Do we need a new approach to personality disorders?

a portrait of Ellie

Ellie’s mother sadly passed away after taking her own life. Having been failed by the care system, Ellie feels the need to speak out about why the demonisation of people suffering with Cluster B personality disorders is wrong.

The causes of personality disorders are not entirely known, but continue to be researched.

Those who struggle with having Cluster Bs are usually described as dramatic and impulsive, unpredictable and selfish. These disorders can come in forms of anti-social (ASPD), borderline (BPD), histrionic (HPD), and narcissistic (NPD).

These are probably the most strenuously researched of personality disorders, not only by psychiatrists, but by ordinary people living lives that have been affected by those they consider to have some traits.

“Talking about red flags, gaslighting and manipulation is how we can remove the veil in which these abusers operate and end the cycle,” says Jane*, creator of @ending.the.cycle on Instagram.

“We can’t not be toxic. It can be super difficult, people who don’t know anything about BPD automatically assume you’re this horrible person, when matter of fact, we’re just very lost.”

“Social media gave me a platform to speak my stories as they shaped who I am today and are an integral part of how the cycle in itself will and has to end with me.”

But the truth might be much more complicated than we give it credit for.

Though there is no excuse for physical and emotional abuse, this podcasts reflects on why it’s important to get to the bottom of what causes personality disorders in the first place, and how passing judgement might only make things worse.

BPD and NPD can be caused by an array of different aspects, such as genetics (history of mental illness in the family), sexual violence, brain chemicals and development, environmental factors, abandonment issues and parental neglect.

“Growing up in the system and not having someone able to see how my mental health was for two years made it very difficult for them to pin point me having a personality disorder instead of it just being a mental illness,” Ellie says.

Selfie of Ellie in her room

Ellie was diagnosed with BPD at eighteen [Instagram: Ellie]

She also highlights how she thinks that relying on waiting lists and a crippled NHS has made her do her own research: “I ended up finding my own community, and reading books and learning about how other people with BPD cope and manage and live everyday.

“One of the positives I have found is that I am very much a giver. I love, love, love seeing people happy and living in their blissful moments. I think it’s something that helps me feel better about myself, knowing that I’m around that energy, instead of being swarmed by my negative thoughts.”

It seems that narcissism, perhaps much more vilified than the traits that come with BPD, has elements of self-hatred and doubt.

“I’m not diagnosed with NPD, but I am BPD with narcissistic traits. I’ve changed a lot over the past couple years, but thinking back to the turbulent chaotic being I used to be fills me with self hatred,” said one Reddit user in a support thread.

“I feel like for the first time in my life I’m finally sober, and as painful as that is, I’m also very grateful to finally be free. I grew up in a broken home with a narcissistic father and and a bipolar mother,” they added.

“Honestly, I don’t wanna be numb or be a compulsive liar and not feel real emotions. It’s so boring and kinda just pointless. I know if I ask this question to empaths they’ll probably be horrified, but honestly I’ve been wanting to die for a long time to a point where I can’t even think of how much it’ll hurt my family, that’s also probably why I want to die even more,” says another Redditor.

What is this new fascination with personality disorders online, and where are we going wrong?

In this short podcast, we look at both angles on what it means to suffer from the pain that personality disorders can induce, but also how it can feel if someone is in a relationship with somebody who might  be described as “toxic”.

 

 

* Some names have been changed at the request of the interviewee


Featured Image by Bettina via Instagram.
Edited by Jussi Grut.

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