Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder… there are so many fucked up people out there and diagnosing them is typically a matter for the experts. That said, after dealing with one sociopath, a couple narcissists, and former lover with BPD, I’ve noticed certain patterns began to emerge between all of them. They’re what I call the Secondary Traits of the Personality Disordered (or PD for short).

Below you’ll find a list an explanation of what I consider to be the Secondary Traits of the PD. I’ve shared them here in hopes of helping you determine whether that charming yet difficult person in your life is just a garden variety asshole or someone harboring a deeper, much darker secret. If the person you know displays two or more of these traits, chances are you’re dealing with someone with a personality disorder or PD for short. Read on…

Assumption of Authority
PDs by their very nature are authoritarian people and much has already been written on this. What I’ll focus upon is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” Simply put, the personality disordered tend to automatically assume that they are the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In their minds, the matter has already been decided – if you’re going to have a relationship with them, it’s going to be by their rules because according to them, that’s just the way it is.

Because of the damage done to them in the past, these people are fanatical in their belief that they must remain in control of everyone and everything in their lives; it’s the only way to think they can prevent themselves from being hurt.

Assertion of Authority
Once authority in their relationships is assumed, it must be asserted, hence the second of the PD’s secondary traits. It’s not enough that they believe they’re in control, it’s of primary importance to them that you know and recognize that they are in control. And the way that they assert their authority typically follows a rather insidious pattern that starts out with small statements and gestures – you need to do this, don’t do that – early in the game. Sadly, many people don’t understand these early warning signs.

All too often, the other person in the relationship often laughs off or explains away the PD’s Assertions of Authority. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar: “Oh, he didn’t mean it that way.” Or this: “You don’t know him/her like I do.” If not put in check, the PD becomes emboldened and quickly escalates his/her assertions of authority until they are too egregious to ignore, such as demanding people change their lifestyles, relationships, and beliefs to suit the PD. Having not put the PD in check during the early stages of assertion, the other person often finds it difficult to reason with the PD or escape the relationships once his/her Assertions are at full blast.

Social/Moral Blind Spot
Most of us operate under the assumption that it’s generally good to be polite to people we meet in our day-to-day lives in hopes being treated in a similar fashion. It’s a basic social contract of sorts that’s meant to prevent our world from becoming a chaotic free-for-all of rape, robbery, violence, and murder. Because of their Social/Moral Blind Spot, the personality-disordered have no concept of this unspoken agreement between people in a polite and civilized society. Instead, the PD believes that he/she is owed civil conduct from others while simultaneously not being constrained by the expectations of society themselves.

The Social/Moral Blind Spot is likely an extension of the PD’s Assumption/Assertion of Authority complexes, as the PD will often treat others harshly and with no regard to the consequences of this behavior. Worse yet, all efforts to discuss this behavior with them will fail due to the PD’s stubborn insistence that he/she is entitled and even obligated to behave this way for their own protection and advancement of their interests, etc.

Singularity of Boundaries
To the personality-disordered, their personal boundaries are sacrosanct and they will guard them with a vehemence that’s downright violent. In layman’s terms, you can’t ask about their lives, touch any of their belongings, accidentally brush up against them, or do anything else that they interpret as an intrusion into their personal space. Even a simple question such as, “Did you go to the gas station today?” could be considered an infringement and cause them to fly into a rage.

The biggest problem with this outlook is that it’s highly singular, meaning that the only boundaries that the PD respects and/or recognizes are their own. And as jealously as he/she will guard against those who trespass against them, they will equally trample over the boundaries, rights, and privacy of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their lives. Reading other people’s mail, listening to their phone calls, and searching through – and using – their personal belongings are all fair game to the PD.

Force Majeure
The French term meaning “superior force,” Force Majeure is the best way to describe how the PD goes about irrationally imposing his/her will onto others. If there’s one thing all these secondary traits have in common, it’s the sense of grandiosity that accompanies and fuels them. Doing onto others while simultaneously expecting them to treat you with kid gloves is absolutely unrealistic and perhaps, deep down inside, the PD realizes this. Sooner or later, friends/loved ones/business associates will begin to question the unrealistically selfish nature of the PD’s expectations and to the PD, this comes across as extremely confrontational.

The only possible way for the PD to maintain the irrational inequalities of their expectations is to enforce them with violence or the threat of violence. In personal relationships/friendships, this can often mean physical violence. i.e. Force Majeure or the greater force. The PD’s basic assertion is that because they believe themselves to be physically superior to their victims, this is enough for their victims to comply with the PD’s demands; right or wrong is of no consequence. In the case of business relationships, the PD’s expectations are often enforced via implied or threatened termination of employment/contract/business relationship, which is still considered Force Majeure.

In Conclusion…
As previously stated, there are several types of personality disorders, each with their own unique set of traits and ways in which these traits manifest themselves. To further complicate matters, many of these traits overlap each other, adding more confusion to exactly what might be afflicting your friend/family member/spouse/partner/etc. Further, while I’ve had experience with people I’ve suspected of having personality disorders, I’m by no means a licensed expert. If the secondary traits I’ve listed above describe someone you’re currently involved with, seek professional help and plan a safe and effective exit strategy.

One thing I can tell you – and this will be backed up by professionals in the field – the personality disordered person in your life WILL NOT change and WILL NOT get better. In fact, things will continue to get worse. I urge anyone currently enmeshed with a PD to seek the help they need as soon as possible.

Stay safe, good people.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] night, I put up a post about what I believe are the secondary traits of the personality disordered. In it, I identified […]

  2. Lee Johnson says:

    This is one of the best treatments I’ve seen of this topic. It happens to be timely for me. I have a sister who I always thought was troubled, but now see as personality disordered. She has all five traits, but she doesn’t use physical force, just whatever force she has. I think she’s NPD/BPD. It explains a lot.

    This article is unique in that the characteristics stated are true, but not the ones normally associated with PDs. I’m sorry that you’ve learned these lessons the hard way, but I am appreciative that there is recognition.

    • johnribner13 says:

      Ever try explaining to the average person that their parents/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/boss is a narcissist/sociopath/borderline/etc.? You’ll get a blank and vacuous stare and a stock reply of, “Oh, I don’t think he/she is THAT bad.” This is because most people hear the words “personality disordered and assumes straight jackets and rubber rooms. They don’t seem to understand that the majority of personality disordered people LIVE AMONG US! I wrote this post in hopes of reaching someone… anyone… and getting them to reevaluate their dysfunctional relationship(s). Thanks for the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s