“Empowerment Tools: Let Go of Harmful Misconceptions” Comments, Page 1

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19 Comments (7 Discussion Threads) on “Empowerment Tools: Let Go of Harmful Misconceptions”

  1. I agree with this article. Trying to understand disturbed characters’ behaviors through paradigms created to describe neurotics, for instance, is like trying to use a fork to have your soup (instead of a spoon.)

    The same applies, in some cases, to certain psychological tests or evaluations, because some of them have been designed to measure or test certain psychological traits or personality aspects, while others have been designed for other purposes (measure other things.)

    I think that in trying to understand the disturbed character’s behavior, people tend to use the wrong “tools” (misconceptual lines of thought, old theories, etc.)

    The harmful part I see in this, is the fact that using this “wrong tools” to explain such behaviors, actually end up blurring a person’s thinking – which, in turn, empowers even more the disturbed character’s manipulative actions and purposes.

    (Albert Einstein used to say, If you want different results, try doing things in a different way, so let’s try thinking differently, then.)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mariana. Very well stated. BTW, I like your soup metaphor even better than my neurosurgery one!

  2. So, what would be good indicators for when WE are the disordered character as opposed to being the person in relationship with such a person? (I always struggle with, “Is it me or him/her?” because I’m aware that I don’t have the most ordered personality in the world.)

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

    1. Good question, Marie. One of the main characteristics of the truly disordered character is that she or he is already well-aware of the ways of thinking and patterns of behavior he/she exhibits that are at odds with moral/ethical/social, etc. standards. He knows he lies and manipulates. She knows she defies the “rules.” So there is nothing really to “look out for.” I have several posts that describe the vast differences between “neurotics” and CDs. That said, everyone falls somewhere along a spectrum of being mostly neurotic vs. mostly character disturbed. Those with severe character disturbance know well their characteristics that most others disdain but are more than comfortable with them. For those with mild degrees of character disturbance (i.e. have some neurosis), the awareness level might not be so high. But in such cases, because the person also has some degree of conscience, they’re likely to experience some level of inner distress about their behavior, whether or not the message from their conscience is heeded.

    2. One more point. In any relationship, it’s always a little bit us, a little bit them. The real question is whether those flaws that apply to us are part of a self-defeating neurotic conflict or part of an antisocial stance arising out of a failure to develop social conscientiousness or an outright antagonism toward the welfare of others.

  3. So good to be free of the need to figure out my ex’s behavior.

    I do remember vacillating from “If I could understand him better, then I will be able to help him see the need to move beyond, suspicions of me and the guys at work and neighbors and depression, hate of others, worship of his abused and stoic mother, spite toward his father, and doubts about my love for him…..”.etc,

    and then the other side, “Oh his behavior does not compute. Therefore, I will stick with what does make sense, with people who do respond to love, and what gives me satisfaction, raising my kids, socializing with the neighbors over holidays, and working part time or full time or not at all, etc.”

    Devastating to me was to realize that it was true, he would not change so I had to save myself, it was that bad.

    Doing much better. Very happy with outcomes, even with the hardships presented since my changes.

  4. What I have realised with disordered characters (and it probably echoes what you’ve said Dr. Simon) is that they do realise what they’re doing. I’ve been out with a few (I think you can say I’m fairly neurotic) and they’ll consistently tell lies, and I used to give them the benefit of the doubt and think maybe they’re in denial or don’t realise or whatever.

    But after a bit I started to think “well even when I’m up to in denial I know when I’m lying” and I used to challenge them. And eventually they’d tell the truth. But this could often take circular arguments/ongoing discussions. Not worth the hassle. I still don’t get why they think it’s okay.

    1. Hi, Ellie. Thanks for the comment.

      They think it’s okay primarily because it often works in getting them what they want and secondarily because they don’t have any inner apprehension arising out of conscience propelling them to do otherwise. They only give up on the tactics when somebody finally has their number so to speak and they’re no longer able to manipulate successfully. Even then, they don’t really reconsider their preferred way of doing things. And they don’t try their antics on other disordered characters, either. They’re on the lookout for others who are neurotic enough for them to take advantage of.

  5. I’m getting a lot of good from all these articles. Reminds me also of Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That”, where he posits that these characters do what they do simply because they get so many rewards from it. Quite simple, really. My task is to practice what Marcus Aurelius said so many eons ago: “Look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

  6. Hello Dr Simon
    One thing I noticed in my character disturbed ex, and you talk about it ‘In Sheeps Clothing’ is fighting. My ex would leave the relationship every time we had a fight. He would say he hated fighting because he grew up watching his parents fight all the time and he didn’t want this for his life, justifing himself for walking out. What I find interesting is he would be the first to antagonise a situaion or react defensively if he didn’t get his own way or if someone didn’t agree with him, hence creating an arguement. I noticed him do this with his family as well as myself. It was like a constant test of wills which I’m afraid I had to give up in order to protect myself. Can you give some insight into conflict with the character disturbed?

    1. Hi, Cathy. Thanks for the question. Let’s see if I can answer it in a helpful way.

      When someone gives what appears a rational explanation (rationalizes) for behavior (e.g., “my parents fought and I don’t want that in my life”) that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve given you all (or possibly even the primary reason) for the motivation behind their behavior. Besides, when it come to reckoning with behavior and developing one’s character, the “reasons” for a behavior are irrelevant. If a behavior presents a problem, it needs to be corrected.

      Also, be careful about using the term “defensively” when describing how people react. This implies either that another person has actually attacked the person or that the person at least perceives that another has attacked them. Seeing yourself as an attacker simply because you confront issues is a sure way to eventually succumb to manipulation tactics.

      Neurotics try way too hard to “understand.” The person dealing with a disturbed character does not need “insight” into their behavior, and the disturbed character already has insight. Trying to “understand” too much inevitably fosters “enabling.”

      Lastly, there are two kinds of fighting: constructive and destructive. Sometimes we need to stand up for a noble cause or principle, provided we do so with discipline and without malice. Such fighting is often constructive. Fighting for only something we want and without care about the impact on others is almost always destructive.

  7. Thank you Dr Simon

    I think that is a very helpful response. Especially the part about ‘seeing yourself as an attacker just because you confront issues’. As a self confessed neutoric I beleive I try to ‘understand’ the person because what they say and how they act are worlds apart. I find my head beleives one part and my heart believes the other, hence judge actions not intensions….. I’m getting there

  8. I struggle in a world you have explained Dr. Simon, where most people, including the character disordered, have not accepted what is behind what we see and what everyone does, from an appropriate paradigm. So I thank you for your wisdom in this matter and for sharing on your website snippets of what I have known always, but have not been confirmed by anyone, but you. I have ordered both of your books to get more in-depth details so that I can figure out how not to be used and abused by the CD but also others who insist on an old paradigm. Thanks, Kathy

  9. Your article really helped me. There were thoughts that I could feel in the back of my mind, but couldn’t sort out to use in a pragmatic way. Thank you very much!

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