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Evil and personality disorders

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Last year a man in San Luis Obispo, California stabbed a teacher in the neck while she was supervising her students on a playground. The children watched in horror as she died on the asphalt. The man who killed her was the father of her grandchildren. His motive? She had custody of his kids who he believed should be with him. In his sick and twisted mind he decided that he was the victim and the grandmother deserved what she got. Like a rock thrown into a lake that creates widening concentric circles the impact of the murder traveled out to the immediate family and school staff, the traumatized children and their families, a shocked, grieving community, and finally anyone reading about the incident who has relatives who are "not right in the head." It is easy to project and ask, "Could that happen to me if I take a stand that angers him?"

The total selfishness, passion for revenge, and lack of conscience are indicative of narcissism (a personality disorder), and that combination is downright dangerous. Malignant narcissism is defined as a persistent pattern of doing evil without repentance or remorse.

Most people with personality disorders are savvy enough to wreak havoc in a way that won't put them in prison, but the damage they do to relationships and the emotional well-being of those around them is incalculable. M.R.I.'s of brains of those with personality disorders show patterns that are not normal in the areas of self-soothing, empathy, and flexible thinking. They must win at all costs and be right at all times. They love things and use people. Indeed, they “thingify” people. Their victims are only a tool for their gratification. In 2004 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 14.8% of the US population meets the criteria to be diagnosed with at least one personality disorder from a sample of more than 43,000 interviewees. This study did not include Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorders. For those numbers we go to a 2008 NIH study that found that 5.9% of the US population has BPD and 6.2% have NPD. Because some people fit in both diagnoses, about 10% of the population has BPD, NPD, or both disorders.

It is hard to spot someone who is personality disordered at the beginning of a relationship or friendship. They are consummate charmers and attentive listeners (they are gathering data to use against you later). They text and call constantly, bring you flowers and beautiful gifts, take you to memorable places. All of it is flattering if unnerving. Everything you love to do he/she loves to do. What a coincidence! Actually it is no coincidence at all. The disordered person has no personality and is simply mimicking you to ensnare you. It feels like it is all happening too fast. No wonder the behavior is called love bombing. It is hard to get away or to even want to. Once they believe that they "have" you Mr. Hyde comes out in full force: the rages, the lies, the manipulations, the crazy making. Personality disorders are ultimately brain disorders that currently are not curable. You will not be able to make this work between the two of you. The longer you stay in it the more you will become a shell of a person. The only answer is to get out now, immediately. If you need help in extricating yourself from the drama and control here is a Web site of therapists in the Dayton area: http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/OH/Dayton.html

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