The Mistrustful Thinking of Disturbed Characters

Disordered characters tend to think that everybody else is as dishonest as they frequently are. So, they often tell themselves that they should do their best to outwit others before others have a chance to outwit them.

I’ve been posting on several of the erroneous ways of thinking that disturbed characters engage in. These distorted thinking patterns directly contribute to the kinds of problems that commonly crop up in their interpersonal relations. Here are just a few examples of the many types of erroneous thinking which I’ve described in a cognitive behavioral context:

Another erroneous way of thinking common to disturbed characters can be called “mistrustful thinking.”

Persons with disturbances of character have a poor concept of how to earn the trust of others or judge the trustworthiness of others. The eminent researcher Stanton Samenow notes that they have “no concept of trust” because they neither understand what trust is nor how a person goes about the task of developing trust in interpersonal relationships.

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Disordered characters tend to think that everybody else is as dishonest as they frequently are. So, they often tell themselves that they should do their best to outwit others before others have a chance to outwit them. When others do in fact make an insignificant error or innocently misspeak, the disturbed character will frame the event as a deliberate and outright lie. Yet when the disturbed character lies — even when he does so egregiously and with deliberate malice — he thinks little of it, telling himself that everybody else does the same kind of thing.

Disturbed characters also have no idea about how to earn trust. They think that they shouldn’t have to consistently and repeatedly demonstrate their willingness to tell the truth, to display a real commitment to principle, and to accept other people’s desire to hold them accountable. Rather, they think that if they tell the truth once, others should believe them implicitly and always. Yet, if someone else does or says even the slightest thing that doesn’t ring true for them even one time, they’ll mistrust them forever.

Mistrustful thinking leads disturbed characters to frequently misinterpret the motivations of others. They might frame even the most innocent of actions as an example of malicious conduct. They might even use their perceptions of malevolent intent as a justification for directing harm toward others. Over time, mistrustful thinking leads the disturbed character to develop attitudes of guardedness, suspiciousness, and caginess.

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