“Out of the Closet: As a Borderline and a Narcissist.” (reblogged article)

Another ACON blogger who believed she was “just” a narcissistic abuse victim with C-PTSD and “fleas” has been doing some serious soul-searching.  This is what she is discovering about herself, and it’s like finding the world flipped around on its head–or walking into a house of mirrors.

I’m reblogging this because it comes just days after my own “coming out.”   I can relate to everything she writes here.

Please follow Sleeping Tiger’s blog:
https://asleepingtiger.wordpress.com/

Out of the Closet: As a Borderline and a Narcissist

By Aura Gael, Sleeping Tiger blog.

houseofmirrors

Even now, just as I begin to write I can feel myself wanting to detach, even slightly dissociate into a day-dream type state.

I’m tired though and depressed. What I take some days for my depression and anxiety, makes me tired the next day, which in turns feeds the depression and my boredom.

So, to the point of this post: I have borderline personality disorder. I was diagnosed some time ago, but even if I hadn’t been, I could, quite confidently still say this and know it’s true.

In fact, I sought the diagnosis. Although I would’ve preferred to be proven wrong, the truth is truth no matter how much you don’t want it to be. Sure, I could also be labeled as having Complex Post Traumatic Disorder too and in fact I do think I suffer from that as well. After all, I have borderline because of ongoing emotional neglect and abuse via both parents, which also caused the post traumatic stress.

The traumatic stress was exacerbated during the stretch of weeks that my family and I cared for my father after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. There abuse exhausted me. I found myself wondering during the editing of this post, if their treatment of me didn’t play a part in removing the mask that I wear. That being said, the mask is and has been off in my living situation for a long time. It has come off in periodic fits of rage or berating of others.

According to the DSM (any version that lists it) I fit quite well into each symptom of BPD. I have mentioned the personality disorder here and there on this blog, but not a whole lot, pertaining to myself, preferring to go along with the (C)PTSD part of the diagnosis, given the way I acquired it. Note: I was not diagnoses with Complex PTSD. The therapist who diagnosed me with borderline also diagnosed me with PTSD.

My thinking on that is because the complex form is not recognized in the DSM and it’s likely for insurance purposes as well. This therapist , in fact all the therapists I’ve seen covered by public assistance have seemed to be more concerned with making sure they get paid than making sure they can help me.

Digressing…sorry.

Feeling afraid and shameful, because of the stigma, I have preferred to mention as little as possible in reference to myself. Besides, don’t people with C-PTSD have trouble with impulse control and containing emotions as well?  (Rhetorical question.)

Some of what I’ve written of my behavior though, certainly speaks for itself and someone knowledgeable of the disorders would likely figure it out.  In fact someone knowledgeable may even guess I have some level of narcissism as well.

Read the rest of this post here.

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Waking up to the truth. #narcissism #NPD

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Credit: http://healingfromnpd.com/node/19

I am very excited to announce that the owner of the new blog about NPD and ACONs will be writing a guest post for this blog. You may remember I was discussing this blog the other day — she is an ACON (adult child of narcissists) who recently discovered she herself has NPD.

Up to 70% of children of narcissists develop the disorder themselves. I think this blogger is onto something huge, since that condition most of us call “fleas” could actually be low-level narcissism, but given a different name because it’s just too hard to face the truth. I can’t speak for others, but I certainly think that’s the case for me. I just can’t deny the sobering fact that I fit the profile for covert narcissism perfectly. In my heart, I’ve known this for a while (in fact it’s what made me start this blog), but I still keep finding excuses to think of my symptoms as indicating something other than what they actually are.

What is covert narcissism?

http://www1.appstate.edu/~hillrw/Narcissism/shycovertnarcissist.html

The author of the blog linked to in the first paragraph wrote an article that took the 9 DSM-IV criteria of NPD and adapted them to those of us who identify as ACONs with “fleas” and C-PTSD. Could this be a wake up call for many of us?

Only if we take off the horse blinders.

http://healingfromnpd.com/DSM

It was a wake up call for me.
Here are some of my own C-NPD symptoms:

— Constant worrying about what other people think of me.
— Shyness in social situations because of my worry over what others will think.
— “Rehearsing” what I am going to say in advance, while someone else is talking, so I never really hear what they say
— Rehearsing how I will act in social situations, which is very exhausting for me (and made me believe, for over a decade, that I had Aspergers).
–Withdrawing (sometimes with resentment)from situations in which I feel like I’m being ignored or not given the attention I think I deserve.
— Lack of empathy — not so much because I have a hard heart or don’t care about others (I’m not a sociopath!), but because I often don’t hear others because I’m too busy worrying about what I will say next to be seen in the best possible light.
— Feigning empathy
— Over-concern with being seen as a “good” or “smart” person.
— Envious
— While feeling worthless and insecure, I still have this underlying resentment that others are getting the attention and adulation I deserve but have never received.
— I feel like if people “knew the real me” (a “me” I don’t even know) they would hate me, so I put on a show of being much nicer than I really am. (This doesn’t apply to online, where I am more fully “myself” and don’t have to wear that mask — but in the real world, this is very much what I act like)
— Deep down, although I hate myself and think I don’t deserve anything, I also feel like I’m “superior” to others because I’m more “deep” or intelligent than most people, only they can’t see or appreciate this fact.
–Similarly, I often feel “superior” to people who I perceive as shallow or who have conventional interests and beliefs (sometimes this is triggered by secret envy of their greater success or happiness).
— I do not react well to most criticism. I usually brood over it and fall into a depression.
— I tend to devalue those who become too critical (usually by avoiding them in the future).
— Fear of appearing too vulnerable (although I am working hard on accessing my vulnerability — it’s hard work though!)
— When I was less mindful and unaware, I engaged in things like negative gossip and devaluation (usually about people I was jealous of), gaslighting and projection (without knowing I was doing these things).
— When things are going well (and I’m getting more supply), I tend to revert to a more grandiose style –this can involve things like bragging, sometimes exaggerating my achievements, or name-dropping.  (Covert or vulnerable “fragile” narcissism may actually be “failed narcissism”: when a narcissist–even a grandiose one–isn’t getting sufficient supply or they can’t deny they are failing in life, they tend to revert to the covert or vulnerable form, which is a type of “compensatory narcissism.”)
–Finding myself being disliked in many real world situations and not able to understand why (this has been improving as I’ve become more mindful and self aware).  Before, it was always “them” and I was just a misunderstood victim who everyone else refused to (or couldn’t) understand.

I realize most people do some of these things sometimes, but these are things I do all the time (and used to do a lot more of before awareness). Although I try to be mindful and not do them, they are habits that are very hard to break because they’ve been with me so long; these are my default defense mechanisms when I am not paying attention and “watching myself.”

I understand now that my growing impatience with the pervasive negative stigma toward NPD and my need to understand narcissism from an “insiders perspective” was because deep down, I “knew” and was preparing myself to become self aware.

For a victim of childhood narcissistic abuse to get to the point of realizing they may have NPD themselves, it is necessary to let go of the all too common “us versus them,” black and white thinking that holds so many of us captive to our own narcissism and keeps us from looking inside ourselves to see the shocking truth.

But take heart: if you are a self aware narcissist (or suspect you may be one), it’s not your fault. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person and it doesn’t mean you can never change (I make an exception here for malignant or sociopathic narcissists, who probably cannot change and even like what they are even if they’re self aware). “Narcissists can never change” is a myth the Kool-Aid drinkers like to make everyone believe. Your narcissism was something that was done TO you, and you most likely had no control over it. You adopted those defense mechanisms to survive, and according to Pete Walker, narcissism is the “Fight” reaction to narcissistic abuse and is a manifestion of C-PTSD. You CAN change and you can even heal! Being self aware and WILLING to change means you have already taken a huge step toward healing, possibly the most difficult step of all.

Remember, narcissism begets narcissism. But we aren’t hopeless and a cure IS possible!
We can break the generational cycle by looking inside ourselves and working together to stop the stigma NPD has gained.

Just give me the diagnosis already!

I really wish my therapist would just go ahead and give me an NPD diagnosis because that would bring me some much needed closure and make me stop trying to find excuses that it’s really “something else.” It would confirm once and for all what I’ve suspected for over a year. But he probably isn’t going to do that since he hates psychiatric diagnoses and prefers to work with symptoms instead of disorders.

That being said, I know enough about psychology to recognize that many of the techniques he is using with me are those used on people with NPD (also BPD).   I still think he’s a fantastic therapist who is helping me a lot, whether he ever gives me a label or not.  Maybe he has diagnosed me, but just doesn’t want to tell me.

New blog that shatters NPD stigma.

shattering_glass

When I first started writing about narcissism, shortly after I went No Contact with my own narcissists, like many other Adult Children of Narcissists(ACON) bloggers, I was a hater. I thought all narcs were evil and should be lined up and shot. I didn’t think there was a cure, and drank the Kool-Aid that they were soulless demons who would never change.

Rage and even hatred is a normal reaction when you’re going No Contact, and is probably necessarily in order to free yourself and avoid any further damage. After all, anger is necessary to override the fear and depression of being trapped in a relationship with a narcissist, and it’s true that the things they do can be very damaging and bad for your mental health. But holding onto hatred once the danger has passed is nearly as bad for you as narcissistic abuse itself. In fact, it can turn you into a narcissist.

At some point, I began to grow tired of the endless narc-bashing I saw on almost every blog and website written for victims. In fact, it became pretty clear that a number of the narc-abuse victim bloggers were in fact acting pretty narcissistic themselves, especially after I was cruelly mobbed by a group of such bloggers after I dared to suggest that maybe not all narcissists were evil and maybe some could even be cured of their disorder. To them, this was blasphemy. How dare I put NPD and C-PTSD in the same box, suggesting that they might in fact be closely related and that NPD was itself a result of trauma? It didn’t help when I admitted I had a BPD diagnosis. To some of the haters, being a borderline is almost as bad as being a narcissist. After all, people with BPD, having a Cluster B disorder, are also known to manipulate others and be selfish and abusive (though not every borderline acts out against others — some only hurt themselves).

I began to want to understand NPD instead of hating them. I joined a forum where both narcissists and non-narcissists who have had to deal with them post, and realized that the narcissists suffer too. Many of them even want to heal. I was surprised by how little drama there was on the forum. It just seemed like both groups wanted to understand what made the other one tick. I learned a lot there about the way narcissists think and realized they do have feelings. It was a good experience.

Something else happened too. When I realized not all narcissists are evil and some are even self-aware and really don’t want to hurt others, I was finally able to look at myself with more clarity. It came as a bit of a shock at first that I fit on that spectrum myself. I actually fit the profile for covert narcissism pretty well. This was sobering, in fact devastating, but I dealt with that by starting this blog. I don’t know if I have NPD (my therapist doesn’t think so) but I am definitely on the spectrum and have several N traits. And yes, I have at times even been abusive to others, without realizing I was being abusive. Realizing I had inflicted pain on others was upsetting to me, but ultimately enlightening.

People develop NPD due to childhood trauma or at least a lack of mirroring or unconditional love from their parents, especially the mother. They lack empathy because they were never taught empathy, which is a learned behavior. I won’t get into the mechanics of how NPD develops (I’ve discussed that at length elsewhere and any psychology book about narcissism can explain how that works).

“Research shows nearly 70% of children with an parent have NPD themselves.”

There’s a concept called “fleas” which is well-known in the ACON community. That means that you have picked up narcissistic traits yourself from the narcissists in your life, like a dog picks up a case of fleas. But what if those of us with fleas were honest and admitted we are actually on the spectrum ourselves? That we picked up those traits so we could survive? That we might even be narcissists? All narcissists also had “fleas,” since it is in part a learned behavior. They picked up those traits from their own abusers in order to survive. It was hardly ever a a conscious decision though, as many of the haters believe.

I didn’t write this to make excuses for narcissistic behavior or the abuse they often inflict. Those who aren’t self aware, or those who are high on the spectrum (malignant narcissists) usually have no desire to change, and probably can’t change. They are too far gone. I also believe in No Contact. It’s really the only viable way to “handle” a narcissist who has no desire to change the way they act. You can’t make a narcissist want to change, either. They either do or they don’t. Don’t try to coax a narcissist to change, because it won’t work and you will only frustrate yourself. The desire to do so must come from within.

It’s also a myth that if you’re asking yourself the question, “am I a narcissist?” that automatically means you are not one. It’s a myth that narcissists can’t be self-aware. If you are asking yourself if you’re a narcissist, there is a chance you could be one. There are online tests you can take to find out, or you can get an official diagnosis to rule it out. I read a shocking statistic too: The Everything Guide to Narcissistic Personality Disorder states that two thirds of children who have parents with NPD go on to develop NPD themselves!  I think many (if not most) cases of “fleas” are actually cases of low-level narcissism.  Even Pete Walker, in his book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, believes that narcissism is the “Fight” response to narcissistic abuse (explained in the concept of the “4 F’s”) .   In other words, all people with NPD also have C-PTSD that underlies it.    This isn’t a popular view with abuse victims (which is understandable), but it makes perfect sense.    Yet many ACONs, even those who have read Walker’s book, deny that narcissists can also be victims (and vice versa).   That there’s any overlap or gray areas.   They just assume people with NPD are all evil, soulless monsters incapable of self-awareness or any good intentions and that as victims, they are blameless  and have never hurt a fly.

For awhile now, I have believed that narcissists are just another type of victim of narcissistic abuse.   This has earned me some side-eye (and worse) from some of the narc-abuse bloggers, but I don’t care.  It’s what I have come to believe.   The disorder is unnecessarily stigmatized, but not many people with NPD (unlike those with BPD) are fighting back against the stigma.  Maybe some don’t care (or in the case of malignant narcissists, even like the stigma).   But there are those who hate it and wish there was a more nuanced view of this disorder.   It bothers them that even therapists won’t take them on because of the stigma (maybe this is part of the reason they are rarely in therapy).

A few months ago a diagnosed NPD started commenting on this blog. She was in therapy and trying to change the way she acted.  I’m not sure what happened to this person (she hasn’t commented here in awhile), but I simply could not think of her as evil in any way.  She opened up to me about the trauma she endured and we became Facebook friends.  She just seemed like someone who hurt a lot all the time, and had become a near-recluse due to the shame in having the disorder and being afraid she was going to hurt someone.  I didn’t see much, if any, difference between her and any other victim of narcissistic abuse, despite her NPD diagnosis.

Yesterday I got a new follower on Twitter.   This person just started a blog about what it feels like to have NPD and is in therapy for it and actively trying to change:  please click on this link:

Main (updated) site on WordPress.com:

https://recoveringfromnpd.wordpress.com/

Old site (with forum): http://www.healingfromnpd.com/

The woman who runs the site practices mindfulness, something many people with BPD and those who blog about having it are familiar with.     I took a look at her website and liked what I saw.   She doesn’t glorify narcissism or act like she’s proud of it.  In fact, her site debunks many of the myths that so many of the narc-abuse bloggers have come to believe about narcissism.   There aren’t too many blogs like hers, in fact hardly any.    There was a time when BPD was almost as stigmatized as NPD (and still is by many people), but now it’s lost much of that stigma due to anti-stigma activism by borderlines who blog about what it’s like to have it and have proved they CAN change.    I think the same thing needs to happen with NPD and this is one blogger who is doing just that.  I highly recommend her site, not only to self-aware low level narcissists who don’t want to be that way anymore, but also to narcissistic abuse victims who think they have “fleas.”    I think sites like hers can help reduce the stigma and give a more nuanced and fair view of narcissism and how it feels “from the other side.”

Part One: “HeartSync” — a psycho-spiritual treatment for trauma and attachment disorders.

 

heart-in-hands-thumbnail

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This article will be in two parts.

This part is a brief overview of HeartSync and how it works. The second part will be about my personal experience in Chapel Hill over the past four days.   I just returned today from a four day intensive spiritual/psychological retreat that addresses childhood trauma and helps you release that trauma to re-connect the various parts of your heart that were separated or dissociated due to trauma.   HeartSync attempts to re-synchronize the various parts of your “heart” (really different parts of the brain), to make you whole again, recognizing that God himself (Jesus) is the only one who can bring a person back together again and rebuild the neural pathways that were broken by a lack of early attachment to the mother.  The therapist is just a facilitator.

The goal is to release “trapped pain,” through emotional catharsis facilitated by “God as primary therapist.” Once the trapped pain is released, the person usually begins to see improvements. Sometimes this can be pretty dramatic (as I will describe later — we got to see four “live demonstrations”).

I can’t give you a exhaustive description of everything I learned, because there was so much information. In a nutshell, HeartSync is a type of trauma and attachment-therapy that merges psychoanalytic and traditional psychological modalities (including brain science) of healing with Christianity and spirituality.

It’s believed that anything can be healed with God/Jesus present in the therapy room guiding the session, but there are certain protocols that must be followed by the therapist, as with any other modality of psychotherapeutic healing.  The patient or client must also be willing and have at least some belief in God or Christianity for it to be effective.

An Overview of HeartSync

HeartSync was developed by Father Andrew Miller, an Anglican minister and licensed therapist (LCSW), using an intriguing combination of his knowledge of brain science, traditional psychology, psychoanalytic techniques, and Christ-centered spirituality used to heal trauma and “mend the brokenhearted.”

It is believed that there is no one with any disorder who cannot be healed–and not only that, healed much faster than using traditional, secular therapy–just by using HeartSync techniques.   Some people whose trauma doesn’t run too deep can be healed in a single session.   Others take longer, but it normally doesn’t take as long as traditional therapy, due to the presence of inviting God/Jesus into the sessions to direct the course of therapy.

Here is their website. 

Unfortunately, it’s under construction right now, so the information on the site right now is minimal and a bit hard to navigate.   I’ve been assured this is being worked on.

The human brain and its “core parts.”

All humans are made up of “core parts,” which make up the “heart” of a person.  These core parts correspond to various areas of the brain.   These “core parts” are:

Emotion (feelings, intuition, creativity, visual — overseen by Right Pre-frontal cortex).

Function (thinking, learning, language, beliefs, verbal — overseen by Left Pre-frontal cortex).

Original Self (The Identity Center; “who am I”? — this is overseen by the Orbital Prefrontal Cortex and regulates Dopamine (the “feel good” chemical.)     In a healthy person , the Original Self can move around freely and is not obscured or buried by Hidden Guardians, or renegade Function or Emotion parts that have overtaken the Original Self in reaction to traumatic events.   A person without access to or who is dissociated from their O.S. will feel an inner emptiness or a “void” they cannot fill.  This “emptiness”  is common in C-PTSD, BPD, NPD, and other personality disorders.  It is also present in DID.

Guardians (precortical — amygdala).  Guardians stand between Function and Emotion but under normal circumstances do not block the interface between them in pathological ways.  These guardians allow the person to have healthy boundaries, not only between themselves and others, but between their various “core parts.”   In a healthy person, there is free communication between all the core parts, but only as needed.     The Original Self (soul–prefrontal cortex), Emotion (right brain–cortical), and Function (left brain–cortical) work together beautifully when they are synchronized and allow God in to guide the person along in their life choices.

The “Attachment Center” is ruled by the thalamus and basal ganglia — these are the most primitive pre-cortical (primitive) brain structures.  Attachment is our most basic need.  If attachment and bonding was not sufficiently formed during infancy, the person will experience problems with all the higher brain function listed above.   A trauma occurring at a lower level/more primitive level of brain function will be much harder to heal than one occurring during later childhood or adolescence, when the cortex was fully formed and cognitive memory and language had kicked in.

But “remembering” an event is not necessary for healing.  Even if a trauma occurred during early infancy or even in the womb,  before myelinization occurred, thus making  cognitive memory possible,  a person can still release emotional or physical trauma, even if they can’t remember what the trauma actually was.

Every human possesses all these core parts.   They should all work together like a symphony.

Unfortunately, with trauma, the core parts get so separated they can no longer communicate with each other, and in severe cases, become so dissociated or blocked the entire personality splits up into alters (Dissociative Identity Disorder).

Severe trauma, especially Type A trauma, can lead to a physical altering of the actual brain itself, which cannot normally be healed without the intervention of God through prayer and the willingness of the individual who is to be treated to change.

brain4levels

The lower the level of the brain structure (1 – 4 in the diagram ), the earlier the trauma occurred and the more difficult the treatment will be.

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Type A and Type B Trauma

There are two types of trauma:

Type A trauma:  not getting what you need from a caregiver (outside of physical needs like food, shelter, warmth, and fluids): the lack of love, acceptance, positive mirroring, acknowledgement, nurturing, communication.   The Still Face experiment, which I’ve posted about before, shows very graphically the changes that come over an infant denied those important attachment signals from the mom, even if only for a few minutes in a controlled setting like a therapist’s office.     We are wired for attachment, and the lack of it has devastating effects on the personality.

Type B trauma:  any bad thing that happens to you, either in childhood or later on.   This could be physical or overt emotional abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse (many DID patients were ritually abused in satanic or other cults),  PTSD caused by trauma in war combat, serious illness, natural disasters, being battered by an abusive spouse, being abandoned, the death of a loved one, the sudden loss of a job, or even loss of a dream.

Type A trauma can be worse than Type B, because it tends to happen during infancy, is pre-verbal, and unlike later trauma (which is stored in Emotion or Function, which are both part of the cerebral cortex of the brain) is stored in the very primitive, subcortical, “reptilian” regions of the brain (the amygdala, basal ganglia, and thalamus).  The victim can’t name or describe the trauma because they have no language for it and it may have happened so early the brain wasn’t myelinized yet and so there is no corresponding cognitive memory of the trauma.

It’s harder for a patient to describe Type A trauma– a “lack” of attachment–or convince others that this is abuse, because most people are more likely to show sympathy when you can “name” the abuse or traumatic event and it was overt (Type B trauma).   People may not be sympathetic when you received all your physical requirements, were physically well cared for, and were not physically abused.  But if there was a failure of maternal/infant bonding, the person will never know learn how to connect meaningfully with others and build a healthy relational capacity until and if they can address the Type A trauma they endured.

Type A trauma is why children who were orphaned or abandoned as infants so often develop severe attachment disorders, which can and do lead to Complex PTSD and the personality disorders (the partial fracturing of the Original Self — in the case of NPD the person sets up an “alter”-like “personality” called the False Self) or even DID (the complete fracturing of a personality into separate “alters”) later in life.

heartsync

The roles of the Guardians.

We all have Guardians.   Guardians are universal core parts situated between Function and Emotion; they are responsible for all our defense mechanisms and decide what Emotions can be felt by the person at a given time and which ones can’t.  They help us maintain good boundaries. Everyone has at least one Guardian (the Primary Guardian).  A person with trauma-or attachment-based disorders such as Complex PTSD, DID or the personality disorders, probably has several or many Guardians (Hidden Guardians), which may appear to the person as different “people.”  Hidden Guardians are all split off from the Primary Guardian at the time of the trauma that created them, so some guardians are still very young children and their particular “job” (defense mechanism) is the only thing they ever knew how to do. There are at least 15 kinds of Hidden Guardians. Most of these are dysfunctional; a few are aggressive and hostile.

All Guardians (including Hidden Guardians) have one primary purpose: to protect the inner child (Original Self) from having to feel or experience further trauma or painful emotion by keeping it locked up in the Emotion part of the brain, not letting it through to Function (or only letting it through when it’s appropriate to do so, if the Guardian is healthy). Guardians are the mind’s Gatekeepers.

In a person with DID, the guardians (as well as the split Emotion/Function core parts) are so disconnected from each other that the person has amnesia for some or most of their alters and there is little to no communication between the various core parts, or hostility/animosity between the core parts, including the Guardians.

When healthy, Guardians enable the person to create healthy boundaries and allow just enough information as the person needs to filter from Emotion to Function, and back again.  When a person begins to heal, Guardians don’t disappear, but they may “flip their role” from a pathological defense mechanism to a healthy defense.

For example, a Guardian, when healed, does not go away. Instead, it can learn to switch from negative judgment of people and situations (that keeps a person trapped in unhealthy and self sabotaging life habits) to a role of wise discernment, or making the best choices (this is where God comes in, who helps the person make those healthier choices).

Levels of trauma.

Here is the continuum from normal brain functioning to the most pathological due to severe abandonment/abuse trauma:

  1. Daydreaming: partial, temporary “dissociation” when uncomfortable feelings (including “boredom”) begin to arise.   Everyone does this.   Type A or B trauma is not necessary at this stage.
  2. Painful Memory: No dissociation, but could comprise traumatic memory and possibly the use of defense mechanisms (this is part of what Guardians are for).    Painful Memory can be experienced by a mentally normal person who has experienced Type B trauma (a bad thing happened to them).  Most humans have experienced Type B trauma and the painful memory may be a trigger for them.
  3. Ego-States:  Includes partial dissociation.  “Ego-states” (more circumscribed than painful memories that may include some separation but not to the degree of DID “alters”)  include the Personality Disorders, Complex PTSD, severe PTSD, and possibly Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and and other serious mental conditions outside the common “neurotic” anxiety states and mild depression that most people experience from time to time.   For people stuck in the ego-states, Type A (and possibly Type B) trauma were present.As an aside, my own theory about NPD in regards to this theory is that it is probably the closest of the personality disorders to DID — due to the development of a distinctive “false self” (a sort of “alter”) that differs from and almost completely obscures the true self (Original Self), which the person may not be consciously aware of. In other PD’s the true/original self is not as well hidden. My feeling is NPD is a takeover by a strong, hostile Guardian or group of hostile Guardians who will not allow any vulnerable Emotion through to Function unless it serves their immediate purpose.
  4. DID and DID caused by Ritual Abuse:  Complete dissociation resulting in a fracturing into separate “alters” who may have amnesia for other alters or the core personality.   Usually both Type A and Type B trauma were present, especially in Ritual Abuse, an especially traumatic type of abuse that may involve the deliberate “programming” of a person to carry out certain actions, even suicide, if a certain “trigger” is activated.     The effects are even worse if this type of abuse has been going on since infancy or early childhood, and the prognosis more grim.

Because there is SO much more information and my goal here isn’t to be a HeartSync instructor (at least not now), I am going to stop this post here.  You can check their website above if you’d like to learn more.

My next post (Part Two) will be about my personal experience  over the past few days.  That will be up tonight. I need to get it here while it’s still fresh in my mind. In some ways, I feel like a completely different person and feel a lot “lighter” mentally and emotionally.

You can read about my first day in this post (that resulted in am intense release in a very large pocket of trapped pain).
Checking in.

There is still so much that triggers me.

triggers

Even after a year in intensive psychodynamic therapy, various (and some kind of crazy) self-therapies before that, spirituality, and blogging for two years, there are times when I feel like I’ve made no progress at all.

So many things still upset and trigger me.   I’m still hypervigilant, even to the point of paranoia at times; hypersensitive to criticism, don’t have a very good handle on my crippling anxiety and depression; and am envious.  I’m still socially awkward and avoidant; and terrified of rejection, abandonment, and disapproval.    I don’t handle other people’s anger very well, and often find myself automatically jumping on the defensive, even when there’s no reason to.  I still apologize for things that weren’t my fault, and take things too personally.   I still fret about what other people think of me.   I still have very low self esteem and feel like a complete loser much of the time.   I still do and say things that tend to self-sabotage and keep me from moving forward.

At least I know now where all this comes from, and at least I’m aware these feelings are just feelings and not facts.  They were part of my programming in my toxic family.  But knowing this doesn’t stop me from being triggered easily and resorting to primitive and self-sabotaging defense mechanisms.

But some things really have changed.    While I still have difficulty regulating my emotions sometimes, I don’t feel emotionally “dead” as often as I used to and I do regulate my emotions better than I did before I acquired that thin protective narcissistic defense layer (which I think accounted for the “dead” feeling).   I also don’t have as many (or really, any) scary and disorienting dissociative episodes anymore (those disappeared along with the emotional numbness, which is interesting).  I’m less angry than I used to be and I don’t act out against others the way I used to.  I don’t drink too much, do drugs, eat junk food compulsively, or otherwise try to “self-medicate” the way I tended to years ago.   While I can still be envious, it’s not as painful or crippling as it used to be–it’s something I can handle now.  I have more motivation and feel like my life might actually be leading somewhere.   I feel like I’m not completely useless and don’t think of myself as a “bad person” or a “useless person” anymore.

I’m also seeing the good qualities I’ve always had that I either couldn’t see before or didn’t think were good qualities.   After losing the thin protective narcissistic layer (“fleas,” I guess) that disconnected me from my own emotions, I realized I actually have a great deal of empathy.   That surprised me.   I never thought of myself as particularly empathetic before.  Part of the problem was also that I was always so focused in on myself and my turbulent and constantly changing emotions that there was simply no room left for me to care about anyone else.    I have a great sense of humor, which fortunately is something I never really lost and the ability to laugh at things might have kept me from going completely insane.   Now my sense of humor has gotten even better and is less bitter and cynical.   I’m open-minded and don’t think I’m very judgmental at all.     I’m also coming to realize that my innate sensitivity– which I used to be so ashamed of–is really a great thing once you know how to use it.

I’ve come to accept that I may never be completely healed (after all, it took my whole life to get that way), but I think I can live with that.  No one is perfect.  So I’ll just keep working at getting better and try to be the best I can be.  That’s all I can do.  That’s all anyone can do.

 

Grieving and progress.

grieving-5

I’m so depressed I had to call in sick at work and set up an emergency therapy session this afternoon.  I couldn’t sleep last night at all.   I spent the entire weekend crying.   This after so many years of not crying enough. This is more than just my SAD acting up.  That never got THIS bad before, even though it’s probably contributing to it.  I have no idea what set it off; it seems like everything’s a potential trigger.   Maybe nothing at all did; maybe this was inevitable.

I think last month something inside me really did “shift” and the initial response was happiness when I had no need of my defenses.   But I’m unable yet to reconcile living without them with the harshness of real life.   My therapist thinks I’m grieving and this is a necessary process but it’s excruciating.

He thinks I’ve slammed headlong into the “void” and have not learned how to fill the hole yet without my defenses protecting me and that’s why I feel like I’m losing my mind.    In Borderline Personality Disorder (and other PD’s) and C-PTSD this is called the “abandonment depression.”  Mentally, I know this is  good and means I’ve made more progress but emotionally it’s hell.    I have to keep telling myself this is not permanent and is necessary part of healing.    It does feel like a grieving process.  It’s hard to function.  But what exactly I’m grieving I’m not sure.  That’s what I’m going to find out.

I did see this post this morning and it made me feel a tad better.   Maybe it can help someone else too.

Depression Is Happiness

****

I also saw this.   It’s a little judgmental and “scolding” in parts, but also there’s a lot of truth here.

http://borderlinepersonality.ca/borderabandonwound.htm

Diagnostic hell.

diagnostic_hell

I’ve always aimed to be completely honest on this blog and hold back nothing, but there’s something I’ve been avoiding talking about for about a week.   Now is the time, and I doubt (and hope!) no one judges me negatively for it.

As most of you probably know, I started this blog because I decided I had NPD (covert, fragile type).  It was self-diagnosed and I set about a nutty regimen of self therapy (some of the stuff worked, some did not).  I got stuck and stopped progressing, and decided to see a therapist.  I found a very good trauma and attachment therapist, who works with people with personality disorders and Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).   Still, he hates labels and refused to give me one.  He prefers treating symptoms over “disorders.”

When I told him I thought I had NPD he said there was no way and he even doubted I had BPD anymore or if I even ever had it at all (I beg to differ and have an official diagnosis for that).   He based this on the fact that I don’t play mind games with him, I don’t manipulate him, and I’m not “difficult.”   I don’t overstep his boundaries or act high maintenance or entitled.   In fact, he’s told me several times that he looks forward to our sessions.  I realize there may be a little counter-transference on his part (which is pretty normal as long as it’s not acted on by the therapist), but I also think I do present myself as someone who’s fairly easy to get along with (and truth be told, I am easy to get along with these days and most people seem to like me, even if I still avoid close contact or deep relationships with anyone).

Finally, insisting on having SOME kind of diagnosis (for some reason, this helps me feel less crazy), he toted out his never-used looking copy of the DSM and we looked through it together.   He told me I didn’t fit the criteria for any personality disorder, but PTSD might be a good fit.  He wasn’t aware of Complex PTSD because it’s not a recognized diagnosis, but when I explained what it was, he said that sounded like what I probably had.   So I got a kind of/sort of diagnosis.  I let him borrow my copy of Pete Walker’s wonderful book about C-PTSD, which he is reading now. (For the record, Walker believes personality disorders are complications of C-PTSD, which provides a kind of template for their development).

That was several months ago.

During our last session, he told me something that sent me back down the rabbit hole, at least for a few days.   As long as I’ve had this blog, I’ve suspected I have covert narcissism, because I feel like there’s this very thin false self I’ve developed–a false self as thin as a piece of aluminum foil, as a friend of mine put it–over my BPD. This thin veneer of narcissism kept my BPD rages and lack of control at bay, and also kept me emotionally numb.   Of course, mindfulness training  helped me maintain control, but I suspected my lack of being able to feel much of anything and this way I have of shutting people out or even rejecting them when they try to get too close was definitely pathological and indicated something a bit worse than PTSD.    Like all cluster B people, I’m all too aware of this vast black hole inside that I’ve built many layers of defense over to avoid having to confront.

So we were talking about my “many layers of defenses” and I asked him again if he had changed his mind and did he think I really had NPD.   This time, he didn’t laugh or deny it.   My heart started to hammer away and felt like it was stuck in my throat.   He stayed silent for a few moments, and finally said something that rocked me to my core.    What he said was he didn’t think I qualified for NPD, but because he knew me better now and had a clearer idea of the defensive structures I’d built over time, he thought the top layer was a narcissistic defense developed to protect myself from the pain of BPD craziness.

He went on to explain the difference between healthy narcissism and pathological narcissism.  While he thinks my healthy narcissism (self esteem) has increased (which is definitely good), he thinks my pathological narcissism is beginning to disappear.   That was good news (and I think he’s right), but his admission that I did in fact have a narcissistic defense (and therefore am on the N spectrum) just confirmed what I already knew.  Even though I’ve known it all along. hearing him say it still upset me so much I burst into tears (this was the first and only time I actually shed more than a few tears in session).   Even though I’ve come to realize not all people with narcissism–even NPD– are terrible, unredeemable people,  I still can’t help but associate the term “narcissism” with something bad and evil.   The stigma is pervasive.   Even “healthy narcissism” has a pejorative feel to it.

I tearfully asked him if he was saying this because he thought less of me than he used to and did he think I was a bad, terrible, evil person.   Was this his way of rejecting me?   Did he think I was hopeless and incurable?  My abandonment terror was definitely triggered.

He smiled sympathetically, and then assured me he absolutely did not think any of those things and his feelings toward me had not changed.   He just knew me better now and could see the way my defensive structures were arranged, which was actually a good thing because it meant he had a better idea of how to conduct our sessions.   He also told me he’d seen a lot of progress in me in the year I’ve been seeing him and that I was one of the most motivated and courageous patients he’s ever had.   “Whatever kind of defenses you have,” he told me, “it’s not a judgment against you.   I have no doubt you are going to be successful in working through them, no matter how painful things might get, because I can see that you don’t give up easily and I can see how much you desire to reconnect with your authentic self, and i can see you are already doing so.” He also told me that he saw no problems with my level of empathy, and probably even had an excess of it.

That made me feel better, but I spent a few days depressed anyway, mostly because he no longer thought I was “perfect” (as in not having a personality disorder) and even placed me on the N spectrum.   I guess that in itself shows my narcissism, because one thing I’ve noticed about myself in therapy (and that might hinder it to some degree) is that I’m always trying to “impress” my therapist with my good behavior and easy to get along with personality (charm).

I hope no one judges me for this, but I’ve never regretted being truthful here, and this is no exception.

At the end of the day, the labels are just labels and don’t define an entire person or their ability to become whole, if they want to badly enough and don’t give up the fight for wellness.

Breaking through and the emotional power of music.

breakingthrough

I can’t even begin to explain the details of what’s happening to me right now.   Saying I’m triggered would be an understatement.   Triggered?  I feel like I’m losing my fucking mind.

My therapist told me the other night that he’s been seeing changes in me — a willingness to be open and honest and connect — and he also told me he was moved by our session (he’s always saying things like that–he’s an emotional empath and that is so important to me right now).   I can’t go into specifics about what has triggered me so profoundly, but he thinks what’s happening is good, and that it means I’m approaching a big breakthrough.   He sees me trying to connect, trying so hard to access buried emotions.  But I still get so frustrated because I feel like there’s a great wall holding back the flood.  I’m so sick of being emotionally constipated.

Today the flood happened.   I could barely get through my workday because of all the crying that just came out of nowhere.      It made me mad, because although I desperately need to cry out all that shit that’s keeping me from being able to really live my life and connect with others, why can’t it happen in my therapist’s office?  Why does it always happen in some fucking inconvenient place, like while I’m at work?  I mean, at least I work alone most of the time, so that’s a plus.   But still, it makes me so mad I just want to go break a bunch of things.   Of course I don’t do that.   It’s not that I don’t have emotions, but why can’t they OBEY ME?   Why do they go into hiding whenever my therapist and I try to coax them out, and only come out when they know they’re going to shame and embarrass me?  SO annoying.

But it’s fine when it happens at home, more than fine actually. I had to choke back tears all day and wait until I got home before I could really let myself go.  I’ve always been highly responsive to music. On the radio this morning, I heard Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and starting bawling in the car.    I don’t know what it is about that song–is it the melody? The somber and sad arrangement? The lyrics?  I don’t know.  But it’s a song that always gets my faucets turned on full blast.   A lot of music does that to me.   In my recovery  journey, I’ve found music to be one of the most powerful tools  for healing and that’s why (on Lucky Otter’s Haven, mostly), I  post about music so much.

Everything triggered me today. This morning on the way to work, the lady at the convenience store where I pick up my snacks and coffee was short and rude to me today. She usually is very nice. I felt personally attacked and thought she hated me and the tears started again. Why does everyone have to be so mean? I felt as vulnerable as a de-shelled hermit crab.

I was in so much unbearable pain I finally called my therapist (something I try to avoid doing because of my fear of overstepping anyone’s boundaries, including his).  He wasn’t there but I left a message. I was nearly incoherent because I was crying so hard while trying to speak. I begged him to call me.  I didn’t hear back from him until tonight.   I felt like he was ignoring me.

When I finally got out of work, I went home and uploaded the Radiohead song and put it on speaker,  cranking it up as loud as I could make it.  And the tears started, probably a hundred of them, along with uncontrollable sobbing.  I lay on my bed crying like this for at least an hour, just letting all the pain and sadness and loneliness and emptiness wash over me and out of me.     I tried to stay mindful while this was happening, acknowledging the feelings, and observing myself as if from a distance. I realized it was good, even though I felt like I wanted to die.    I didn’t make any clear connections to a triggering event in my past, but I think it was a lot of things, just a lot of trapped pain that had to be purged.

My therapist called me finally, acknowledging my earlier, desperate message.  He apologized for not calling earlier, but he was out of service area all day.   He wasn’t ignoring me, as I had feared.    I told him about all the crying and the Radiohead song. I told him about the rude lady at the convenience store and about how I drive everyone away with my tendency to be high maintenance (or more often in recent years, reject them or be cold when they try get too close).  I talked about the excruciating emotional pain and that I felt like I was going crazy.    I talked about how alone I feel, how disconnected from other people, and all the regrets I have due to all my bad choices. I don’t want to be like that anymore!  I hate it.

But every time I try to connect with anyone, I worry that  they will wind up hating me and leave.   That’s why I avoid people. That’s why I don’t have any real friends in the physical world.   I won’t allow myself too because I think I’m too worthless and they will abandon me, the way my own family abandoned me.    My therapist reminded me that the meltdown is because my abandonment depression has been triggered.   But he also congratulated me and said that this was huge and that watching me unfold touches him.  Of course that got me bawling all over again, but this time in gratitude and happiness that someone really does care. It always surprises me when someone lets me know they do care and my feelings are valid. I’m so not used to that.  “You’re not crazy, Lauren,” he said.  “You’re breaking through and it’s supposed to hurt.”   Like a shot in the arm?

Mindfulness: balance and joy.

joy

An reader of this blog emailed me today with a question:

Do you feel you have found some kind of balance and joy in your life despite your personality disorder (BPD in my case)?

My reply:

I had to think this over a long time, because joy is an emotion that still eludes me most of the time.   I spend so much of my life wallowing in depression and anxiety, and sometimes boredom or irritation.  Joy seems like a foreign country only other people get to go to.

But I’m not a total stranger to it, not anymore.

So yes, I have, far more so than I ever did before I started all this work on myself (meditation, prayer, mindfulness, writing, and God–oh yes, and therapy!). For the first time in my life, I’m actually learning what I want, and who I am, and the mindfulness skills that always eluded me before are becoming so much easier. I haven’t raged (in an out of control, BPD way) in almost 2 years. Starting the blog got the ball rolling (and this is why I’ve been so annoyingly adamant about you writing down your feelings).

More and more, I’ve been experiencing moments–not many, but some–of pure joy. And you know what? That joy doesn’t come from good fortune, winning the Lotto, getting a new car, or people admiring you. It doesn’t come from anything from outside of you. It comes from yourself, from your true self, the one hiding in the shadows. This joy is so sublime and almost spiritual—so hard to explain. Okay, here’s a way to explain what I mean. It’s a joy that makes you feel almost like you’re limerent, only not limerent about a person but limerent about everything! Momentarily you just love everything. Maybe it’s the serotonin or dopamine or whatever, but I suppose it’s similar to an Ecstasy high. But it’s not a drug–the loving, expansive feeling is natural. It’s also spontaneous. You can’t plan for it. It just happens out of the blue, when you least expect it.

But there are things you can do that will make it more likely to happen. Do something you really enjoy. But it can’t be a passive activity,like reading or watching TV. It must involve connection of some kind, either with others or the world. There must be something you really enjoy—being with animals, being in nature by yourself, meditation, prayer, making music, painting or dancing or singing. If you’re an extrovert, be quietly with a friend. Take a long walk with them. Creativity opens the door to connection; so does quietly being with others or in nature.

You might be so overcome with pure, sublime emotion it could bring tears, especially since you seem like an emotional person to begin with–or maybe that emotion is just more accessible to you now than ever before. Use the grief you feel and paint, write about it, or sing about it. Sit and just observe what the grief (and the dissociation you’ve described) does to your body and perceptions. Give it a color or a name. Remind yourself it’s an emotion you feel, but it is NOT you. My therapist told me to imagine my feelings as things separate from myself, and that made it easier to allow me to feel them fully.

I still can’t cry in therapy not much anyway, and that annoys the crap out of me, because I want to so much. I feel like I need to sob in his arms and just have him hold me and give me the parental, nurturing love I never got when I needed it most.

I hope that helps answer your question, and I think it’s important you asked because it shows you want to embrace your authentic self, the one that connects and feels.

There should be no shame in having a Cluster B diagnosis.

noshame

Yes, another potentially controversial post.  Please hear me out before judging.

There are some (actually, many) people in the blogosphere who believe that people with disorders like Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder made some kind of conscious choice to have their disorder.   With unusual exceptions (which I’ve discussed in others posts), I think this is wrong.

Bad seeds?

People with Cluster B disorders, in spite of what you probably read or heard, aren’t inherently evil or “bad seeds.”   Certainly, some become evil, because they’ve been programmed for a psychological need to obtain narcissistic supply in order to feel like they exist.  In order to get that supply, they became abusive and manipulative.   People addicted to drugs or alcohol are also abusive and manipulative, in order to get their chemical fix.

People with psychopathy may have been born without the brain capacity to feel empathy or have a conscience, but I don’t think Psychopathy should even be categorized as a Cluster B disorder at all, since it seems to have its roots more in brain chemistry than in early trauma.   Plenty of psychopaths came from normal, loving families.  The jury’s out as to whether Antisocial Personality Disorder is the same thing as psychopathy.  I think they may coincide often and their symptoms are similar, but I’m not at all sure they’re the same thing.    I don’t know a whole lot about ASPD, but I think it, too, usually has its roots in trauma as a child.   I know almost nothing about its treatability, but it’s my understanding it’s very difficult to treat, even more so than NPD.    But I digress:  talking about ASPD or psychopathy is not the point of this post.

Another blogger who commented on a post of mine today mentioned that she may have undiagnosed, recovered BPD.   I sensed from the tone of her admission that this might be something she’s  ashamed to admit.   I wondered why.   BPD, like NPD, has a terrible stigma, although in its favor, there’s a movement in the BPD community to reduce its stigma as “evil” and “incurable.”    Their efforts seem to be working, because BPD is seen today as being less of a “mark of the beast” than NPD is, although the stigma certainly still exists.

Why no anti-stigma movement for NPD?

I’m not sure why there is no grass-roots movement among narcissists to change the stigma against NPD, but from everything I’ve read from self-aware narcissists (and you’d be surprised how many of them there are online), they’re either: (a) proud that they are narcissists and wear the “evil” stigma like a badge of honor (these tend to be malignant, overt narcissists with antisocial or sociopathic traits), or (b) *this is a shocker* so ashamed of their narcissism that although they hate the stigma, they seem resigned to it and and seem to hang their heads in shame, quietly accepting how “bad” they are.  “I deserve it,” they say.   It may seem hard to believe, but some of them even defend the narc-haters.  Remember we are talking about self-aware narcissists.  Most narcs never get to that point.   Their grandiosity keeps them from having enough insight to do that.

Ego-dystonic vs. ego-syntonic.

Because people with BPD are almost always ego-dystonic about their disorder (they aren’t happy with themselves), and because generally BPD doesn’t lend itself to self-delusions  (in other words, having a false self) the way NPD does, BPD has a higher cure rate than NPD,  which also helps reduce its stigma.    NPD is usually more ego-syntonic, but not always.  Narcissists who are ego-dystonic (usually covert narcissists) tend to be frustrated, lonely, and depressed, and although they can be highly manipulative, entitled acting, and lack empathy, they lack the grandiosity and false pride that keeps them stuck in the delusion that their narcissism has worked for them.

I don’t see a whole lot of difference between BPD and C-PTSD.  Actually, BPD is like C-PTSD on steroids.  I’ve written about this subject before–the symptoms of both are nearly identical, and both Borderlines and people with C-PTSD are very prone to become codependent to malignant or overt narcissists.   They are also prone to self-harm, wild mood swings, and are sometimes suicide risks.  People with C-PTSD–especially women–often get slapped with the stigmatizing BPD label simply because the DSM doesn’t recognize C-PTSD as a legitimate disorder (and PTSD, while similar, applies more to those who suffered a single, intense trauma rather than the victims of chronic, long term abuse starting in childhood, so the treatments for someone with PTSD would be different).

Moving back to narcissism…

Many people believe NPD cannot be successfully treated, much less cured.   I admit I’m skeptical about its curability, though I do know there have been a few cases where it’s happened.   I also know there are narcissists who are ego-dystonic and unhappy with what they’ve become, once they realize they are narcissists.   I don’t think the adage that “if you think you have NPD, then you don’t” is necessarily true.    I have met a few here and on forums who desperately want to change their behaviors, usually because they’ve realized that they’ve missed out on things like knowing how to love and receive love, or having a healthy relationship with their spouse or children.   They want to know what love and vulnerability in a relationship feels like.  They want to know what real joy and empathy feels like.   They forgot how.   They’ve come to realize their lives are empty and shallow, and they are constantly under the stress of always having to act a part in a play.   They forgot who they were a long time ago.   Most narcissists did not have happy childhoods and most had parents who either abused or spoiled them (spoiling is a form of abuse because it fails to mirror who the child actually is, so the “love” they get is conditional).

As a mental illness.

I’m in no way defending narcissists or the way they act.   But as a cluster B disorder,  it started as a defense mechanism to cope with unbearable pain and feelings of emptiness. Many people believe narcissists love themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth.  They only love their false self.  Scratch any narcissist and you find a person who doesn’t even know who they are.  BPD is much the same that way, except Borderlines don’t have a functional or strong false self.    I’m not suggesting sympathizing with active, unrepentant narcissists or condoning their toxic behaviors. I’m not suggesting staying with one either!   But I think the stigma against NPD has hurt those people with the disorder who sincerely want to change.  These people do exist!  I don’t think they’re lying when they say they want to become non-narcissists–why would they? What would be their motive in doing so?   Much as with people with BPD, therapists refuse to treat them, insurance won’t cover them, and they are frequently demonized as non-human creatures or worse.

Maybe the treatment rate for NPD is so abysmal because they are given up on so easily by therapists who lose patience with someone who doesn’t show immediate improvement or acts aggressively or in a confrontational way.    NPD is a very difficult disorder to treat, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.  Even if a narcissist can’t be cured, CBT and other mindfulness therapies have had good results on some narcissists who really want to change the way they treat others and have more mutually fulfilling relationships.  DBT (dialectical behavioral training), a mindfulness therapy similar to CBT traditionally used on people with BPD, has also been shown to be effective on some people with NPD.

As a Borderline myself (my therapist thinks I’m recovered, but I’m not at all sure about that), and having personally experienced the stigma against Cluster B, I have a great deal of empathy for anyone with a Cluster B disorder who is self aware and genuinely sorry about the way they’ve treated others or the choices they’ve made, and who sincerely wants to do the hard work needed to make changes in themselves.   People with Cluster B disorders didn’t choose to become that way; like people with C-PTSD, they have a mental illness caused by trauma and C-PTSD is almost always at the core of any cluster B disorder.

While it’s true that some will never get to the point of self awareness or even if they do, may not be interested in finding new and better ways of relating to others and the world, there are many who do, and we shouldn’t judge them or hate them just because of their stigmatic diagnosis (and the diagnosis could be wrong anyway!).  That’s why I don’t run a “narc free” blog.  I allow and even encourage people with Cluster B diagnoses–including NPD–to post comments here and share their experiences along with others who do not have those disorders and were abused by people who do.  As long as they remain civil, respectful, and add to the conversation, they are always welcome here. Hell, I even started Down The Rabbit Hole because I thought I had Covert NPD. I’ve probably confused the hell out of everyone who reads this blog, but I was pretty confused myself.