TW: Personality Disorders, Emotional Abuse, and Self-Harm
*Disclaimer*: Everything discussed in this blog post is based on both my personal experiences and years of research and education in psychology.
Please take everything with a grain of salt and be aware that everyone's experience with mental health diagnoses are different.
This article is a general discussion of personality disorders and the effect they have on the people living with them and those around them and is not meant to be a diagnostic tool.
Let's talk about narcissistic abuse and Cluster B personality disorder abuse.
First, I'm really sorry if you happen to be diagnosed with a Cluster B personality disorder. This is not to make you feel bad or put you down. I understand that mental health issues are the same as having diabetes (for example) or any other physiological disorder/disease. Nature and nurture is important for development, but it's still physiological at the end of the day.
This is to help people who are suffering from experiencing these relationships. So no offense, but I'm trying to reach those that have dealt with this sort of abuse.
Personality disorders are broken down into 3 categories: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C. Today I want to discuss Cluster B personality disorders, also known as the erratic and dramatic personality disorders..
Individuals living with these disorders can often be difficult to be in relationships with, either intimate relationships, family relationships, or even friendships.
Being around them can be emotionally and mentally draining. You may have experienced a relationship like this in the past, or maybe you currently are.
That's why I'm here to give you a quick breakdown on these personality disorders, what red flags to look for, and how to break the cycle of abuse.
Cluster B Personality Disorders are often referred to as the "erratic and dramatic" personality disorders. There are 4 of them:
Antisocial Personality Disorder:
This is your classic sociopath. They want control. They are often unconcerned with others' feelings, are quick to blame others, can be aggressive or even violent, and lack the ability to experience guilt or remorse.
Borderline Personality Disorder:
These individuals feel empty and are constantly trying to fill their emptiness. They have affect (emotion) regulation issues, and can be quick to lash out when someone threatens to leave them. Ever had someone threaten to harm themselves or kill themselves when you tried to leave? They might be living with this disorder.
Histrionic Personality Disorder:
They want the attention to always be on them. They can be super dramatic and shallow, and are always doing something to bring the attention back to them (no matter how inappropriate).
Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
They want constant praise and admiration. They can be interpersonally exploitative, express a strong sense of entitlement and grandiosity.
Each disorder has their own unique need that dramatically changes the experience of both the person with the disorder and those around them.
There is a cycle. Idealization, devalue, and discard.
In my experience, I have seen this cycle over and over again with narcissistic and antisocial individuals, specifically, but those with borderline personality disorder can facilitate this cycle too.
Let's break this cycle down.
Idealization... It's constant attention and praise. It kind of feels like empty flattery after a while if you really start to pay attention. Right from the beginning they're obsessed with you, you're "soul-mates," you're exactly the same, they try to move the relationship really quickly and may talk about your future together even if you've only been together for a short while.
Here's what starts to happen. This intense obsession starts to fade. You're left thinking what changed, did I do something wrong, is it me?
If you try to confront them about it, they turn it around on you. They'll say things like you're too sensitive, you're being insecure, you sound crazy. They gaslight you. They tell you that you're toxic when you're calling out their toxic behavior... although they don't recognize it as such. And soon... you're questioning your own sanity.
These people can be pathological liars and will go to lengths to protect their identity and integrity. They may even start to believe their own lies.
You may notice that what they say and what they do is completely different. They might say yeah I'm super kind and nice... but for the most part, if people have to keep saying what kind of person they are, chances are they are not that kind of person. Pay more attention to what they do rather than what they say.
Devaluing... Now that the idealization and obsession with you has faded, the criticizing begins. They may start to pull away. They continue telling you that you're crazy and delusional, they try harder to back up their lies... all because they can tell the relationship is starting to crumble.
Cluster B disorders, specifically narcissistic, histrionic, and borderline, tend to have very fragile egos. The grandiosity, attention seeking behaviors, and poor emotion regulation skills all stem from a place of fragility and fear of being alone. They simply cannot fathom the idea of not being needed or idealized by someone.
Here's where the discard comes in. They will try to leave you before you leave them. If you try to leave first, they will be pissed. Things may get worse. They may become more aggressive, turn up the gaslighting, and possibly become violent. They will not allow you to have the power of leaving first.
Some of the time, they may already have another person lined up if it's a romantic relationship. This may cause you to second-guess yourself even more. You'll start asking yourself have they been cheating on me this whole time?
In either case, you're always left with this feeling that it's your fault.
Simply put, it sucks. I've been in this position more times than I care to remember... but it has helped me learn so much about myself and others that I made it my mission to heal and break the cycle.
Here's how I got started...
I did my research and read as many books on the subject as I could. Two really amazing books I recommend that helped me so much are Psychopath Free and Whole Again, both by Jackson MacKenzie.
Whole Again is all about mindfulness and healing our core wound, which is something I teach in my program The New You School.
A lot of us that might have attracted these people, may have early childhood trauma or substance abuse issues. There is usually some kind of co-dependency issue underneath.
However, at the same time the types of people that they "prey" on are usually very independent, successful, and attractive people. It gives them a bigger ego boost if they can tear someone down that was doing well in life. Underneath it all, their targets are usually very empathetic, hopeless romantics, and idealistic, stemming from insecurities or co-dependency issues.
We really need to work within ourselves to heal our insecurities and co-dependency issues so that we can break this cycle and no longer be pawns in their games.
Mindfulness is such a huge part of this. With mindfulness, self-awareness, self-love, and the ability to recognize red flags, we can stop this behavior.
I used to date people with these disorders all the time, and I would always wonder why they changed out of nowhere. The reality is... they were like that the entire time. I was just blind to it.
In addition to keeping an eye out for red flags, we need to work on mindfulness and self-healing.
My program The New You School is all about empowering you and getting you to a point of self-love and self-acceptance.
Once we get in touch with our intuition and reach a place of self-love, we start to recognize these patterns of abuse.
It's not an overnight change to a place of self-acceptance and self-love. I was trapped in this cycle for years with so many people before I finally realized what I was overlooking or ignoring. I'm still on my journey.
The good news is, now that I'm finally aware of what is going on underneath the surface on both ends, I can finally break free of this cycle.
I'm positive that the next person I date will be right for me. I've healed myself and now make it a point to only have fulfilling and positive relationships (friendships, intimate relationships, or familial). I've cut every toxic person out of my life as soon as I realized that their energies do not serve me or my growth.
I want to pay it forward. I want to share all my tips with you in my program. I am committed to helping you heal and reach self-acceptance and self-love.
I am here for you.
If you would like any help or support, please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Here are some other books that have really helped me heal:
Sitting Target: How and Why the Narcissist Chooses You by H.G. Tudor
Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
Go to www.TheNewYouSchool.com to learn more.