“Understanding the Dysfunctional Tactics of Disturbed Characters” Comments, Page 1

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15 Comments (4 Discussion Threads) on “Understanding the Dysfunctional Tactics of Disturbed Characters”

  1. ok, I am officially on the fence. Does my ocpd dh suffer from anxiety and use various defense mechanisms to obtain relief from that anxiety or does he really do things on purpose as the above article states? The end result for me for years was victimization. Now with having more control over the relationship I am no longer a victim but I still observe subtle acting out that is very strange at times. I would still like to know if he is a disturbed character or one with an anxiety disorder. How can you tell the difference?

  2. Karen,

    I’ve made it a point to draw a careful distinction between an individual with a personality disorder versus a disturbance of character (you might want to see my prior posts on these subjects). Some professionals erroneously use the terms character and personality synonymously, thus confusing the picture. All that said, if a person truly has an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, then they are much more toward the “neurotic” as opposed to character disturbed side of the spectrum and do indeed experience high levels of anxiety which they attempt to mitigate with their o-c behaviors. One caveat: mental health diagnoses are not always mutually exclusive. So, a person can have o-c personality traits and have character issues, too. Such is the case with individuals who I describe in my book as being not only o-c but also covertly aggressive (i.e., use their purported dedication to details and the proper course as pretexts to wielding tyrannical power and control in their relationships. Individuals who are covertly aggressive are highly manipulative and have significant disturbance of character.

  3. Dr Gearge

    I am a layperson and found and read this and all related articles on the subject and found them excellent at understanding my Mum’s behaviour.

    It has really helped me understand my own reactions and learn not to be ‘played’ by the covert tactics she uses. My only problem I guess is that as stated in your article, these tactics work! She manages to get everyone else she knows to act exactly how she wants.

    As I am the exception to this rule, she has now started referring to me as ‘hard’ and ‘unfeeling’ and trying to turn family members against me……… I guess until everyone else in the world reads this article I am relatively on my own in my fight against my Mum’s behaviour!!!

    I have great comfort in not being manipulated further by this and understanding that guilt-tripping and blaming others are all part of her tactics and not a true reflection of my character.

    The real issue for me is how to deal with her in the future. Know ing she will always be playng this game and expecting me to fall into line will mean I always have a battle on my hands. If this were not my Mum I could walk away. I have to reassure myself that she chooses this behaviour, and that choice she has made has benefits, but also consequences in the fact that she has no meaningful relationship with her daughter. That must at some level be sad for her (as it is for me)

    I just wanted to say many thanks for the excellent information. I am sure it helps many professionals, but also know that it also helps regular people too!

    1. I just found this article and have a little bit of a hard time understanding it. I read through it rather quickly, but I am sure that this is what my Mother has. I’ve been manipulated by her over and over again. I have made a conscious choice not to have anymore contact with her as for she is very bad for my health. The stress and anxiety that she causes me is literally killing me. I’ve always said that she’s sucking the life out of me and asked many psychiatrists what could be wrong with her. You see, I’ve had to see a psychiatrist for years because of the manipulation and confusion that she’s put me through. Maybe you can write to me and help explain in laymans terms what exactly it is that I am dealing with and how I can overcome this problem before she dies. If she dies without ever speaking to her again, this will haunt me for the rest of my life and she will have won. Please return an email. I’d really appreciate it. If not, that’s okay too.

      Thank you


    2. This is sooo me!!! My husband is the same and its awful.. he does the same thing to me. Im cold, mean, etc… But hes manipulative in every area imagineable .

  4. Thank you so much for your articles on this subject. I have been dealing with this exact problem with an in-law. Up til now, I spent countless hours trying to “figure her out”, feeling guilty, not wanting to harm the relationship due to my son. Now, I realize how harmful all this is to me. You have provided such relief. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Toni. The validation always feels good and I always use the information in such comments to enhance my continuing work. :)

  5. Thank you for sharing this information. I thought I was going crazy. When I finally broke up with my husband of 12 years, he relapsed with meth (speed). I did not know him back in those years, so his behavior on meth. is absolutely nuts. How do character disorders act when they are high? He is showing my selfishness, impulsivity and “don’t care about anything” attitude than I have ever seen his act like. I had to get a restainging order out on him and jail him twice. Now he’s clean & sober and said that the drugs made him turn into a different person. (He left the message on my phone) I have since changed my phone number. Please clarify.


    1. Hi, Kathy.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Once in the throes of a major addiction, people can and do change aspects of their personality (usually for the worse). So there is always SOME truth to their excuse-making about their behavior. HOWEVER, the choice to try illegal drugs in the first place, to jeopardize a relationship in favor of selfish desires, to take risks that are well known, etc., all point to defects in character that were there from the start and need to be attended to. So, it’s rarely the case that when someone finally gets clean and sober that all their personal issues are resolved and that they can resume relationships without concern. Best to be sure not only that someone is not only clean and sober but also that they have their issues worked through and have developed the maturity and character to foster a healthy relationship.

  6. Dear Dr.Simon,
    Thank you for these blogs on Disturbed Characters. I just got out of a relationship with someone who I believe to have this. Often he would play the victim in everything that had happened to him (even when something that happened was his fault). He was very manipulative, and aggressive at times as well. When we first started dating, I misinterpreted everything he did, thinking that he was really the victim of many events, I would almost pity him, and the things that happened to him. My family noticed a change in me, and only put up with him because they knew I loved him, and we were engaged to be married next year. I would often be blamed for the things he did, whether it meant he got too aggressive and hurt me (He would blame it on the fact that I might do a stance that looked like I was going to attack him? I never fully understood that due to the fact that it could happen if I lightly tapped him playfully) or whether it meant that he used his families cellphone, and got caught while texting/calling me. Inevitably it would end up being my fault for all of his short comings and problems. Although I can not completely understand some of this, I can relate to it, finding certain things in his behavior which lead for me to look this up. A lot of the things mentioned in these articles fits him very well. I am just glad to know that it wasn’t me causing all of his problems, and it wasn’t entirely my fault for the downfall of our relationship, but more or less for the fact of this problem.

    Thank you again.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Dorothy. Being made to feel responsible for the disturbed character’s behavior is a common complaint of those who haven’t yet come to understand the nature of manipulation. While I’m certainly not happy you had to go through what you did, I’m most heartened that you were able to gain a clearer perspective and that you found the blog articles and principles outlined in my book helpful.

  7. Dr. Simon,

    I cant thank you enough. I read these articles on disturbed characters and felt like I could BREATH!!! Ive been on brink of divorce with 3 kids under 5 and my husband fits every single one of these characteristics!!!! i have allowed hum to make me feel crazy, anxious and tons and tons of guilt!!! Its awakening yet terryfying, I have asked him toseek counsel, but Im the one he says needs it because Im depressed, anxious and have a hard heart. I am not sure what to do next but it was comforting to realize that Im NOT crazy!!!!

  8. Dr. Simon,

    I can’t thank you enough for all of your articles. Everything you have written has answered every single question I have regarding my husband. As crazy as this sounds, I went to therapy to learn how to deal with and help him! My therapist stated that he may have a personality disorder, but I couldn’t get him to attended any therapy sessions…
    I see every bit of his actions in your descriptions of a disturbed character.
    Long story short, he eventually landed himself in prison after multiple criminal convictions over the years. I still see the main behavioral problems of manipulation, impression-management, and responsibility-resistance. It’s like he will just very briefly take responsibility for some of his actions then he simultaneously goes back to the impression- management tactic. I don’t know that he can change and I am through trying… Maybe the next years in prison will force some change or not.

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