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What Is a Personality Disordered Individual (PDI)?
As in all of medicine, psychiatry has its groups of diagnoses that define certain emotional problems that people experience. Among these diagnoses are problems called personality disorders.
A personality disordered individual or PDI has a deeply engrained maladaptive and inflexible behavioral style that firms up around late adolescence and continues throughout adulthood. This behavior is termed a disorder because it deviates from what we, as a society, consider to be normal.
'Normal' can have many definitions. We all have our own particular and unique personality traits that make us different from other people. For the most part, we all try to cooperate with each other, bend a little when it is required, and adapt in society. Personality disordered individuals (PDIs) do not. What distinguishes them from non-PDIs is their unwavering devotion to themselves . . . at our expense. PDIs are selfish users who do not change, regardless of who they are with or what the situation is.
Personality problems appear to arise from times that go awry in our mental development. For example, the terrible twos is a normal phase of development in which a child learns how to be assertive ('It's mine.'). Then, as a three-year-old, the child learns to become more sociable and to share. With personality disorders, the theory is that some people, for one reason or another, get stuck in a behavioral stage that carries over into adult life. Thus, PDIs are stranded in a childhood state of mental development and never grow out of it. As adults, they continue trying to elicit responses from people around them that replicate the responses they received in their childhood and teens.
While their behavior can be curious to us for a time, generally any mature adult relationship with a PDI is impossible. Do you know anyone whose behavior reminds you of a two-year-old's? They are stubborn and dig in their heels. They are sullen, and they brood and pout and are contrary. Rarely is it fun dealing with a two-year-old in a grown-up's body.
The PDI has a behavioral disorder because he or she does not adapt, is not flexible, and behaves in a way that says, 'It's all about me.' PDIs, although some might at first not seem so, are self-centered and very manipulative. They use others for their own ends and rarely have empathy or concern for other people. Relationships with them (whether in a professional, business, or personal area, whether short- or long-term) are always difficult. They cause problems and misery wherever they go, which is an immediate indicator of disorder, given that most people want to avoid causing problems.
Numerous factors shape our personalities as we develop. First, there is the hereditary factor: the nervous system with which we are born. Our nervous system determines how we sense our world, whether we filter things out or become overstimulated by them. Next comes our environment. Is it kind, gentle, and giving, or rough, demanding, and cruel?
As we grow both mentally and physically, we pass through stages in which we are supposed to learn new ways of adapting to life so that when we reach adulthood we are prepared to function in a mature way. In this context, 'mature' means having the ability to cope with life with minimal stress and to be happy.
Our personalityour temperament, our style, our beliefs, our morals, and our philosophy of lifedefines who we are. Our personality contributes to what we believe about life and people, and how each day we behave toward others and ourselves. How you behave comes from what you believe inside and defines who you are.
Since PDIs are basically still children in their mental development, they are afraid of 'normal' adult relationshipswith their ups and downs, the possibility of being hurt, and being asked to give, compromise, or share. They just do not have the mental equipment for it. Rather than participate in that experience, PDIs need to keep you under their control in a relationship that is solely on their terms. They see you in a certain light that is never good. PDIs treat you badly, and when you express some dissatisfaction, they see it as criticism and as your being hurtful, not constructive. Since people hurt (and cannot be trusted), PDIs then justify their continued aberrant behavior because of their self-centered belief that the world (you and I) is there for their own singular use.
Although psychiatrists presently identify a total of ten distinct and unique personality disorders, this book concentrates primarily on the five we most frequently encounter and who cause the most misery for us because of their very intrusive behaviors.
While it is no longer considered a distinct personality disorder, I have included in this list the passive-aggressive personality disorder because people with this behavior appear so frequently in our daily lives and can be so controlling.
These personality problems are distinguished by how each PDI relates to and controls people. In short, each is defined by the particular style the PDI uses to manipulate you. Most PDIs need to have you constantly close to them in their need to control you. These particular PDIs are very social and dramatic people who need to control others and thus must have that interaction.
There are two categories of PDIs separated by their behavioral styles. In the first category are the blamers, who are PDIs who provoke and control you with guilt. These people have passive-aggressive personality disorder. They are negative and attempt to push the blame for their problems on everyone else. This is Mr. Negativethe two-year-old in a grown-up's body.
The second category contains the dramatic and erratic PDIs who overwhelm and control you with the power of their personality. In this group of four, we find:
• The seductress, who is emotional and attention-seeking. This is the histrionic PDI.
• The smooth operator, who charms, beguiles, and captivates you, but who is actually quite cold inside. This PDI displays the antisocial personality disorder.
• The intense, demanding, extreme, and unstable PDI, who has the borderline personality disorder. Think Fatal Attraction.
• The egotistic and pompous, who exist to be adored and admired. These characteristics describe the narcissistic personality disorder.
Remember PDIs are rigid and inflexible in their behavior. They believe that you adapt to them. They do not adapt to you.
How a PDI Behaves
PDIs' behaviors can be charming, infuriating, alluring, endearing, stimulating, awe-inspiring, loathsome, entrancing, avoidable, strange, perplexing, a curiosity, or a pain in the neck. They play a gamut of roles to pique your interest and seduce you into their worldthe world of 'me.' With several of the specific personality disorders, a pleasant and stimulating time with the PDI can occur . . . before the misery begins. PDIs are certainly challenging and high-maintenance. They are always memorable.
PDIs have their own agenda of what they need psychologicallyfor example, attention, domination, adoration, control, avoidance, dependencydepending on the period of emotional maturation in which they stalled. They have developed a time-tested way to behave, designed to suck you into dealing with them so they can get the attention they feel they need. They are often successfulsince they are such good manipulatorsin getting what they feel they need, e.g., attention from you or power over you. The PDI throws out the line and sees what new victim bites.
For example, an individual with the histrionic personality disorder goes fishing with her seductiveness as the lure while feigning neediness so a white knight will help her. The person with passive-aggressive personality disorder baits others with guilt and uses that to manipulate.
In a situation involving interaction with a professional, the PDI's goal can move beyond attention or power to something more concrete, such as medication from a doctor, extrication from legal matters from a lawyer, or permission from a social worker to do some desired action. Whatever they are looking to get from you, PDI's will still use their basic exploitative behaviors to get to their ends.
In business, PDIs always behave for their own personal ends and will use others only for their own advancement. PDIs bring the most misery to personal relationships. In these situations, PDIs can be incredibly selfish, self-centered, and demanding.
You can identify PDIs because they behave repeatedly in a way to provoke you in some manner (a pleasant or not-so-pleasant one) and get a rise out of you. They will use your reaction to manipulate you.
How PDIs Affect You
When we interact with each other, we may feel various emotions. We might feel pleased if we get our way with something or frustrated if we do not. We might feel good in being praised. We might be provocative in trying to elicit a response. We may do something in anger because another person hurt us. We all vary in our behaviors and generally work at achieving harmony and fairness with each other.
In contrast, the PDI's manipulative behavior is not confined to specific instances. PDIs always have some ulterior motive in mind, with their desired end being to provoke you (for example, by inspiring guilt, admiration, or sexual arousal), and then to use this feeling against you. PDIs at first behave by fishing to see what feeling they can elicit from you and then using it against you.
The important and frequently hard part is to recognize their behavior and to prevent getting ensnared in their behavioral style. Once we are hooked, the misery begins and does not change.
A license plate holder reads, 'I drive this way to piss you off.' What kind of feeling does this simple, short sentence proclaimed on the frame of someone's license plate bring out in you? Anger? What a jerk, maybe. It is provocative, is it not? More to the point, this license plate offers just the kind of action that a person with passive-aggressive personality disorder would do. Here is what basically happens:
• He takes some action, such as cutting you off while driving.
• You respond, asking him if he knew what he was doing. Perhaps you swear, silently fume, or accept your powerless fate . . . but the guy still irked you.
• He responds, asking why you're so sensitiveperhaps giving you a hand gesture or deliberately driving badly, yet still getting away with his behavior.
• You feel badmaybe angry or guilty for having said or thought something.
This simple little scenario shows how the PDI works to get a rise out of you. Even though the encounter is short, it still leaves us feeling bad, used, and manipulated. The more enduring situations leave us miserable.
By the time they've reached adulthood, PDIs have been acting in their particular way for a long time and have typically become very good at what they do. Each specific type of PDI works to evoke one particular feeling in you (e.g., guilt, lust, anger) and to do it consistently. Ever walk away from a conversation with someone and think, Whenever I talk with him, I come away feeling guilty about something, or What does that guy do to always get me angry? The level of interaction does not change. However, the PDI has a vast portfolio of ways to get at you. The PDI fisherman or -woman has many lures. He or she will get a rise out of you.
The PDI's behavior is focused on provoking a rise out of you that is then used to control you.
How You Get Trapped and Manipulated by a PDI's Behavior The PDI's crafty behavior traps and manipulates you. You get suckered. Nobody ever feels good when that happens. Hopefully, we let go of the temporary situations, although they do not contribute to having a good day. The more recurring miserable situations in our daily lives are the ones that certainly cause the most duress.
Why does a PDI get a reaction from you? Because you are human. How do you get trapped? Because you are human.
PDIs thrive on the reactions of non–personality-disordered normal human beings who respond to provocative words and behaviors. PDIs expect some recognition or some validation of what they are saying. Normal human beings do not expect their words to be turned back on them as PDIs do. We feel frustrated, angry, and confused; we might even back off and think that we are at fault. Normal human beings also expect, with further discussion, to work the situation out and find some middle ground. This never happens with a PDI.
PDIs always turn things back on you and keep you confused or angry, or whatever feeling they use to manipulate. If you think you know a PDI, think about it. You never get a sense of being heard with that person, nor do you ever have a sense of validation for what you are feeling. It is always their way. (If you do think you are being heard, they are only playing you.)
A PDI's behavior traps us in one of two main ways: either we react by giving in to the PDI's way of seeing thingsleading to our feeling powerlessor we react against the PDI by continuing to fight to be heardwhich will never happen, so we still feel frustrated and powerless. Throughout this book, we identify these reactions as the red-flag feelings described with each specific personality disorder. We should keep in mind throughout that our sense of powerless results in misery time and time again.
In discussing the specific personality disorders, you'll learn that some PDIs manipulate with personal charm, daring deeds done to impress, sexual intimations, or a neediness designed to bring out parenting or the rescuer in us. At first, we may be easily confounded by these reactions because the feeling evoked is not disagreeable but rather pleasant. But the pleasant feeling quickly gives way to the PDI's purpose, which is using you. Essentially, you are just more pleasantly trapped into a state of misery.
Remember PDIs trap you by using your normal human behavior and responses against you. You expect one response, and they surprise you with another.
Why You Stay Trapped If I am so miserable, why would I stay trapped in such a situation?
Think of how a salesperson who wants you to buy something keeps you coming back to a store. They do it with the lure, the promise, and the hook. Being human, we tend to fall for these things.
PDIs use the emotional hook. If we are angry with them, they keep us coming back for satisfaction. If they succeed in making us feel guilty, they have us coming back for absolution. If we think they need us, we keep coming back to help. If they promise great things (money, advancement), we keep coming back to get them.
This type of relationship takes place in all aspects of life. A professional might be complimented into bending rules; a businessperson entranced by promises of advancement doesn't comprehend or overlooks how much he or she is used; a personal relationship might be controlled by guilt. We stay trapped because we humanly believe there is something beyond what is actually happening. We believe that other humans do not act this way and that 'things can be worked out.' We refuse to accept that another person may be using us, or we blame ourselves because things are not going better. We think, It must be me. Maybe if I work it a little more. . . . In a professional or business setting, we may think we are too smart to be used. We stay trapped because we fail to accept that PDIs use people, plain and simple. We can only accept blame if we allow it to continue.
Remember PDIs want to keep you confused and on the ropes indefinitely. By doing this, they can keep using you forever.
How to Recognize A PDI So You Will Not Get Trapped
As you should see by now, being aware of your emotional response to the PDI is crucial. The essential but frequently difficult thing is to identify your feelings when you are with the PDI. Once you see how the PDI operates and how you feel, you can prevent yourself from becoming ensnared in the PDI's trap and feeling the recurring unpleasantness that takes place. Once we are hooked, the misery goes on forever. By keeping you off balance, the PDI seeks to control and manipulate you for his or her own ends. The PDI's main goal is to get and keep you on the defensive or emotionally control you in some way to use you.
First, you need to recognize the PDI by seeing his or her pattern of behavior as well as your own repeated responses. Frequently, identifying your own pattern is difficult because you have been doing it for so long. It is hard (and humbling) to step back and say, 'How could I have been so dumb for so long?' What you need is a better perspective, to view the PDI's behavior as objectively as possible. What does he or she do to get you going? What are the mannerisms? What does he or she say? What is he or she implying? How does he or she dress? Most important, how does he or she try to make you feel?
Does the PDI praise, promise, or try to impress you? Does the PDI try to intimidate or challenge you? Is she seductive, or is she needy? Is he strange, and does he put you off but somehow still engage you?
Once you identify the recurring pattern, you must become an objective observer rather than a participant. You must begin to view the interaction like watching a movie. You must learn to watch the moves of the PDI, how he or she adapts and changes if you do not at first respond as he or she wishes. Initially, you will find yourself able to do this, but you may still succumb. Remember, the PDI is an expert at this, while you're just learning.
Eventually, you will become more adept at recognizing the behavior, and you will stop feeling so used or manipulated. You will feel more in control of the situation, more confident, and ultimately less miserable.
Remember The first and most important guide in dealing with a PDI is to monitor your feelings and responses.
The Prime Things to Remember When Dealing with PDIs
PDIs have their own agenda of emotional needs that come first with them. Whether you think you know this agenda or not, you must remember that, whatever you do, you can never meet the PDI's psychological needs, even if you think you understand him or her. If you are a professional, you may think you have the upper hand since they are coming to see you for your wisdom. Forget it! In business, you might think that you can handle a PDI by talking about the company, the people, even power and prestige. Forget it! PDIs have their own agenda.
Especially in personal relationships, if you believe you can help or change them, you are doomed. The needs of PDIs are so profound that no mortal could ever hope to fulfill them . . . or even hope to help them understand their behavior. A PDI may in some cases appear to be craving closeness and understanding, but, in truth, that is the furthest thing from the PDI's mind. PDIs have expectations like 'Never criticize me,' 'Always be there,' 'Give me all of your attention,' 'Take all my hurt away,' 'Don't get close,' 'You are here to serve only me,' and 'Always treat me as extra special.'
These expectations are so unrealistic that anyone in any form of a relationship with a PDI is condemned to failure. If you try to help, you will never live up to their expectations, no matter what you do. If you confront them, you become hurtful, a betrayer who cannot be trusted. Either way, if you try to tolerate them or if you confront them with their unrealistic demands, you are frustrated and miserable. You think you can reason with them or that you can work things out. You might even get angry and demand to be heard, but this will never happen.
Remember You will not be able to help or change a PDI's behavior, but you can certainly change yours.
As you read through this book, you will identify with various personality traits described in the disorders. We all grow up with some of these traits. The big difference is that most of us do not find ourselves in difficulties because of this behavior. We recognize it as a way we do not want to be, try to change it, and hopefully apologize to anyone we may have bothered. We are not stuck in a persisting, immature way of behaving, but PDIs are. PDIs do things in a certain way, with their behavior guaranteed to elicit a definite, repeated emotional response from us. They then use this response to manipulate us.
Having a sense of control over our own lives is extremely important in dealing with PDIs. When we are manipulated and our sense of control is wrested away from us repeatedly, we become distraught, confused, demoralized, depressed . . . and miserable.
The Basics About PDIs
When you find yourself in or facing a relationship with a PDI, you must keep the following facts in mind:
• They do not change. They have a rigid and enduring way of behaving that unerringly gets them into difficulties over and over again. Ironically, others' reactions to their behavior only reinforce the behavior.
• They will repeatedly try to provoke you (in a good or bad way). They seek to bring out a particular emotion that they can then use against you.
• They trap you by using your feelings against you.
• They always blame others. You respond in a normal way, and quickly you are being manipulated. Unfortunately, since they do not see things as most of us do, PDIs do not perceive the problem as their own and invariably blame others. If confronted with troublesome behaviorwhether at work, seeking professional help, or at home or with othersPDIs do not try to understand what they are doing and change, but, in fact, their behavior usually worsens.
• They will fool you. A person with a personality disorder can still be successful in terms of notoriety, success, money, or employment. PDIs can be accomplished businesspeople, entrepreneurs, movie stars, superheroes, or highly respected individuals. Having a personality disorder simply means that they are difficult to live and deal with in terms of how they behave with us common folk. They make us miserable. They can string you along for years while you kid yourself that they are trying . . . but things never improve.
• You cannot change them. As we discuss through this book how to deal with PDIs, keep in mind that their habits developed far back in their lives and are fixed. If a PDI is fairly bright, he or she may smarten up. Perhaps when they see that they are neither controlling people nor winning friends and influencing people by one way of behaving, they adapt. The PDI may appear to change, but what really is happening is that he or she is only outwardly making some adjustments. PDIs can shift gears to another method of manipulation and control. Their goal is still to get what they need, and it has nothing to do with you or understanding your side. If you think they are changing, think again.
• They are never wrong. They are in denial about any problems they may have. They always have excuses, never saying they are sorry, and their behavior worsens when they are confronted with it. In a PDI's mind, you are expected to change. You are to be controlled, not them.
• They are selfish and self-centered. It is all about them.
What You Can Do
Assess how the person makes you feel each time you deal with the PDI. You may feel guilty, bedazzled, angry, in awe, helpless, frustrated, inadequate, defensive, or wanting to rescue the poor thing (particularly true for professionals). That feeling you repeatedly experience is the key to identifying the problem and will help you immensely in deciding your moves.
Check out your misery level. Look at how your feelings make you respond to the PDI's behavior. Your responses are likely to be well intentioned, but they do not seem to work because of the PDI's manipulating ways and your responses being part of the PDI's plan, not yours.
The most important point to bear in mind as you deal with a PDI is as follows: If it does not work, do not keep doing it!
What Types of People Are Most Trapped by PDIs?
PDIs have ensnared every one of us at one time or another in our lives. They succeed at this because PDIs are very good at what they do: manipulating others.
They connive, lie, flatter, seduce, guiltify, sweet-talk, promise, or otherwise exploit us. After our experience with them, we are usually left saying to ourselves, 'I should've done this' or 'I should've said that,' because we did not come out of the encounter feeling good about what happened.
Since PDIs make us miserable, 'Why,' you may ask, 'do any of us stay in a relationship with them for any longer than we have to?' That is part of the shrewdness of PDIs. By their behavior, they trap us into believing that we are locked into a relationship and that we are helpless in thinking otherwise. As we are tricked, we also trick ourselves. We tragically con ourselves with many excuses.
In a professional setting, you might say, 'It's my job,' or 'I'm here to help (or advise or consult with) people with problems, that's why they come to me.' Or you might simply say to yourself, 'I can put up with this because the money is good.' Some misguided professionals see themselves as rescuers (see below in the categories of those who stay), whose role in life is to save others from their problems. Since PDIs never change, tolerating their misery-generating behavior becomes fruitless, frustrating, and foul, even if the money is good. Why try to continue to professionally help someone who does not listen or want to change?
In business, you might endure a degree of misery as you tell yourself that you are 'paying your dues.' For example, if you are a student, trainee, apprentice, or a business associate, or in some position where you will gain training, knowledge, prestige, or a 'golden' experience to put on your resumeand the misery is time-limitedthen it becomes 'acceptable' . . . as long as you are getting out at some future time. Here, there is a tradeoff. However, the other excuses'I can't find anything else,' 'He'll hurt me professionally if I leave,' 'The job gives me security,' 'Where will I go?' or 'You can't beat the money'are all groundless reasons to maintain a wretched existence.
In our personal lives, why we continue to invest ourselves in losing relationships that make us miserable is like trying to answer why people fall in love. Wise people have written myriads of sage words and singers have sung countless songs about heartache, yet the mystery endures of why we stay in an unhappy relationship.
Having written that, I shall attempt to give you some reasons that someone who would be considered a rational, sensible, and caring person continues to suffer in professional, business, or personal relationships that daily cause them woe.
We all have some of the following traits, more or less. The danger is when these traits so influence our behavior that we are more doomed to get into a miserable state and to stay there.
These are the various categories of individuals who are more prone to be trapped and to allow themselves to stay in miserable situations with PDIs:
The Caring Person
This person has had a fairly healthy upbringing where people treated each other with love and respect. These types of people have had the experience of working things out in relationships. In growing up, they have seen conflicts between their parents, but have also seen the problems resolved with fairness and the desire to make things right. As they grew up, they have had their own issues with brothers, sisters, friends, and lovers, and have learned that talking things out can solve interpersonal issues. They have seen that a relationship needs constant work from both parties. From his or her life experience, this type of person has come to expect a give-and-take in a relationship where compromise is sometimes necessary. When this does not happen (for example, because the other party has a personality disorder), the caring person is bewildered and confused. Because these types of individuals are emotionally strong and have had healthy relationships with others, this type of experience initially stymies them. They find it perplexing that another person who professes to love them (or who wants to help or wants to work cohesively) continues to make them miserable and behave opposite to what a healthy relationship should be. He or she wonders, What's going on here? Things aren't going like they usually do for me in relationships. Am I missing something? Since these types of people are caring and concerned, they try harder to make things work out. They are accustomed to solving these problems and begin to blame themselves if problems persist.
However, because these people are sensible and confident, they do not stay too long in the relationship. Professionals treating, counseling, or advising a PDI often terminate with uncooperative clients; people in business transfer to another department, make a move within the company, or find another job.
These individuals usually come to grips with the fact that they have tried their best to make the relationship work. Sometimes, it may take them a few months or even a few years, but they eventually resolve the self-blame and go on with their lives. Sometimes, they seek short-term counseling to confirm their instincts that it is not always two parties who cause a relationship to founder. Relationships with PDIs always go downhill with the PDI never taking any blame.
The rescuer is a variant of the caring person, but the rescuer takes the relationship to another level. Rescuers are attracted to needy persons, people who appear to have various difficulties that beckon to someone to help out. Rescuers are problem-solvers and fancy themselves as being the ones who will champion the needy with whatever troubles they may have. Another role for the rescuer is the white knight or the nurse. They are savior or caretaker types who will make all the bad stuff go away. Rescuers frequently were the responsible person in their family and are carrying on this family role into adulthood.
When they were growing up, some unhappy event in their family life may have occurredlike a parent's suicide, a sibling dying, or chronic illness in a loved onebut it was something over which they, as a child, had no control. Now as adults they see themselves as trying to make things right. In their rescuing roles, these individuals try to undo the powerlessness and unhappiness they experienced as children.
Many advisory or therapeutic professionals fall into this category. They have a particular expertise and want to help others out while they make a living.
Unfortunately, some PDIs use the 'I'm lost and needy' ploy to entice you and then exploit your need to help. (See the sections later in this book on histrionic and borderline personality disorders.)
PDIs can repeatedly convey a profound illusion of needing (when actually they are controlling) you and recurrently entrap you and perpetuate the relationship, whatever type it may beprofessional, business, or personal.
If you as the rescuer do not catch on early in the relationship that you cannot be responsible for another person's happiness or success, you will stay on with some fantasy (kindled by the PDI) that you will make things better. You must keep a perspective of what you can and cannot do. If you do not, PDIs will control and use you. Since they really do not want anyone rescuing them, you will just stay frustrated and wretched.
The Guilty One
If anything is amiss, these folks blame themselves first. Since PDIs accept no blame for their actions, the guilty person is the perfect individual for the PDI to trap and exploit (see later sections on passive-aggressive and compulsive personality disorders). Guilty people grew up in an environment where their parents and others used guilt as a potent manipulating force. One of the prominent ways the family operated was to never to take responsibility for something going wrong and to guiltify something or someone else for their troubles.
As guilty ones grew up, they would hear things like 'I got fired because the boss was jealous of me (not because I was lazy),' or 'If you didn't nag me so much, maybe I wouldn't have to drink.' In these families, it was very easy to blame the child for the woes of the parent(s), with the child hearing things like, 'You know it's your fault that I'm unhappy. I never wanted you in the first place.' Think about being a guileless and trusting child and hearing this over and over. The more sensitive the child is, the more devastating and influencing these statements are.
Not surprisingly, guilty people grow up with a sense that something wrong is their fault. Later in life, they invariably fall into a relationship with someone like a PDI, who expertly uses the guilt to keep this person under his or her thumb. Because these individuals have been programmed into believing they are always to blame, they are doomed to stay in this type of relationship indefinitely, unless, at some point, the light bulb goes on in their heads and they begin to think differently.
You might think that this type of person could meet someone nice who tries to compliment them and focus on the good points. Unfortunately, this type of relationship does not last long, because the forever-guilty person thinks one of two things: either 'I know I'm no good, so this person is lying to me to use me,' or 'This person really doesn't know me. I don't deserve someone this nice.'
These people are somewhat like the guilty person, only they focus less on their guilt (although it is there) and more on doing for others. These are the people-pleasers. Givers stuff their own needs and wants and see their role as being a help to others. They do not presume to be able to rescue. They are simply there to make others' lives better. Givers never raise their voices, nor do they speak out for themselves or their needs. They were taught the 'proper' way to act, which excludes being assertive and thinking about oneself. That would be selfish. No self-respecting PDI could turn away this type of person, so ripe for exploitation (see later sections on the passive-aggressive and antisocial personality disorders). Givers not infrequently have much anger held deep inside them, for having to put their wishes aside for so long. However, since anger is not 'proper,' they can never deal with it. This is another ideal situation for PDIs, who can avoid any confrontation for their outrageous behaviors.
The Abused Person
Verbal bullying and threats ('Keep that up and I'll take you out into the swamp and leave you alone to die'), sexual abuse ('If you tell anyone about this, I'll hurt you'), or physical intimidation or abuse ('If you do that again, I'll beat you') filled many maltreated individuals' family lives.
Abused people are responsible, compliant, cooperative, nonconfrontational, passive, avoidant, and pleasant (at least on the outside). They believe, 'Don't do anything, and nothing will happen to you. Go with the flow (because you may be hurt some way if you don't).'
PDIs who can bully or intimidate (see later sections on narcissistic, antisocial, and passive-aggressive personality disorders) easily manipulate abused people. Mistreated individuals fall into a thought pattern that abuse is a way of life in relationships with others. They have adopted the attitude that nothing really works to change things, so they passively accept their plight. They go through life accepting whatever is given them. They believe that 'I am powerless to do much about anything.' Their goal each day is to minimize how much abuse they receive rather than to see abuse as inappropriate and unacceptable. As a result, they unwittingly allow misery and abusive people into their lives.
The Insecure Person
Insecure people can fall into all of the above categories, but they may not have had significant mistreatment in one form or another as they grew up. These are the average people among us who are not too confident and not too assertive. Insecure individuals lack firm convictions about themselves and their rights. They may not be too self-reliant or independent, and they rely on others for advice and direction. PDIs thrive on the insecure. They play on the lack of confidence and/or they promise security.
Women may suffer from the 'I need someone to lean on' syndrome, or worse, the 'What would happen to me if someone isn't around' syndrome (all PDIs trap these people). Self-doubting men fall prey more to the narcissistic personality individual who exploits feelings of inadequacy.
Insecure people fall into the trap of believing that they cannot exist by themselves and really need a relationship. No matter how miserable they are, they keep thinking, 'At least I'm not alone.' It is not difficult to predict that this type of man or woman can also get into a relationship where they feel manipulated and used, but, because of their fears and insecurities, they see no way out. If they are sensitive to the judgment of others ('What will my family think?'), they are further stuck.
A typical person who fits this mold is one who's middle-aged or older. They feel very insecure in extricating themselves from an abysmal relationship that has been part of their lives for years. At an older age, they wonder, 'What can I do? Where will I go?' They have been in the relationship so long that there appears to be no other alternatives but to stay and be stuck.
Why do human beings continue to endure miserable relationships? PDIs use our insecurities, doubts, vanities, fantasies, frustrations, or whatever else they see as a hook to exploit us and keep us around (or not around, in some cases where the PDI wants us at a distance). Those who tolerate a relationship in which they are constantly manipulated have a tremendously off-base concept of what a relationship should be. Relationships in any sphere of lifeprofessional, personal, or business-relatedshould be based on mutual respect, compromise, and cooperation, not on exploitation, manipulation, self-concern, and blamelessness, which occur with a PDI.
The goal of this book is to help you recognize how PDIs trap you into a miserable situation and show you what you can do about it. Once you are more empowered by a better perspective and use the tools in this book to deal with the PDI, you will have a more solid understanding of what a relationship should be. You will be less likely to be used . . . and less likely to be miserable.
Sadly, we can be more secure (but not happy) in denying, avoiding, rationalizing, or focusing on other things as causes for our misery than to face up to the real issues and make changes. Many times people will tell me they are confused about their problems. However, being confused often feels more comfortable than the anxiety that might result from attempting to change. It takes a great deal of courage and support to begin to look at one's own beliefs, to trust in others (who have a healthier view of life), and to begin to make changes.
Personality disordered individuals do not change.
The material that we have covered so far, which provides a foundation for our discussions of individual personality disorders, can be summarized as follows. In all aspects of life, professional, business, and personal:
• PDIs make you miserable.
• PDIs act in a way to get a reaction from you.
• PDIs use that reaction to trap you into dealing with them in a specific way (their way).
• PDIs never change, and they are never wrong.
• To begin to lessen your misery, you must identify how PDIs make you feel.
• You must change your reactions to the PDI to be happier.
©2007. Stan Kapuchinski M.D. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Say Goodbye to Your PDI : Recognize People Who Make You Miserable and Eliminate Them from Your Life – for Good!. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.