

      Another good book you may want to read is People of the Lie by the late Scott Peck. It sounds like you are a Christian, The Devil is Alive and Well on Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. Pray and protect yourself, this is “Evil” talking and if its as bad as it sounds think of contacting Dr. Simon or a qualified Doctor immediately this is serious!

      Blessings and my prayers are with you

      1. Hi BTOV,
        He doesn’t call us anything unusual. He calls his mother “mom” and me, “James.” As far as apologies, he doesn’t. I see you mention you have a familly member who is also a disturbed character.

        I’ve already considered documenting everything, but haven’t yet. He returns from summer vacation with his grandparents in September and that would be a good time to start that. As far as what he is saying and doing, I have considered and I do realize that he talks about things before doing them (as do the school shooters with their manifestos, and I often read news stories about these people and I see the similar patterns).

        An example of him talking, then doing, was that for his 8th grade graduation, he kept telling us that he didn’t want any family members to come to it. Family members were coming from far away for this event that was special, at least to them. There was limited space for this event, so the school gives out three passes per child for their family members. On the day of the graduation, he gave all his passes away to other kids, and told his mother the story that he gave into peer pressure and the other kids made him do it. I remembered how he had been announcing his desire to be without family at the event and I also saw his cold impassioned face (plus the “I told you so” look) as he was staring at his mother when she heard this and started crying, and I realized it was intentional. (To make a long story short, when we told the school, they called the other families and got the tickets back.) But it is an example of: he said all along he was going to do it.

        I appreciate the comments everyone has made here. I may consider the Skype option for consulting Dr. Simon.

    2. James,

      Things that you have described in your “short comment” are alarming. I will strongly suggest you to change therapist. She is enabler to a bad behavior, and that will make the behavior worse over a period of time. There are some articles here that explain what to look for in a therapist. You should look for them and read them. Also, look for articles that explain CBT to address character disturbance and how “B” part is conveniently left out of therapy. I am sure those articles will surely help you in finding good therapist who “understands” the problem and is comfortable with walking the hard path of improving bad behavior. Things sounds serious enough that I doubt if you alone with your unwilling wife can handle them on your own. A therapist who “understands” and has past experience in dealing with such cases will be helpful. A therapist who takes easy way out by not addressing the problem head on and instead makes you feel guilty or responsible somehow will probably be worst thing that can happen.
      You can contact Dr Simon directly. He may be kind enough to point you to right direction.

      1. James, I think Dr. Simon does limited evaluations via Sykpe this might be a tool for you to utilize at least giving you validation and if the stepson can be examined I think you would get answers to what needs to be done. At least DR. Simon with his training an expertise in the field would know within a short time who and what you are dealing with. Again prayers.

      2. Andy,
        Yes it is alarming. We’re not going to the same therapist because I no longer see the point of going to her. She wouldn’t even consider anything I had to say, at least not in the terms I was saying it, and described all – and I mean all – his behavior as something a neurotic person would do. But I also know he has no (or little) guilt, concern for the value of other people, shame, etc., so this would not be consistent with what I know about him. Also, another telling sign is that it does not trouble him or tire him out to be the way he is to us, and he even seems to enjoy it. As I often tell my wife, “he’s only just getting started.” I will look up information on CBT as you suggest. No, I don’t think I can handle this on my own.

        1. James,
          One of the CD I have to deal with was brought to a psychiatrist at an early age say (9) due to behavior issues. This individual said when the Dr. asked them questions they completely clamed up. In retrospect I know now this is already a serious CD in this individual in that they had thought how to out smart the Dr. by not answering.

      3. Andy,

        This is a useful direction. I am looking into CBT. This makes sense, because it is not about past events, but the behavior here and now. I think also telling my wife that I’ve been studying CBT and that we need to look for a CBT therapist might help. Because right now, the issues get personalized, for example, she tells me “you just didn’t like what the psychologist was saying and you want to find someone to tell you what you want to hear.” This is reducing it to the ridiculous and causes me to present my case from weak ground. Of course I didn’t like what the psychologist was saying, because I though she was missing the mark and she would not consider anything I had to say and told me my all perceptions were wrong. (She had based everything on a few private sessions with him and had already made up her mind when it was time for my first session.) One of the things she told me was that “your negative thoughts about him are keeping him in a box, so he can’t change.” And, “Don’t you think he is aware you think negative things about him and how do you think that makes him feel?”

        Now, at least I can introduce the idea that I’m looking for a CBT therapist who will address behavior. It will also help me to know what kind of questions to ask potential therapists, so I can have more discernment of what I’m getting into.

        The first therapist we worked with turned out to be a social worker (I was new to this and did not understand that the initials in her title, LSW, meant licensed social worker and also, she was passing herself off as a psychologist, with the by appointment therapy arrangment she had). When my wife emailed her with information for the next session, which included hopeful information, such as that my stepson was beginning to communicate with his father on Skype, but also that my stepson was kicking me and I restrained him, she called Child Services and reported that the child was in danger. They contacted his doctors and the school, looking for signs of abuse and bruises, which meant in reality that I, and not he, was being investigated. I also considered this a foretaste of what I might expect, that really I would suffer from the consequences of his actions, rather than it being placed squarely on him. We got a clean bill of health from Child Services, but I consider this the first of many of whatever is coming our way. I used to tell my wife when he was ten, just based on the behavior I saw at the moment, that we can expect visits from the police and social workers and legal fees all through his teen years.

        Now, round two in this is that I have learned not to seek therapists who use the usual Freudian analysis, which might be helpful for many people, but not for disturbed characters, and that I should look a therapist who will apply the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (As well as how I should address behavior as it is happening.)

        1. Reposting after removing web links. My previous comment is still under moderation, maybe because it did not pass some automated advertisement checks. 🙂

          James,

          Good to know you find it useful. I read in one of the article somewhere on this website that states, “many professionals that claim to do CBT, actually do just CT, with minimal focus on B”. My interpretation is that it is far to easy to do C part, it just entails talking without any commitment, whereas B part involves hard work of detection and correction on the spot. Just read on to get better idea.

          You may also want to check following recent articles (without full web link)
          /a-primer-on-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/
          /cognitive-behavioral-therapy-primer-pt-2/
          /the-mechanics-of-genuine-cbt/
          /cognitive-behavioral-therapy-primer-wrap-up/
          /learning-to-confront-benignly-and-effectively/
          /the-structure-of-therapeutic-confrontation/
          /benign-and-effective-confrontation-wrap-up/

          If I go by my experience, then just reading, understanding, and agreeing is the easy part. Actually dealing with the person is very difficult. In one encounter with narcissist’s flying monkey, I was on defensive. Dealing with the real one is expected to be lot worse. But, I will be getting better. 🙂
          You still need a therapist. In fact, I will say situation is probably worse after meeting Freudian psychiatrist. And, you still need your wife’s support.
          One thing that has helped me in convincing few, very few, people about character disturbance is picking the example of some very old CD people (hopefully the one that are already exposed) that are known to both of us and discussing their past, their consistent bad behavior, their wrong thinking pattern, sometime even their last manipulative trick in their dying breath. Just pick few such people as example and hammer away your message. And, know that some people will not simply get it (yet). You cannot make anyone understand by force.

          1. Andy,

            Thanks for the articles. I’m going read them. I agree that learning and understanding are the easy part, and that dealing with the disturbed character is the hard part. At least I feel I’m taking steps in the right direction. Just read an article to my wife about the different between being on the defense and being on the offense. My wife points out that her son/ my stepson does not act up at school. The only thing I could think to say is that they would not accept any of the behavior he gets away with at home, and that more importantly, he knows that in advance and doesn’t try it. (Though I am wondering about some future catastrophic event at the school, where the familiar refrain is once again repeated, “He was such a quiet kid. He was the last one I thought would ever do something like that.”)

            Your note about the Freudian psychologist having done damage to the situation is true. Things she told him about me have turned into “news he can use.” Such as, “You can’t say anything to me, because you had parents who didn’t care about you, so you don’t even know how to be a parent.” She told me that there would be a long road to repentance to have my stepson finally accept me, after a long period of trying to make things up to him. The issue here being that I pushed him away and rejected him when he first moved here. It’s true that I got so annoyed with the kid that I often just left him alone. So, now he’s been rejected by his real father and his stepfather. There is some truth to this. When I met the psychologist halfway and at least agreed to consider this rejection on my part, I asked, well his mother has never rejected him and he treats her extremely badly. She went on to talk about defense mechanisms and his wish to never be hurt again, and essentially shelved my question, saying it is a matter she is talking about between the two of them, but not with me.

            Your comments are helpful. I found it hopeful today that my wife said she would at least consider these things.

            And, your narcissist’s flying monkey, is that his/her usual modus operandi you’re referring to, and how you’re learning to deal with it?

            I would have to tread carefully in selecting well-known disturbed characters as examples to explain things to my wife, because I would be then saying I’m comparing her son to these people. There is her best friend’s ex, who used to beat her in private and in such a way that the bruises were not visible when she was clothed. He also mixed abuse with kindness and affection, and always said he loved her (which is what my stepson is skilled at doing). I could tell her that I don’t want her son to grow up to be like that guy.

          2. Good luck James!
            It is clearly visible from your comments that you have clearer picture of the dynamics at home/school/therapy, and you are trying to do right things. It is hard job, and right thing to do, for any good parent.

            Do keep on reading blogs here. You may also want to read ones that talk about difference between regret & contrition, and apologizing by empty words vs actually showing behavior change in real actions. Just read on for few weeks. If you are dealing with character disturbance, then this website is best resource.

  19. Ok, apologies if this point has already been raised (on a quick scan of the comments it didn’t look like it, but I didn’t read all of them carefully).

    I want to question this piece of the message: There is an inextricable relationship between the symptoms of psychological ill health a person is likely to display and their basic character structure.

    How do we know this? Dr. Simon gives anecdotal examples, but does that make it universally true? If so, then how is it different from the old and very dangerous paradigm that if someone experiences mental illness, it’s because their character is flawed?

    As a counter-anecdote from my own life: I’ve been through SEVERE and long-lasting depression that went untreated for a long time because I was convinced I was just weak, sad, ineffectual, etc. When medical intervention didn’t help, it seemed only to confirm this. But in reality, it turns out I’m actually allergic to gluten, which functions in my brain as a neurotoxin. Take away the toxin, and I’m pretty much ok–residual damage from the years of depression, but not at all fundamentally flawed.

    I think it’s fair to hypothesize a connection between one’s character and one’s susceptibility to mental illness. But claiming an “inextricable relationship” is (a) really vague, even though it sounds meaningful, and (b) overbroad in that it tends to blame suffering people for their own suffering. I don’t approve of bootstrap arguments: they devolve too often into blaming the victim.

    1. DC,

      My take on “There is an inextricable relationship between the symptoms of psychological ill health a person is likely to display and their basic character structure.”

      It is not “someone experiences mental illness, it’s because their character is flawed”

      It just means certain type of character traits tend to have certain type of problems. For example:
      – a narcissist may feel elated throughout life, and then may feel completely crushed at some point in life
      – emotionally dependent -> tension in interpersonal life
      – socially avoidant -> panic on stage
      – a neurotic with too much conscientiousness -> low self-esteem, depression after running into some manipulators

      1. What you say actually makes a lot of sense, although I don’t know if you can argue that character inspires *all* symptoms of psychological distress. Lots of people feel crushed, get stage fright, etc. without being narcissistic/avoidant/whatever, and the inverse is probably true as well. As in, not every sign of unwellness in a narcissist is inextricably tied to their narcissism, any more than all joint pain is necessarily the result of childhood polio, even in a patient who once had it.

        I guess I’m also unclear on the definition of “character.” For example, is a pattern of social avoidance really a character trait, or is it itself a symptom of psychological distress? Aren’t we in some ways defining character traits *in terms of* the psychological experiences that (ha) characterize them? Because if so, maybe one reason the two categories seem “inextricable” is that they’re not really distinct categories in the first place.

        1. DC,
          I am not expert. You can read some blogs on personality, and character traits on this website.
          My quick notes will be:
          – personality: a person’s preferred way of dealing with world
          – personality traits: specific aspect of personality. a trait could be good or bad
          – character: good traits that help human society, like honesty etc

          What you say is true, “Lots of… the inverse is probably true as well.”
          The consistency or preferred way of dealing is key thing. One or two instances are not enough to categorize someone.

          For “social avoidance really a character trait, or is it itself a symptom of psychological distress”
          Social avoidance will be a preferred way of dealing. In extreme cases, it will be serious handicap in someones personality. In some cases it can be symptom of psychological distress. Going by our definition of character, “social avoidance” will not qualify as character, it will be just a personality trait.

          It is best to read things first in the blog, instead of relying on my interpretation. Search for blogs on personality and character. 🙂

    2. DC, I think you misconstrue the postulate here. There are indeed illnesses that are primarily rooted in neurobiological anomalies. My book Character Disturbance more fully outlines the inter-relationship between the various diagnostic axes. Even in those cases where neurobiology is the prime cause of illness, character issues can play a significant role in their expression. And in those cases where neurobiology plays a not so lopsided role, character issues can make all the difference in how symptoms are expressed.

      gs

  20. Even in those cases where neurobiology is the prime cause of illness, character issues can play a significant role in their expression. And in those cases where neurobiology plays a not so lopsided role, character issues can make all the difference in how symptoms are expressed.

    I’m still not sure what you’re saying here. “Character issues can affect biological expression” –> If I’m gluten-intolerant, it might be worse because I’m also sad, pathetic, and ineffectual? (Just playing devil’s advocate here.) Would you say that the inverse is true as well, in that that biology affects character? So maybe the reason I’m sad, pathetic, and ineffectual is that it’s all in my genes?

    1. Hi DC,

      You should read some articles on personality and character as they are used by Dr. Simon.
      That should clarify some of your doubts.

    2. Typed enter too soon.

      Hi DC,

      You should read some articles on personality and character as they are used by Dr. Simon.
      That should clarify some of your doubts.

      Also, this blog as well as books are focused on character disturbance. So, things that are said here may not always be applicable to disorders and illness that are rooted in neurobiolgy, chemical imbalance in brain, or neuroticism etc.

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