Personality Disorders: Know Your Future Spouse (an article)


#1

The article is a call for a discerning courtship before deciding whether to marry someone. See
www.catholicsun.org/views/jim-asher/060111.html


#2

Please read this all people, young and not so young, who consider themselves eligible for marriage!

Once you are “stuck with” someone with a personality disorder you have them for life (even if you eventually divorce), and there is almost no possibility of them changing (except for worse).

Some points I would highlight from the article:

  • Someone with a personality disorder will usually conceal it while they are trying to attract a spouse
  • Any little warning sign is the just the tip of the iceberg
  • Sexual activity (even non-intercourse) will cloud one’s judgement

Two points I would add:

  • “Normal” people find it inconcievable just how bad a personality disorder can be, until they suffer at the hands of someone (a spouse, or a boss). eg. a “normal” person would consider that if a husband and wife make an agreement to do something (eg. take the family to the beach on Sunday) that one of them would arbitrarily, at the last minute, decide not to go, and that nobody else is going either.

  • Don’t be decieved by any religious, or other moral inclinations, of someone. A personality disorder can well have a fierce religious or moral sense - but it only exhibits itself in what it imposes on other people, not itself.

  • The surest sign to spot is how the person treats other people. There’s a very good saying “Someone who is rude to the waiter, and nice to you, is not a nice person”. Do they give to charity? Are they forgiving? Do they criticise and gossip? All of these faults will eventually be turned on you, in spades.


#3

An excellent article, thanks for posting it


#4

What a terrific article and great info for anyone dating or considering marriage. So true.


#5

Thanks for posting this. Good info–for discerning friendships and marriages.


#6

Interesting article.
However, its difficult to navigate in this world.
We are told we shouldn't be waiting for prince charming, and indeed setting too high standards, especially for women, often ends with a life of loneliness.
At the same time we are warned that 9 percent of the population are not marriage material.. at the same time we often hear condemnation of people who are unwilling or unable to commit...

As I said, its difficult to know how perfectionist we are allowed to be when searching for mr right. I suspect men have it easier.


#7

[quote="GraceDK, post:6, topic:244270"]
Interesting article.
However, its difficult to navigate in this world.
We are told we shouldn't be waiting for prince charming, and indeed setting too high standards, especially for women, often ends with a life of loneliness.
At the same time we are warned that 9 percent of the population are not marriage material.. at the same time we often hear condemnation of people who are unwilling or unable to commit...

As I said, its difficult to know how perfectionist we are allowed to be when searching for mr right. I suspect men have it easier.

[/quote]


I had never really thought about --actually waiting for a prince charming -- until I read some threads here. I guess my view is when one meets another --- get to know them -- the the person may turn out to be the prince charming. It may not be evident right off the bat -- but given time --the prince charming may emerge.


#8

[quote="GraceDK, post:6, topic:244270"]
Interesting article.
However, its difficult to navigate in this world.
We are told we shouldn't be waiting for prince charming, and indeed setting too high standards, especially for women, often ends with a life of loneliness.
At the same time we are warned that 9 percent of the population are not marriage material.. at the same time we often hear condemnation of people who are unwilling or unable to commit...

As I said, its difficult to know how perfectionist we are allowed to be when searching for mr right. I suspect men have it easier.

[/quote]

Not really.


#9

I have great hope for you.
- Don't focus on agnostic women, hang around communities and groups of believers
- Don't hide away behind a work-desk or in your room, by the internet. Go out and join things. Believe me, I know many Catholic women and they are not superficial.. I really think you will be fine.


#10

[quote="Edmundus1581, post:2, topic:244270"]
Please read this all people, young and not so young, who consider themselves eligible for marriage!

Once you are "stuck with" someone with a personality disorder you have them for life (even if you eventually divorce), and there is almost no possibility of them changing (except for worse).

Some points I would highlight from the article:
**
- Someone with a personality disorder will usually conceal it while they are trying to attract a spouse
- Any little warning sign is the just the tip of the iceberg
- Sexual activity (even non-intercourse) will cloud one's judgement**

Two points I would add:

  • "Normal" people find it inconcievable just how bad a personality disorder can be, until they suffer at the hands of someone (a spouse, or a boss). eg. a "normal" person would consider that if a husband and wife make an agreement to do something (eg. take the family to the beach on Sunday) that one of them would arbitrarily, at the last minute, decide not to go, and that nobody else is going either.

  • Don't be decieved by any religious, or other moral inclinations, of someone. A personality disorder can well have a fierce religious or moral sense - but it only exhibits itself in what it imposes on other people, not itself.

  • The surest sign to spot is how the person treats other people. There's a very good saying "Someone who is rude to the waiter, and nice to you, is not a nice person". Do they give to charity? Are they forgiving? Do they criticise and gossip? All of these faults will eventually be turned on you, in spades.

[/quote]

So, so true. Sexual intimacy before marriage is a HUGE contributing factor in the divorce rate. At some point, the spell wears off, and someone recognizes "I would not have actually chosen this person if I'd been thinking straight."


#11

No offense but this is a load of discriminatory bull.

  1. Not all psychologically defined "personality disorders" are that bad. IE, someone who likes a perfect house and keeps to a rigid schedule has a "ocd personality disorder" but they are not rude, manipulative etc. I have a relative with it, and while there are things I dislike about her, she is in her late 50s and has made a good wife and excellent mother.

  2. The article seems to miss the point that just being a nasty person or "negative nelly" is not the same thing as having a personality disorder. A huge point to miss. Nobody wants to marry a negative nelly, and a lot of people are blinded by love, but that doesn't have anything to do with what DSM defines as personality disorders (if they even have solid definitions cause last I looked it's hotly in debate as to whether they are of any use at all!).

  3. Saying there is little to no hope they can change is also very untrue. I have read about BPD (borderline personality disorder) which is probably the worst one. MOST people who have it level out by middle age. If you ask me it's all traits of being a troubled youth anyway, and that person eventually learns to grow up.


#12

[quote="Christian4life, post:11, topic:244270"]
No offense but this is a load of discriminatory bull.

  1. Not all psychologically defined "personality disorders" are that bad. IE, someone who likes a perfect house and keeps to a rigid schedule has a "ocd personality disorder" but they are not rude, manipulative etc. I have a relative with it, and while there are things I dislike about her, she is in her late 50s and has made a good wife and excellent mother.

  2. The article seems to miss the point that just being a nasty person or "negative nelly" is not the same thing as having a personality disorder. A huge point to miss. Nobody wants to marry a negative nelly, and a lot of people are blinded by love, but that doesn't have anything to do with what DSM defines as personality disorders (if they even have solid definitions cause last I looked it's hotly in debate as to whether they are of any use at all!).

  3. Saying there is little to no hope they can change is also very untrue. I have read about BPD (borderline personality disorder) which is probably the worst one. MOST people who have it level out by middle age. If you ask me it's all traits of being a troubled youth anyway, and that person eventually learns to grow up.

[/quote]

Thank you for your first sentence in #3, but there is more to it than growing up. It is learning how to trust in a world that was previously unsafe.

My daughter has borderline personality disorder, according to one diagnosis. The other is PTSD comorbid with RAD (reactive attachment disorder). One doctor says that DSM IV going to DSM V is phasing out RAD and another doctor says only juveniles can be diagnosed with RAD so when the minor child becomes the age of majority the diagnosis changes from RAD to personality disorder.

Due to fault entirely on another person, my daughter was mentally scarred for life in early childhood. Now she is manipulative, deceitful, self-centered and negative. She is also exceedlingly polite, charming, helpful, nurturing and loving. She has a great sense of humor. She is one of the hardest working teenagers I have ever met. She has a deep and devout faith in God. And then at times she refuses to believe in God, refuses to read the bible, and refuses to attend youth group.

I worry about her ability to be a wife and a mother and I have even talked to 2 of her somewhat serious boyfriends about her challenging mental illness. But there is hope and with a loving husband, I believe that she can be a loving wife and mother. However if in a negative and abusive relationship, who knows what could click and disaster strike.

I wish that people who do not have a real life experience with a person with mental illness would refrain from speculation on the cause or the outcome.


#13

[quote="larsenl1, post:12, topic:244270"]
Thank you for your first sentence in #3, but there is more to it than growing up. It is learning how to trust in a world that was previously unsafe.

My daughter has borderline personality disorder, according to one diagnosis. The other is PTSD comorbid with RAD (reactive attachment disorder). One doctor says that DSM IV going to DSM V is phasing out RAD and another doctor says only juveniles can be diagnosed with RAD so when the minor child becomes the age of majority the diagnosis changes from RAD to personality disorder.

Due to fault entirely on another person, my daughter was mentally scarred for life in early childhood. Now she is manipulative, deceitful, self-centered and negative. She is also exceedlingly polite, charming, helpful, nurturing and loving. She has a great sense of humor. She is one of the hardest working teenagers I have ever met. She has a deep and devout faith in God. And then at times she refuses to believe in God, refuses to read the bible, and refuses to attend youth group.

I worry about her ability to be a wife and a mother and I have even talked to 2 of her somewhat serious boyfriends about her challenging mental illness. But there is hope and with a loving husband, I believe that she can be a loving wife and mother. However if in a negative and abusive relationship, who knows what could click and disaster strike.

I wish that people who do not have a real life experience with a person with mental illness would refrain from speculation on the cause or the outcome.

[/quote]

I have a dear friend with BPD, she too was severely traumatized through no fault of her own. I do believe the outlook is very very good for her and other people. She does not always have the best attitude but she is a loving and caring mother and incredibly productive and creative. I don't like to see people being discriminated against just because they have more to deal with in their lives than other people do. A person who is commited and truly loves the other person can help to heal them by proving that it IS safe to trust again. My friend was raped repeatedly and that is not an easy or a quick thing to get over, but she has friends and family who love her deeply and I believe is living a close to normal life now.


#14

[quote="GraceDK, post:9, topic:244270"]
I have great hope for you.
- Don't focus on agnostic women, hang around communities and groups of believers
- Don't hide away behind a work-desk or in your room, by the internet. Go out and join things. Believe me, I know many Catholic women and they are not superficial.. I really think you will be fine.

[/quote]

Thanks, Grace. Right now the desk/online thing is a major one due to the fact I'm currently a "business" with proud "offices" in my bedroom. Not that I can't meet people through the Internet, but profiles with photos and words just don't do it on me, or do so to a limited extent. I guess I've got to meet someone in a natural way... including even some Internet environment, but not really an actual dating site. Same as any sort of offline dating service wouldn't work for me. So yeah, going out...


#15

[quote="Christian4life, post:13, topic:244270"]
I have a dear friend with BPD, she too was severely traumatized through no fault of her own. I do believe the outlook is very very good for her and other people. She does not always have the best attitude but she is a loving and caring mother and incredibly productive and creative. I don't like to see people being discriminated against just because they have more to deal with in their lives than other people do. A person who is commited and truly loves the other person can help to heal them by proving that it IS safe to trust again. My friend was raped repeatedly and that is not an easy or a quick thing to get over, but she has friends and family who love her deeply and I believe is living a close to normal life now.

[/quote]

Giving a person coping skills to deal with situations that trigger a bad behavior is not discrimination, nor is counseling the other person in the relationship. I'm not sure what you intended in saying that but in a forum where tone of voice and facial expressions cannot be ascertained, I wonder if you think it unfair for a parent to try to teach the child and protect them from potentially dangerous situations.

A person with a broken leg gets a pair of crutches to assist with mobility. I don't see accommodations made for my daughter as anything but a way to assist her navigate day to day activities. Without our supervision, she "chats" with strangers on the internet (some in Turkey and Syria) and freely gives out personal information, for example. So requiring that teachers in the public school absolutely not allow her to use the internet for any reason is not discrimination, it is simply wise.

Sorry if I am over-reacting but I am sensitive to this and so many people are judgmental without knowing a complete history. Even my daughter's friends do not know everything.


#16

[quote="Christian4life, post:13, topic:244270"]
A person who is commited and truly loves the other person can help to heal them by proving that it IS safe to trust again.

[/quote]

And it takes much more than love. It takes medication, more than one, and individual therapy and family therapy.

The rule of thumb is that for every year of abuse, trauma, or neglect, there is at least two years of healing.

I pray that your friend received professional help in addition to loving family and friends.


#17

[quote="larsenl1, post:16, topic:244270"]
And it takes much more than love. It takes medication, more than one, and individual therapy and family therapy.

The rule of thumb is that for every year of abuse, trauma, or neglect, there is at least two years of healing.

I pray that your friend received professional help in addition to loving family and friends.

[/quote]

More than one medication? Really? That is your opinion. I believe counseling is enough, as long as the counselor is skilled. It can take years of therapy or it can take months. It depends on several different factors. There is no one size fits all answer.


#18

[quote="Christian4life, post:17, topic:244270"]
More than one medication? Really? That is your opinion. I believe counseling is enough, as long as the counselor is skilled. It can take years of therapy or it can take months. It depends on several different factors. There is no one size fits all answer.

[/quote]

NOT MY OPINION but the opinion of more than one psychiatrist and psychologist, a handful of social workers. MY 16 YEAR OLD daughter had to be placed in a residential psychiatric mental institute for children because my husband and I could not keep her safe in our own home.

Okay how would you handle a child with hallucinations (both visual and auditory)? Who talks to her dead mother and has nightmares and walks in her sleep? Have you ever put out Captain Crunch on the floor so you could be woke up if your daughter tried to walk out the front door in the freezing cold in her pajamas in the middle of the night?

Is counseling enough? How much counseling before she stops talking to a dead person? How many nights and days do you trade of with your husband keeping a 24 hour vigil to keep her alive before you think that medication is okay?

I think that the psychiatrist who prescribed the anti-psychotic that allows her to sleep without nightmares and that stopped the voice in her head that she thought was her dead mother and the anti-depressant that keeps her from cutting her skin and refusing to eat is probably more in tune with what helps my daughter than you are.


#19

And what does that person get out of the process, while the mentally ill person is still mentally ill? (I’m assuming that there is someone who can actually be healed from these disorders, which I do not necessarily believe.) To be a savior to someone, to have that person forever in debt because you sacrificed so much to help them? That’s as sick as the person who is diagnosed with mental illness.

I have done my clinical work (not professional, but through hard experience) in NPD. I can tell you that someone who is NPD and/or sociopathic is about 95% certain NOT to ever change. They feel no need to change. They might go to therapy, in order to charm the therapist into agreeing with them that they are the sane one and the spouse who is healthy is the sick one. And not infrequently, this works! Medications might be handed out to the non-NPD spouse, for the depression that tends to come along with trying to love someone who can only love his or her own image. Trying to squeeze love from these people is like trying to squeeze water from a stone. And as you try to do that, they suck you dry in the process.

Also, I have done a lot of reading on Attachment Disorder (yes I missed my calling, should have been a psychologist - “abnormals” fascinate me). There have been many attempts to rehabilitate such individuals, especially traumatized orphans from other countries such as Russia. It seems to be impossible. The time for bonding in any normal way has long since passed and the inner personality structures for true intimacy were not built. Some things are not curable with therapy, no matter how earnestly the therapist works. And there are no medications which will magically give these people empathy. It’s hugely tragic.

I hope your friend does heal. Borderlines are not well understood and there may be some hope but I am not an optimist when it comes to people’s mental health. I would advise my sons to keep their eyes open and their hands in their pockets, so as not to minimize any “quirks” that they see when they are dating to discern marriage.


#20

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:19, topic:244270"]
And what does that person get out of the process, while the mentally ill person is still mentally ill? (I'm assuming that there is someone who can actually be healed from these disorders, which I do not necessarily believe.) To be a savior to someone, to have that person forever in debt because you sacrificed so much to help them? That's as sick as the person who is diagnosed with mental illness.

I have done my clinical work (not professional, but through hard experience) in NPD. I can tell you that someone who is NPD and/or sociopathic is about 95% certain NOT to ever change. They feel no need to change. They might go to therapy, in order to charm the therapist into agreeing with them that they are the sane one and the spouse who is healthy is the sick one. And not infrequently, this works! Medications might be handed out to the non-NPD spouse, for the depression that tends to come along with trying to love someone who can only love his or her own image. Trying to squeeze love from these people is like trying to squeeze water from a stone. And as you try to do that, they suck you dry in the process.

Also, I have done a lot of reading on Attachment Disorder (yes I missed my calling, should have been a psychologist - "abnormals" fascinate me). There have been many attempts to rehabilitate such individuals, especially traumatized orphans from other countries such as Russia. It seems to be impossible. The time for bonding in any normal way has long since passed and the inner personality structures for true intimacy were not built. Some things are not curable with therapy, no matter how earnestly the therapist works. And there are no medications which will magically give these people empathy. It's hugely tragic.

I hope your friend does heal. Borderlines are not well understood and there may be some hope but I am not an optimist when it comes to people's mental health. I would advise my sons to keep their eyes open and their hands in their pockets, so as not to minimize any "quirks" that they see when they are dating to discern marriage.

[/quote]

Well said.

As a parent adopting an orphan from Russia, we knew there would be problems we just were not sure exactly how it would be day to day. But we did 'volunteer' and so I guess I do not see us as saviors and that she should be forever in debt. My reward will be if she can be independent and have a healthy marriage. I don't want to find in on a cold metal table in a morgue because she made one too many bad decisions and risky behavior.

I hope my daughter can heal or at least learn to be social. The latest research on attachment by Dr. Bruce Perry shows that sometimes with proper intervention the neurons can be built even in older children. That is what I am hoping for while we have her on medication to keep her safe in the meantime.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.