“Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: Contrasting Needs in Therapy” Comments, Page 1

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9 Comments (3 Discussion Threads) on “Neurosis vs. Character Disorder: Contrasting Needs in Therapy”

  1. Hi George

    As a person centred counsellor I don’t use the ‘neurotic’ or ‘character disordered’ categories. But I have certainly had clients who were totally aware of what they were doing and why they were doing it and decided to carry on doing it because it worked. These were behaviours that were destructive to them and others.

    I find though that there has always been another force in them which sensed that there was a better way of going about things. Otherwise they would not have been seeing me. It was a question of finding the cracks in the armour and strengthening that part of them that wanted to be free of the cycle.

    Often behind the knowledge of what someone is doing and why lies a whole depth of feeling that they just don’t want to go into. The block to change is there.

    1. That’s very insightful and lends a perspective I haven’t considered. My family has a deeply character-disordered member- who is an MD. He is malevolent and sadistic, paranoid and thin skinned, and is ruining our family

  2. Well, as I read this again, it sure makes more sense now, just why my exhusband could not have any anxiety over his actions. That is scary to consider. Most people wonder whether they have offended or said the right things in a given conversation. I never knew what he was thinking or feeling.

  3. Hi Dr GEORGE,
    I have a friend who other people consider a “womanizer”, is this considered to be a “caracter disorder” as well? He certainly is a “master mind” at manipulating and impressing women.

    1. Hi Lunna,

      It’s best to think of neurosis and character disturbance as poles of a continuum. Most people fall somewhere along that continuum and rarely at the extreme end. Thus, a person may have some degree of neurosis as well as some characteristics of deficient or disordered character. It’s the balance that makes a difference.

      With respect to the penchant of some for multiple and superficial sexual encounters or conquests as opposed to meaningful intimate relationships, generally a fair degree of character deficiency is at work here. The degree to which the encounters and the level of the manipulation involved represent a form of exploitation and abuse will depend upon the severity of the disturbance of character.

      All that said, it would be a stretch to say that any man who “has a way with women” likely has a disturbance of character.

  4. Hello!
    I am a seventeen year old female, and I go to a counselor and a psychiatrist for depression and OCD. I have found, after reading several of your articles, that while I try to be open to the suggestions of my counselor and parents, it’s very hard to do. I also recognize that I am relatively good at manipulating and lying for someone who has not been suggested to have a character disorder, and to be honest, it scares me quite a bit- to the point where I have started considering the fact that I might be a sociopath, or something similar. I’m extremely into psychology- how people work fascinates me to no end- and all the reading I’ve done on sociopathy and similar issues doesn’t sound exactly like me, but the things that do frighten me. I was wondering if you had any advice for how to get over my fears and/or convince myself to listen to the suggestions of others, even if I’m sure they won’t work. Thank you for listening!

    1. Hannah, while I can neither fairly assess nor give direct advice so remotely with respect to anyone’s particular circumstances, I can tell you that the question you ask is one of the main reasons I have long emphasized in my books Character Disturbance and In Sheep’s Clothing that character disturbance exists along a continuum of degree and intensity. You can find a couple of articles I’ve written on this blog that address this issue as well. Hopefully, digesting these materials will help you gain a better perspective on your situation.

    2. Find a psychiatrist who you are certain is more intelligent than you, and who has at least 20 years of experience. He or she could serve as the authority figure (in my opinion because I’ve been in your shoes ) you need. Also, after the acute questions about yourself and your character aren’t so new, don’t believe that you don’t need to’check in’ with this person every couple months

  5. I really get what you are posting here. I also like and recognise your description of people occupying a position on a continuum with character disturbance and neurosis.
    Maybe it is entirely possible that in highly disturbed personalities that have several parts that different parts can behave in line with a place on the continuum you describe?

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