“Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: Levels of Awareness” Comments, Page 1

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9 Comments (3 Discussion Threads) on “Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: Levels of Awareness”

  1. I don’t see how something can be both automatic and fully aware.

    Are you going to explore this further in the coming articles.

    I think “I don’t know” is often a cop out by people. Not accepting it can also snap people out of an emotional funk and into thinking, which can help.

    1. I believe he is saying that being automatic and conscience ;is the ability to respond at an instant without contemplation. They are fully aware of what they’re saying and doing at an instant., manipulating without delay.

  2. I see it the automatic and the awareness at the same time.
    Its like many things in life if it has worked you do it again automatically. It can be both positive and negative as well.
    I agree that I don’t know can mean a multitude of things. And also with Evans comment that it can be a “cop out’ a practise of avoidance.
    It’s definately an interesting subject. Though many times it can reflect the truth and possibliltity of new reflection as well.

  3. I would be curious to know the approach Dr Simon is taking to get those answers. “I don’t know” is my PA husband’s most commonly used phrase. If I press him I get hostility, if I suggest and answer he is combative. One of my new responses is one borrowed from Dr Phil (ha ha)”If you DID know, what would it be?” Surprisingly I do get honest answers from this response (at times). My reasoning for this is that he sees it as a new game of sorts and is taken off the offensive.
    For my husband I feel this phrase is used to seal his level of commitment to any issue (i.e there is no commitment). After reading Dr Simon’s possible explanations, I fully agree with his interpretations. Regardless, I think that this simple phrase holds a wealth of information as Dr Simon implies.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Valerie. My approach is simple but not easy. I don’t “play games” and give the manipulator a way to save face and a reason to be less combative. Rather, I anticipate that once I’ve not been swayed by the first tactic (“I don’t know”), I’ll face a barrage of other tactics (including the display of anger or hostility). I respond to each tactic slightly differently but overall in a similar way in the sense that I always want to send the message that I am not being swayed. When the manipulator senses that there is no way I’ll be successfully manipulated by the tactics, they’ll inevitably try the truth and then plead for understanding, often feigning regret and contrition as a way to evoke sympathy and make one last stab at impression management.

      So, the strategy is simple. Recognize that the disordered character will try ANYTHING to avoid responsibility and save face. Don’t accept any of it. Eventually, you become a force with which to be contended and the game-playing stops.

      With regard to the “automatic” vs. unconscious debate, Diane is absolutely correct. If strategies have proven to work for someone, they can use them often and “automatically.” That doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. They do it precisely because they know it generally works. And if they’ve developed their skill sufficiently, they don’t have to think about every little move they’re making at the time they engage in the behavior. As a result of years of “practice” and proven results, it comes naturally or “automatically.”

      If you were to ask Tiger Woods why he shifts weight from one leg to another when he swings the golf club, he would not answer “I don’t know.” He knows very well that he does it because that part of overall motion of swinging increases his chances of hitting the ball well. Yet, after years of rehearsal, he doesn’t necessarily contemplate every single shift and muscle movement when he swings. And believe me, I’ve seen him swing. He’s not unconscious when he does it.

  4. I am so glad to see character disorders discussed without making excuses for the people who have them! It makes me crazy when I read that a person “suffers from” narcissism, for example. I don’t think these people do suffer. It’s those of us who have to deal with them who do!

    1. Aptly put, Molly. There are actually some personality conditions that are distressing to the person who has them (professionals call this “ego-dystonia”) such as an avoidant personality who hates the fact that they simply can’t engage others without fear and apprehension yet also can’t seem to help it. But most other personality and especially character impairments reflect styles that are “comfortable” to the person who has them, while extremely “uncomfortable” and offensive to all those around them.

      It’s also unfortunate that whenever we slap the “disorder” label on someone there’s a presumption by many that the person “afflicted” is necessarily “suffering” from something over which they have no conscious control.

  5. I dated a person who would always use I don’t know when they wanted to avoid seriousness. However, initially, I was told that I was seen as the one, and within the first year. The second year turned into a confusing blur with I don’t knows increasing and as a reason for most questions. Something serious or making plans turned into uncertainty and missed opportunities because of I don’t know – avoidance. Finally, after years, missing pieces, and burn out on my end, I ended it. As the person felt baggered I became a parent to a child and it was my fault they felt this way. They began lying when they would get stumped and unable to be honest about the true reason or answer. When caught it was my fault. So, I found a few problems – gas lighting and avoidance.

  6. Really enlightening article! I have been told by some friends that I’m a master manipulator who is needy, wants attention and validation, and use my energy to play with men while believing they’ve duped me / backstabbed me. However, I believe I’m innocent and naive and a good person. Am I taking your ‘feigning innocence’ tactic? How do I know if I’m neurotic, personality disorder, or covert narcissist?

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