Having to Win: Combative Thinking and Character Disturbance

Right from the first minute the disordered character thinks someone is asking something from them, they start planning how they will resist.

This post continues our series on the distorted thinking patterns displayed by disordered or disturbed characters. (For earlier posts in this series, see for example “Egocentric Thinking Patterns of Disturbed Characters” and “Possessive Thinking and the Disturbed Character”.)

Disordered characters, most especially the aggressive personalities, tend to view the world as a combat stage. They see most situations as a contest they have to win. They expend a lot of mental energy thinking about the battles they want to wage and stances they want to take against the demands of the world. Right from the first minute they think someone is asking something from them, they start planning how they will resist acceding to those expectations. They’re always thinking about how they will resist and can’t entertain the idea of backing down, conceding, or giving ground, even when it would be in their long-term best interest to do so.

Habitual combative thinking is what primarily leads to the unnecessarily hostile, confrontational, and defiant attitudes that underlie antisocial conduct. The undisciplined, destructive fighters among us are who they are because of how they think about life and the world around them. Determined to win, and finding no value in concession, they end up resisting all efforts to socialize (i.e., civilize) them.

One of the ways I advise people to deal with this mindset is to be constantly on the lookout for win-win scenarios. Because they see life as a contest and always have winning on their minds, finding a way to give them some of what they want as a fair exchange for securing something you want can be a helpful strategy and makes living or dealing with them a lot easier. It should be said, however, that no disordered character has ever matured into a more pro-social being until they have dealt directly with and overcome their penchant for thinking too combatively.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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