This seems to be a very hot topic, perhaps one we can all relate to and one that strikes a deep emotional chord. Someone mentioned that calling people who run the gamut from NPD to Anti-Social Personality Disorder uncompassionate is too harsh. I’m only stating a scientific fact. Research has indicated that people with Anti-Social Personality Disorder or those labeled Sociopathic actually only show lower limbic brain activities in response to emotional situations. Tests indicate they are literally not able to have higher functioning feelings such as love, compassion, empathy, etc. There appears to be an organic part to these diseases either non-development of certain types of bonding causes the inability to physically happen in the first few years of life or some people may just have this type of brain, this is where science is unsure.
But just because some people are unable to be compassionate doesn’t mean we should be compassion-less toward them. I am not advocating anything except whatever breaking point a person gets to in dealing with people with these problems should not be judged as everyone has a certain tolerance. And as Chris points out in her interesting post somethings are just forces of nature which we can not control and there is no point in taking it personally. In fact it may have nothing at all to do with us just as the tide moving in has nothing to do with our desire or karma.
It is admirable to take responsibility for the self and necessary for our growth however there are things in life which we are not responsible for and can not change. This perhaps is the lesson. We are not all powerful Gods. We are part of God but we do not control the Universe (Thank God for that, huh!) With so many agendas and so many issues and so many various lessons we sometimes get tangled up in other people’s issues and must learn to separate. It’s OK to not take responsibility for things we have no control over like our health, our family member’s insanity or the death of a loved one. This was my point about New Age philosophy, it often takes very complicated issues and dynamics and boils them down to a catch phrase and black and white thinking. The reason the esoteric side of things was kept secret for the seeker only to know was exactly because information is powerful and misinformation is dangerous. Before we can manifest perfect health and happiness through visualization there maybe 40 years of psychological therapy needed to undo damage done in childhood, or there maybe genetic factors that make it impossible for us to be 100% physically well. We can do our part by taking care of ourselves but we can’t stop old age, disease or death through wishing it away. Chaos and decay are just as important to the balance of nature as love and harmony are, this is not something anyone would say in a get rich quick medicine show New Age book that you would ever read. It’s not what people want to hear. We want to believe we are all powerful and can fix anything we want. But we often can not and there is nothing shameful or wrong with that it is part of the process of life to understand we all must go with the flow of energy we are swimming in.
I talked to one woman today who was having some health problems and was very embarrassed about them. She kept saying she could take care of it with her diet and blaming her health problems on herself. But the truth is she’s almost 50 years old and her body is going to have some trouble as it ages. I actually had to stop her and tell her that it wasn’t her fault and all she could do was go to the doctor and take good care of herself. That the sooner she did this the better chance she had of avoiding complications. She told me she had avoided going to a doctor for awhile because she was afraid to hear that something might be wrong. This is a common problem as if not knowing will make it go away. This sort of wish fulfillment thinking (which is very New Age – this woman is also a New Age practitioner) is akin to visualizing winning the lottery and then flogging yourself when you got the numbers wrong. It isn’t very grounded and I think it is a left over from the child’s desire to blame everything on the self in order to feel in control.
Some great books on Personality Disorders are:
The Sociopath Next Door
The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family”
Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable and Volatile Relationship
I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality
Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-IV-TR
I found Understanding the Borderline Mother to be one of the best books on personality disorders I have ever read. It gives a very clear delineation of the disorder and how it manifests differently in different people. BPD is a very complex disorder that often has many other psychological disturbances that can muddy the water. People with BPD can often have addiction problems, have eating disorders, bipolar disorder and a host of other problems making people who have to deal with a parent with BPD feel very confused about what exactly the problem is with the parent. This book is much more helpful than I Hate You Don’t Leave Me, which is probably more suited to someone with the disorder and not for someone seeking advice on how to deal with someone with this disorder. I also think the DSM can be invaluable for understanding the basic psychological issues people have, not that one should go diagnosing anyone after reading the DSM. It just gives a sense of the spectrum of disorders and how complicated yet alike we as human beings are. The Sociopath Next Door seems to be out of print but I found it to be fascinating as the author relays the spectrum of that disorder through various anecdotal stories.
I saw that one reader (Christopher) was caring for a mentally ill mother and had a mentally ill brother. I would highly suggest reading some of these books, they really will help you to feel not so alone and give you ideas on how to set better boundaries and ultimately (I hope for your sake) they inspire you to seek help outside your family. You really shouldn’t be dealing with all of that by yourself it can be extremely damaging to your self-esteem and to your life’s purpose as people with personality disorders characteristically derail others in an attempt to get more “narcissistic supply” or what normal people would call attention. They are like psychic vampires that deplete you entirely without a thought to your needs, health, spirit or purpose for being here. Do yourself a favor Christopher and don’t take on all that burden without at least some help.