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personality disorders

Is it Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Some teenagers act as if they have antisocial personality disorder

I once knew a family with a son who was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.  The “kid” had grown up in a wealthy subdivision with a father who was a former professional athlete.  The “kid” had everything that most “kids” would want.  In high school, he had a brand new car that he immediately totaled after a party.  He was in trouble with the law several times during high school.

When his father tried to put his foot down, his mother took the “kid’s” side.  She thought he would grow out of it.  Others said that his behavior was the result of “privilege”, which certainly didn’t help, but it is clear that not every wealthy kid is a spoiled brat – and a dangerous one at that.

Antisocial Personality DisorderRather than using his position and financial ability to go to college and earn a degree, he started doing drugs and got kicked out.  He was sent to a famous rehabilitation center where as soon as he “dried out”, he beat up a staff member and was thrown out.  He went home and beat up his girlfriend, but his mother hired the most expensive lawyer available, and he was given probation.  He was arrested with a sizeable amount of drugs – and again was bailed out by his mother.

This went on for a number of years – but the teenage behavior never stopped.  He finally exhausted the judge’s leniency and ended up in a state penitentiary.  Each time, he blamed his behavior on someone else.  He wouldn’t have gotten drunk if he hadn’t been so mad, he wouldn’t have beaten his girlfriend if she had just done what he said… and on and on.  This “kid” was 35 by the time he went to prison, but he never understood what he had done wrong.  It was still someone else’s fault.

When someone is disagreeable, people will often say “He is anti-social.”  What they are referring to is an actual psychiatric diagnosis, Antisocial Personality Disorder, but just because someone is disagreeable or even downright rude doesn’t mean they have the condition.

A personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of behavior that is not “acceptable” by cultural standards.  It is readily seen as abnormal behavior and usually starts in adolescence or early adulthood.  In order to qualify as a “disorder”, it must lead to personal distress or impairment.

Antisocial personality disorder cannot be diagnosed until the age of 18 because many of the “symptoms” seem like typical teenage behavior.  It is characterized by disregarding and violating the rights of other people.  Many teenagers act as if they have antisocial personality disorder – but they don’t.  In addition, in order to be labeled as “antisocial“, there must have been some conduct disorder symptoms before age 15 – or the time kids are often worst as teenagers.

Ashamed of Mental Health StigmasThings that kids do or say during the teen years, don’t count.

A person with antisocial personality disorder has a general disdain for the rights of other people and may violate those rights on a routine basis.  They may be charming, but ruthless and are likely to be irresponsible, irritable, and aggressive.  They are also likely to be in legal trouble and likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Antisocial Personality disorder also comes in a range of severity.  A person with mild antisocial personality disorder could be compared to a teenager who continuously borrows her mother’s jewelry when she has been told not to.  This would not be completely out of the norm in some teen girls, but in adults, it may indicate pathology.

People with more dangerous or harmful behavior are referred to as sociopaths or even psychopathsSociopaths have even less regard for someone else’s rights or property and may not even feel the need to argue if confronted – acting like a schoolyard bully.  Psychopaths are said to have a complete lack of conscience and are unable to recognize the violation and do not have the ability to empathize – something like “The Joker” in Batman.

People with antisocial behavior patterns are also extremely manipulative and splendid liars.  It is hard to tell what is true and what is not true.  They may appear to be friendly when they want something, or they may attempt suicide when they want something else.  It is a fine line to walk, whether to believe them or not.

Unfortunately, personality disorders are not something that can be changed through medication.  In this case, it is a failure of conscience, and there is no pill for that.  In some cases, therapy can work but the therapist must be very skilled in order to avoid being manipulated themselves.

Melissa Lind

It Is Not Just Our Own Boundaries BPD People Have Problems With

Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder, Part-2

Remember last time when I talked about the friend that “wouldn’t be my friend anymore” if I didn’t blow up frogs with him?  Well, my boundaries as an adult haven’t gotten much better.  For example:

“Sure, honey.  You can go back to your job as a stripper.  It’s just dancing, right?  I’ll totally overlook the fact that you are shaking your naked jiggly bits at strange men.  Just don’t leave me.

I’m paraphrasing, but I spoke basically those same words to my ex-wife, who also has Borderline Personality Disorder (and was in fact the first time I ever heard the term before).

BoundaryNow, I’m sure there are some open-minded guys out there who would legitimately have no problem with their wife being a stripper.  There are few guys who I’m sure would be totally turned on by it.  Well, I’m not one of those guys.  I’m old-fashioned, and by old-fashioned, I mean “jealous and possessive.”  What I wanted to say was:

“You are my wife.  Yes.  They’re your jiggly bits, but the only person I’m cool with you shaking them at is me.”

But did I tell her that?  No way!  She wanted to do it, so I said “do it.” Then went and cried about it, just like I cried about the frogs.

That’s my own biggest boundary problem.  I’m terrified both of asking for what I want and telling people what I will and will not accept from them.  And that really sucks.

Now… it’s not just our own boundaries people with BPD have problems with, but respecting the boundaries of others, too.   Here’s an example of what I mean.  Let’s pretend that what follows is a series of text messages between me and a former girlfriend of mine (we’ll call her Justine, because it’s not her real name, but it’s a totally hot name for a girlfriend to have, in my opinion).  I’d like to say these hypothetical texts are wildly exaggerated, but in reality, they probably aren’t.  And yes, we BOTH use proper grammar when we text.

JUSTINE: “Sorry, Bruce, but I can’t see you this weekend.  My son has a paper I have to help him with and I’ve GOT to get this project done by Monday.”

BRUCE: “You need space because you want to work on your art?  But the weekends are my time with you!  You NEVER wanna spend time with me anymore.”

JUSTINE: “I know we haven’t seen each other much lately, and I’m sorry.  I hate to not see you, but I really will be too busy.”

BRUCE: “Guess I’m just not very important to you.  You must not love me anymore, so I’m gonna send you mean, accusatory text messages and try to make you feel like a total waste of flesh.  You hurt me, so I’m gonna hurt you.”

That’s paraphrasing.  When I’m in “the zone,” I just do it.  I NEVER admit to it… at least not until after the fact.  I’m working on it.  And then, after five or ten minutes with no response from her, I start again.

BRUCE: “I’m sorry.  I’m a terrible person.  You deserve better.  I’m breaking up with you because I totally suck and should be destroyed.”

And another five minutes.  No response from her.

BRUCE: “Please stop ignoring me!  I don’t ignore you!  Can’t you see how much this is hurting me?”

And in less than two minutes…

BRUCE: “Don’t leave me!  I’m sorry!  I’m sorry!  I’M SORRY!”

And then I go cry, just like I did for exploded frogs and wiggled jiggly bits.  And ten minutes later, I get a reply.

JUSTINE: “Um… I was driving.  Stop being such a drama queen, Bruce.”

BRUCE: “I’m sorry.”

JUSTINE: “It’s OK.”

BRUCE: “Please don’t hate me.”

JUSTINE: “I don’t hate you, but I have to get to work now.”

BRUCE: “OK.  I’m sorry.”

Ten minutes.  No response.

BRUCE: “Please don’t leave me!”

I know, I know.  Pathetic.  I’d like to say I’m not that bad anymore, but considering I did something almost exactly like this when I opened my eyes this morning, I’d be lying.

Keep in mind; I’m new at all of this.  Don’t look at me as the wise old sage with all the wisdom.  I’m figuring this out as I’m going along.  

So anyway, once I realize the abandonment is only perceived, I’m able to get hold of things quickly, but I do find myself apologizing more and more these days.  Hey, at least I recognize that my behavior is wrong.  

Now… When the abandonment is real, when the relationship really is over, I’m much, much worse.  

BRUCE: “Fine then.  You don’t love me, and that’s because I’m unlovable.”

JUSTINE: “You’re not unlovable, Bruce.  I care about you a lot.  I just can’t be in a relationship right now.”

BRUCE: “That’s OK.  I understand.  I can’t be in this world right now.  I love you and I’m sorry for what I’m about to do.  Goodbye.”

And that, boys and girls, is where the booze and pills start going down the old gullet.  And that’s where I’m gonna leave (but not abandon) you for this time.

It’s an old writer’s trick.  The cliffhanger.  Always leave them wanting more.

Your brother in arms,

Bruce

Read more from Bruce Anderson here: How I Became the Freak in the Corner

(A page that tells his story from the beginning and has links to several of his articles)