Don E. Gibbons, Ph.D., NJ Licensed Psychologist #03513
This Blog is published for information and educational purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, is furnished with respect to the material contained in this Blog. The reader is urged to consult with his/her physician or a duly licensed mental health professional with respect to the treatment of any medical or psychological condition.

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The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC

The New Center for Counseling and Psychotherapy, LLC, is located at 675 Route 72 E, Manahawkin, NJ 08050,
Telephone (609)709-2043 and (609) 494-0009.

Driving directions: Take Mill Creek Road South, just off Route 72 E After about 400 feet, turn right into the office complex of Mill Creek Commons.Then, immedately turn right again and go past the Lyceum II Gym. Continue on to the Prudential Zack Building,which will be the only building on your right. We are the last office at the end.

We accept Medicare and most other major insurance.
We do not accept credit or debit cards.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Overcoming Negativie Autouggestions from your "Inner Hypnotist"

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The psychologist Albert Ellis has put together a list of ten commonly held beliefs which are all false, but which many of us have are inclined to accept, at least occasionally, If they are not identified and specifically eliminated ahead of time, these negative beliefs can function as deeply-rooted autosugestions which may cause the hypnotist's positive suggestions to be rejected without either the hypnotist or the client knowing why. Since many clients are able to recognize these negative beliefs about themselves if they are specifically asked about them, I frequently go over this list with them before their initial hypnosis session: 

I must be perfect in all respects in order to be worthwhile. Many people are haunted by the nagging fear that "something is wrong with them." Nobody can be perfect in everything that we have to do in life. But if you believe that you're a failure unless you are perfect in every way, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of unhappiness.

I must be loved and approved of by everyone who is important to me. Sometimes you just can't help making enemies, and there are people in the world who bear ill will to almost everyone. But you can't make your own life miserable by trying to please them.

When people treat me unfairly, it is because they are bad people. Most of the people who treat youunfairly have friends and family who love them. People are mixtures of good and bad.

It is terrible when I am seriously frustrated, treated badly, or rejected. Some people have such a short fuse that they can are constantly losing jobs or endangering friendships because they are unable to endure the slightest frustration.

Misery comes from outside forces which I can’t do very much to change. Many prison inmates describe their life as if it were a cork, bobbing up and down on waves of circumstance.

If something is dangerous or fearful, I have to worry about it. Many people believe that "the work of worrying" will help to make problems go away: "Okay, that's over. Now, what's the next thing on the list that I have to worry about?"

It is easier to avoid life’s difficulties and responsibilities than to face them. Even painful experiences,once we can get through them, can serve as bases for learning and future growth.

Because things in my past controlled my life, they have to keep doing so now and in the future. If thiwere really true, it would mean that we are prisoners of our past, and change is impossible. But people change all the time -- and sometimes they change dramatically!

It is terrible when things do not work out exactly as I want them to. Could you have predicted the course of your own life? Probably not. By the same token, you can't predict that things are going to work out exactly as you want them to, even in the short term.

I can be as happy as possible by just doing nothing and enjoying myself, taking life as it comes. If this were true, almost every wealthy or comfortably retired person would do as little as possible. But instead, they seek new challenges as pathways to further growth.

Of course, this list does not cover all the negative beliefs which hold us back from becoming the best that we can be. But they are so common that most of us have believed some of them at least part of the time. As far as the others are concerned, whenever you feel a change in mood and you find yourself feeling angry, anxious, depressed, or fearful, you can use a table like this one to write down what was going through your mind at the time, and to figure out how you might be able to see things differently. You can use the print command on your computer to print off as many copies as you need, and keep them handy to change your moods by re-examining and changing the beliefs that got you there.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adambarsouk/2018/11/11/people-spend-billions-on-back-pain-this-expert-believes-theres-a-simple-fix/amp/

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Cognitive-Behavioral Links


Hew is a list of links to some of the Blog entries which refer to cognitive-behavioral therapy. When you click on a link and it takes you to the Blog, just scroll down and the post that you have clicked on will come up first.. Then you can repeat this process for each additional link. If the links do not work on your computer or handheld, 

I hope you find them useful!

Trump and Hitler: Post-midterm Update

Many people have compared Trump to Hitler  However,  although they were both narcissists, Hitler was a much better speaker! He even made use of lighting, symbols, and audience involvement to drive home his points. Here, with English subtitles, is one of his classic speeches. 




Note that after Hitler boasts to his cheering supporters that he has eliminated all sources of political opposition, Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf  Hess strode to the platform at the conclusion of his speech, and ecstatically proclaimed that the Party was Hitler, and Hitler and Germany were one, thereby making Hitler's power absolute.

Now compare this with the reception accorded to Donald Trump at his new conference following the mid-term elections. Before he can silence the opposition, he'll have to silence the press first/




Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Most Effective Way to Use Hypnosis

"Help! I'm a student in Dr. Gibbons' Psychology class!"
When I opened my psychology practice in New Jersey,, one of my first hypnosis clients asked me, "You aren't going to turn me into a chicken, are you?"

"No," I replied. "That's for stage hypnotists." But I did once. And this experience taught me more about the true nature of hypnosis than I have learned from any other single source.


Several years earlier, when I was discussing the topic of hypnosis in an Introductory psychology class, I asked a student who had previously shown herself to be adept at hypnosis if she would be willing to help me illustrate how easy it was to turn a hypnotized person into a chicken. She readily agreed, After hypnotizing her, I told her that I would count backwards from ten to one, and that at the count of one she would have been turned into a chicken.

"You will always be able to hear and to respond to my voice," I continued, "and I will return you to your normal state in a few minutes, before I bring you out of hypnosis. But until I do, you will experience the world exactly as if you had been turned into a chicken. You will remember everything I have said, and it will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Okay?"


She nodded in agreement, and I counted slowly backwards from ten to one, providing suggestions along the way that she could feel herself changing into a chicken; and at the count of one, I announced that she had become a chicken. "Would you like to open your eyes and walk around a bit?" I asked. She did so, walking slowly as I took hold of her elbow. "Why are you walking like that?" I asked.


"I'm a chicken," she answered in a high, cackly voice, much to the amusement of the class.


I guided her back to her desk, counted from one to ten to restore her usual perceptions, and then concluded the hypnotic demonstration. I then asked her if she had really felt like she was a chicken, and she slowly and thoughtfully nodded in agreement. 


I was not being pranked. She had taken my class in hypnosis, and I knew that she had superb hypnotif abilities.  But if she had really believed that she was a chicken, why didn't she scurry away in fear as soon as I approached her desk? Why did she allow me to slowly walk her around the room, limping slightly instead of struggling to get away, as a real chicken would surely do? Why was she able to understand my spoken question? How was she able to answer it by saying, "I'm a chicken?" And why were the suggestions so easy to undo, as if she understood English as well as she ever did?


We could talk about a "hidden observer" that always knows what's going on and maintains control, no how matter deeply a person is hypnotized, as Hilgard (1974) did. We could talk about "trance logic," which is similar to the logic which is found in dreams, as Martin Orne (1959) did. But why should we infer the presence of any extra mental processes when they are not needed?


What she had actually believed and responded to was the narrative of what had taken place (Sarbin & de Rivera, 1998), She knew that she was a student in my class, and she knew that she had consented for me to hypnotize her. She still had the kind of "Alice-in-Wonderland" imagination which we all have as children, but most of us lose as we become adults. Therefore, she was able to act, think, and feel as if she were a chicken for the purpose of my class demonstration when she volunteered to do so.  


The demonstration was undertaken in the spirit of fun, and everyone understood that. But the transformational effects of believed-in  imaginings can be powerful indeed if they fit into the ongoing  narrative of one's life story.


If hypnosis is believed in imaginings, as asserted by Sarbin & de Rivera (1998), is it easer to tell hypnotized people that they are turning into a chicken, or that they are dissolving completely into the
 infinite, unbounded love of the Creator? What would be the effect of such a suggestion upon the ongoing narrative of a person's life -- especially upon their mental health and their overall level of happiness? I have been using this type of approach with selected clients in my general psychology practice. Here are their stories. Judge for yourself. 

Modern physics has provided us with a model of the multiverse which can be metaphorically accessed by means of hypnosis in order to provide the necessary conceptual framework, as illustrated in the following video by Professor Michio Kaku.


 

Here is an example of how this works in practice. Marie was an attractive, twenty-three year old college senior who had been diagnosed with treatment-resitant bipolar disorder during a one-week psychiatric hospitalization two years before she began treatment with me Her capricious moods had been wreaking havoc with her ability to maintain gainful employment and to keep a satisfactory grade point average which would allow her to pursue her ambition of becoming a clinical psychologist. This caused her a great deal of anger.

During her third session with me, she stated that she was having difficulty following the converstion due to a severe migraine. We had briefly discussed hypnosis during her previous visit, and she had expressed an interest in it.After an induction and deepening, I provided sugestions that she was traveling to the Multiverse through a rainbow of delight instead of through a wormhole, with each band containing a different positive emotion as a means of making these emotions more easily accessible. Suggestions of time distortion were included, so that even though the hypnotic session might have lasted only a few minutes, it would feel as if we had been gone for an eternity.



References
Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156. 


Gibbons, D. E., & Woods, K. T. (2016). Virtual reality hypnosis: Explorations in the Multiverse. Amazon Books 

Hilgard, E. R. (1974), Toward a neo-dissociation theory: Multiple cognitive controls in human functioning. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 17(3), pp, 301-316. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Orne, M. T,  (1959), The nature of hypnosis: Artifact and essence. Journal of abnormal and social psychology,  psychnet.apa.org.


Sarbin, T. R., & De Rivera, J. (1998),  Believed-in imaginings: The Narrative Construction of Reality (Memory, Trauma, Dissociation, and Hypnosis) . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.



Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hypnotic Speed Walking on the Path to Enlightenment

In the hypnoverse, everything that can be imagined  can be called into consciousness and experienced as a real event. You can selectively sample from the best moments of every parallel lifetime you can possibly imagine, speed-walking on the path to enlightenment,  and you can directly explore the joys and wonders of the Multiverse itself (Gibbons & Woods, 2016), where I like to provide the following suggestions:

"As you become aware of the presence of a Consciousness other than your own, you can Feel the power of this infinite loving energy completely absorbing every muscle, fiber, and nerve, and cell of your entire being, with a beauty so intense that you would not be able to bear a fraction of it if you were not hypnotized -- Infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal, beyond all measure of eternity -- infinite, boundless, eternal, and everlasting.  (Pause) In this state of perfect union and total love, you are completely merging with the Creator (or your BEST ME, in its highest and most perfect form).  And all of the happiness, love, joy, wonder, rapture that have ever been felt by all the people who ever walked the face of the Earth, put together, are yours  to enjoy, and yours to be -- now, freed from the limitations of time and space, (Pause) You can freely communicate to this Infinite Awareness all of your deepest needs and longings, and feel them being totally and completely fulfilled.  (Pause) This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you.  It is the complete and total fulfillment of your existence, greater than anything you have ever dreamed of., hoped for, longed for, or imagined, and far, far beyond anything that you ever thought was even possible: infinite, beyond infinity, and eternal beyond all measure of eternity. (Pause)  

You will not able to bring this intensity back with you, because it would be more than you could possibly bear in the everyday state of consciousness in which we live and move. But the healing effects of this experience will remain with you, turning each new day into a thing of wondrous beauty and paving over the effect of every bad thing that has ever happened to you; for here in the Multiverse, where you will spend Eternity, the total fulfillment of your existence is already an accomplished fact. And as we continue to  return here, to this, your home beyond the stars, it will change your life forever, and turn your whole existence into a thing of wondrous beauty. -- wondrous beauty -- in many different ways and on many different levels. some of which you may already know, and some of which you may not yet realize."

As the word gets around, my hypnosis clients are beginning to crowd out the other clients in my psychology practice. I noticed this just yesterday, when I was hypnotizing all day long.

Kelley Woods just e-mailed me:
 I'm reading "The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Liberation Through Understanding in the Between" by Robert Thurman, The Dalai Lama, Karma Lingpa, Padma Sambhava and wanted to share this quote with you 
"So, the Tibetan lamas who can consciously pass through the dissolution process, whose minds can detach from the gross physical body and use a magic body to travel to other universes, these “psychonauts” are the Tibetans’ ultimate heroes and heroines."
       Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/a4s5sG"

If you possess the necessary training (Gibbons &Lynn, 2010), I invite you now to join us now in this fascinating pursuit. In the words of Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, "Come Watson, Come! The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!" 

References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.





Sunday, October 14, 2018

How to Make Your Hypnotic Suggestions Permanent

One day, I happened to mention to my ten-year-old daughter that Lenin was her mother's second cousin.

"WHO?" she asked, incredulously.

"Lenin," I responded.

"JOHN LENNON?" she asked.

In my parallel universe, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a major historical figure in the development of Communism:

V. I. Lenin

But in my daughter's parallel Universe, V. I. Lenin did  not exist. John Lennon, however, was as real as a -- well. a "yellow submarine."

Once we have determined the contents of someone's  parallel universe, we can provide corrective experiences which permanently change their behavior  I am fond of quoting a well-known story about a Russian boy who had become shy and withdrawn because his face was disfigured by a birthmark -- until his grandmother told him that this was a special sign from God that he was destined for greatness. Although he did not become famous, he eventually married, had a family, and experienced a much more successful life than he otherwise would have had, were it not for his grandmother's prediction, which had come to function as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If a client with esteem issues has one talent or skill that he or she can do extremely well, we can guide them to experience a parallel Universe in hypnosis where they really shine, and use that experience to alter the narrative of their life story in this one.  I was recently working with a client who was going through several anxiety provoking stresses at the same time. She was also an excellent amateur gymnast, and she would probably have had great success if she had the means to compete at the national and international level. She responded extremely well to hypnosis. 

To boost her confidence and self esteem, I hypnotized her and suggested that she was going to experience the thrill, the exertion, and the triumph of winning an Olympic competition in a parallel universe, and having the gold medal hung around her neck at the end of the ceremony. At the conclusion of the session, she opened her eyes, obviously thrilled to the core, and exclaimed, "Wow! I just won a gold medal!"

She knew that she had done this in hypnosis, but it didn't seem to make any difference. We chatted for a while, and I jokingly mentioned that perhaps I should adopt the motto for our practice that some dance studios use, posting a sign outside which read, "Walk in, dance out." To my surprise, as I watched her leave the office and go down the hallway to the door at the far end, she was dancing!

She later told me that she had no more difficulties in facing her current stressors with resolution and courage.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Having the Will Power That You Need




For centuries, Determinists have been saying that human beings are not free because, although we make choices in accordance with our motives, we do not choose the motives themselves.. Now, we can!

Whenever we have a long-term goal, its rewards are in the future. We attempt to bridge this gap between present efforts and future sources of satisfaction by daydreaming, autosuggestion, "positive thinking," affirmations, visualization, and fantasy techniques. However, these often don't help as much as we need them to, because they don't do enough to involve our whole person in the satisfactions of goal attainment. Eventually, even though our long-term goal remains as attractive as ever, our motivation begins to falter, and sooner or later we give up. If the gap between our aspirations and what we are able to do involves the attainment of a major life goal, such as obtaining a college degree or becoming financially secure, the gap between what we aspire to and what we have actually achieved can often be great enough to cause a full-blown existential depression.

In the following video, the renowned physicist Professor Michio Kaku states that modern physics has finally ended the free will debate, because quantum physics at the sub-atomic level is fundamentally random.


Many modern physicists, prof. Kaku among them, also believe that since there is an infinite number of possibilities for any given outcome, then somewhere In the Multiverse -- the Universe of all possible Universes -- you are already living in a parallel lifetime in which you have achieved your goal and are basking in its rewards. 

By using the technique of mindful hypnosis developed by Kelley Woods and Michael Ellner to project your imagination into a parallel Universe where your goal has already been achieved, you can pre-experience the rewards of this goal with your entire being in hypnosis. This in turn can provide the motivational fuel to continue to pursue the goal you have chosen, no matter how distant or difficult that goal might otherwise appear (Gibbons & Woods, 2016).

The incentive value of mindful hypnosis can be further enhanced by pre-experiencing the rewarding outcomes of other situations related to the goal, such as celebrating at a graduation party with friends and family, or relaxing on the deck of a cruise ship on a much-deserved vacation after a long-desired degree is actually in hand. 

The Importance of Sub-Goals

Lao Tzu said, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." About thirty percent of all the graduate students who have to write a dissertation as the final step in attaining their doctorate fail to do so. This is frequently because, when they think of a dissertation as a book-length project, the task looks too formidable and too difficult. But if they can break the job down into meaningful sub-goals, and experience a feeling of achievement when each of these steps is attained, it doesn't matter how long the journey is because they have learned to reward themselves at the completion of each small step.

Benjamin Franklin took Lao Tsu's observation to its ultimate conclusion using deductive logic. If you break your goal down into a sub-goal for each year, and then break each yearly sub-goal down into a sub-goal for each month, and then break each monthly sub-goal down into weekly sub-goals, and construct your daily intentions from there, you're on your way!

Kelley Woods commented, ". . .I've started teaching clients to use Mindful Hypnosis for a few minutes a day, several times a day, focusing on their chosen intention of the day. They are seeing the compounded results of having done this after as little as a week of practice." 

When there is no clearly-identified goal upon which to focus, or when existing goals are not desired strongly enough to fully motivate a person to achieve them, suggestions can be given to increase the enjoyment of goal attainment in general.

A Word of Caution

Of course, we must still be able to give up on goals which are really not worth pursuing, no mater how attractive they may seem at first, in order to protect ourselves from our own mistakes in judgment. The world is full of people who want to become a success as writers, actors, sports heroes, and a host of other things, but are simply not cut out for that kind of work. As we develop the ability to choose our motives as well as our goals, i.e., to have free will in the truest sense of the term, it is up to each of us to decide how practical or how idealistic we want to be.

The hypnoverse of all possible experiences which may be brought about by means of hypnosis is only theoretically unlimited, as is the multiverse of experiences which constitute our daily lives. But the circumstances in which we presently find ourselves are fixed; and to successfully blend the former into the latter, we must consider the point from which we start. Here is Steve Lynn's excellent summary of how they work together, followed by an illustration of their application in everyday life.. His first sentences deal with the structure of the hypnoverse, and the final sentence refers to their application in the multiverse from which we start.
 . . .how clients respond to suggestions depends less on the nature and success of a particular induction than on the following variables: (a) clients' prehypnotic attitudes, beliefs, intentions, and expectations about hypnosis; (b) their ability to think, fantasize, and absorb themselves in suggestions; (c) their ability to form a trusting relationship with the hypnotist; (d) their ability to interpret suggestions appropriately and view their responses as successful; (e) their ability to discern task demands and cues; (f) their ongoing interaction with the hypnotist; and (g) the appropriateness of the therapeutic methods and suggestions to treating the presenting problem. . . . Accordingly, clinicians should devise inductions and suggestions with these variables in mind and tailor their approach to the unique personal characteristics and agenda of each client they encounter" (Gibbons & Lynn, 2010, p. 289). 
Case Illustration

 A nurse I used to work with in a screening center asked me to hypnotize her to stop smoking, which I was happy to do. She mentioned that one of her high school teachers used to hypnotize her regularly (apparently as a demonstration subject in his classes), so it was clear that she was imaginatively gifted. 

We didn't have time for the usual stop-smoking program that I use, with three visits and all the rest. But, knowing her as I did, it was clear that if she was ready to stop she was going to do so, with hypnosis providing the necessary catalyst regardless of the time and format which were available to us -- so I just gave her the usual stop-smoking suggestions, with the usual repetition and elaboration. As I recall, I told her that her desire to smoke would vanish, that the cues which would normally awaken a desire to smoke would no longer be effective in doing so; that she could not be suddenly surprised by taking a cigarette without thinking of it and, using the BEST ME technique, I projected her awareness In the future to enable her to feel strong feelings of pride, achievement, and accomplishment at the fact that she had become a non-smoker, 

To my consternation, the next day, when I asked her how she had done, and she told me that she had gone home and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes! But six months later, when I casually mentioned something about her smoking, she told me, "Oh, I haven't smoked since the time you hypnotized me."`


"But didn't you go home and smoke up a whole pack?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replied. "And then I stopped."


Having worked side by side on the same unit with her for quite some time, I realized why she had responded the way she did. Her approach to authority was basically confrontational. In her everyday work environment, she made it obvious to everyone around her that, "Nobody's going to tell ME what to do!" So, when I gave her suggestions under hypnosis that she was going to stop smoking, her life narrative required that she had to first go home and deliberately smoke up a whole pack just to prove that I wasn't telling HER what to do. Then, once she had made the point to her own satisfaction, she could comply with my suggestions because she finally had the will to change -- as soon as sh was willing to use it!



References

Gibbons, D. E., & Lynn, S. J. (2010). Hypnotic inductions: A primer. In Ruhe, J. W., Lynn, S. J., & Kirsch, I. (Eds.) Handbook of clinical hypnosis, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Assn.


 
  






Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Toxic People who can Wreck Your Life

  

Toxic, or personality-disordered people, can wreck your life when they are bosses, friends, or family members, As clients,they can cause you to doubt yourself because of their abrasive nature and the fact that they are often resistant to treatment.

If you search on Facebook or the Internet for "toxic people," you're going to get all kiinds of lists, but the following descriptions of personality disorders is based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. They have been compiled by some of the best minds in the field of mental health, drawing upon years of clinical observation and literally hundreds of research studies to find patterns which “clump together” in present-day culture. Of course, actual diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by a mental health professional, and many people can have the traits of one or more personality disorders without qualifying for a full diagnosis -- but, there is an old saying, "If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck -- it's a duck!"  If you know someone who appears to fit one or more of these descriptions, it might be worth your while to examine the reasons why you maintain a relationship with such a toxic person, with professional  help if necessary

Borderline Personality Disorder.

To understand the person who qualifies for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, think back to some of the stormiest days of your adolescence, or the adolescence of someone you know well. With an incompletely developed sense of self, borderlines have no firm idea of who they are and where they are going. Their lives are often erratic, with frequent job changes and alterations in long term goals, and intense and unstable friendships and romantic involvements.

Because of their poorly developed sense of self, borderlines often have difficulty with so-called “boundary issues,” or the ability to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate in a given situation. Some borderlines, in fact, may find it difficult to even talk to a person of the opposite sex for very long without acting as if they are falling in love with them. As would be expected, the romantic lives of borderlines tend to be especially tumultuous. The manipulative abilities of people with borderline personality disorder often enable them to deceive those who do not understand the inner storms which produce such behavior, which frequently causes their sudden bouts of passion to be mistaken for genuine love.

Borderlines often engage in “splitting,” with either extremely positive or extremely negative feelings towards others, sometimes suddenly reversing from extreme friendliness to extreme rejection and vice-versa. This changeability frequently leads them to engage in behavior that is highly manipulative. This splitting may also be the reason why the interpersonal relationships of borderlines are often centered around real of imagined fears of abandonment. (One book on borderline personality disorder is entitled, I Hate You - Don’t Leave Me!) These tendencies to engage in splitting may also explain why borderlines also seem to have a strong ability to divide those around them into separate camps of friends and enemies.  

Borderlines usually have very low self-esteem, and suicidal gestures, genuine attempts,and successful suicides are not uncommon. Many borderlines have a history of cutting themselves, or other forms of self-injurious behavior as a result of low self-esteem. 

The following video ex[lains how to spot the nine traits of a borderline personality disorder.




Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The ancient Greeks used to tell the story of Narcissus -- a lad who was so good-looking that he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and spent so much time gazing at it that he eventually fell into the pool and drowned. People who are given a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder are often perceived as being selfish or conceited. They may often spend a great deal of time telling you how great they are, or boasting of their achievements or accomplishments.

Some people think of a person with a narcissistic personality disorder as having a superiority complex to cover up for an inferiority complex. When you get to know such people well, it soon becomes apparent that the reason they spend so much time “tooting their own horn” is that deep down inside, they really feel afraid, inadequate, and unlovable.

Narcissists do not always act selfishly in the short term. They are often highly motivated to pursue long-term goals in order to prove their worth both to themselves and others. For this reason, narcissists often tend to gravitate to positions of leadership in business, government, education -- and yes, even churches.

Narcissists often cause a great deal of suffering, particularly when they happen to be employers, family members,  or romantic partners. Yet there are ways of dealing with them. (Since no two personalities are exactly identical, however, you cannot stereotype them and treat them all exactly the same way.)

Histrionic Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder may often be compared to an adult version of the “spoiled child” who will do anything to remain the center of attention. If histrionics are able to “show off” and remain the center of attention by doing a good job, they often accomplish a great deal. But if they feel that they are being ignored, or that the attention which they crave so deeply is denied them, they may become angry and disruptive in order to get it back again -- even if it’s unfavorable attention this time! ("I don't care what you say about me," one publicity-hungry histrionic is reported to have said to a reporter for a scandal magazine. "Just be sure you spell my name right.!")

Antisocial Personality Disorder.

People with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder did not incorporate our society’s standards of right and wrong into their personalities as well as the rest of us have. They begin getting into trouble with the authorities by the time they are adolescents, and don’t grow out of it. As you might suppose, this pattern is much more common in men than in women.

Since personality disorders are so difficult to change, many such people keep going back and forth to jail from their teen years until middle age, when they seem to mellow out of their own accord. They make up the bulk of most prison populations, and often have a history of substance abuse or substance dependency. However, people with antisocial personality traits (I like to call them stealth anti socials) may be encountered almost anywhere, even at the highest levels of many organizations; and they may not be found out until their behavior gets them into trouble. (The discovery and apprehension of stealth anti socials in high-profile positions is the basis of many of the news stories we read about every day.)

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be popularly known as a “nit-picker” or “neat freak.” They may become so involved with orderliness, perfectionism, and control that efficiency suffers as a result. This culture tends to place a high value on preoccupation with detail in certain jobs. With proper training, people who have milder forms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may become excellent law clerks, college registrars, bank auditors, or personal physicians -- in which case, it may not be a personality disorder any more, unless it interferes with their functioning off the job!

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is closely related to another disorder with a similar name, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD for short, which is similar in nature but more limited in scope. Obsessive-compulsive disorder refers to a pattern of continually recurring thoughts (obsessions), or behaviors which one is compelled to continually repeat, such as checking a door several times in a row to be sure that it is locked.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

People who carry a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder have had such unpleasant social interactions in the past that with the possible exception of one or two close relatives or special friends, they have come to fear all human contact. Avoidants are frequently not merely shy about most social situations, they are genuinely phobic about them. Their avoidance is often centered around a core belief that if people really got to know them, it would immediately become obvious how incompetent and worthless they really are, and the immediate result would be scorn, rejection, and loss of employment. People with an avoidant personality disorder often tend to gravitate to solitary occupations -- researchers, librarians, or forest rangers, for example; and they may be attracted by certain monastic orders. (Of course, not everyone in these types of occupations could be diagnosed with an avoidant personality disorder!)

Dependent Personality Disorder.

A central theme in the life of people who have been diagnosed with a dependent personality disorder is a need to be looked after and taken care of, often accompanied by excessive fears of real or imagined abandonment. Ironically, some people who qualify for a diagnosis of DPD may behave in exactly opposite fashion. Those with milder forms of this disorder may attempt to satisfy their underlying dependency needs by becoming so efficient and thorough that they make themselves indispensable. Others, whose disorder is more severe, become highly dependent on instructions from above, and are reluctant to show any initiative in carrying out their responsibilities for fear that they will have made the wrong decision.

Paranoid Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder tend to see the activities of other people as ill-intentioned -- even when the opposite is true. Compliments may be seen as attempts to gain undue influence through flattery, and offers of help may be seen as evidence that the person to whom the help is offered is viewed as incompetent. The resulting suspiciousness and hostility may tend to bring about the negative attitudes and behaviors which the person with a paranoid personality disorder believes were always there. (The saying goes, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”)

Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The person who has been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder is an extreme loner or a “cold fish” who just isn’t interested in being around people. Such people are often found in the most solitary jobs which others might tend to shy away from. Because of their extreme lack of social skills, they should not be expected to change simply by inviting them to parties or by introducing them to a wide circle of people.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

People who have been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder typically have bizarre notions of cause and effect, and may practice unusual rituals of their own devising, either to make things happen or to prevent them from happening, similar to those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their everyday speech patterns and favorite topics of conversation are usually regarded by those around them as being somewhat bizarre, although not totally “crazy” in the popular sense of the term. They may also take a keen interest in cults and in the paranormal. Although certainly not everyone who is interested in such topics has a schizotypal personality disorder, the true schizotypal still tends to stand out because of bizarre thought patterns.

Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

Although the American Psychiatric Association no longer officially lists this as a separate personality disorder, people with passive aggressive tendencies try to disrupt things by sabotaging the success of their employers, their family, or their friends without appearing do so deliberately, because they feel that their own needs for recognition, status, or achievement are not being met, or that other people are more successful than they are. Passive aggressive people may risk an occasional confrontation if it helps them to get their frustrations out, but they can usually gauge their actions carefully enough to avoid losing their jobs or their families.

If they are not frankly and firmly confronted about their behavior, their passive-aggressive patterns may become worse over time as they continue to follow their own “hidden agendas” and they feel that their actions are being accepted or condoned. They may single out for special treatment vulnerable individuals or groups who will not or cannot “fight back,” and their behavior may degenerate into outright bullying. Then, when the inevitable day of reckoning does arrive, the consequences may be much more serious -- both for the victims and for the organization -- than if the problem had been immediately and forcefully dealt with.

Limitations of a Personality Disorder Diagnosis.

In order to qualify for any of the foregoing diagnoses of personality disorder, the disorder must be seen to cause people significant distress in their social, intellectual, or occupational functioning, regardless of whether or not they are aware of this fact. Temperamental but highly successful movie stars, for example, whose demanding and self-centered behavior would interfere with their adjustment in another setting, would probably not qualify for a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder as long as they can "get away with it." Similarly, people who live alone in a remote location miles from the nearest neighbor would not qualify for a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder as long as they are able to function well their current situation, regardless of how intensely they may dislike having social contact with their fellow human beings.

It's easy to see how more than one personality disorder, or the traits of several, can work together in the same individual. Most of us are familiar with, or have heard stories about, the narcissistic borderline who sleeps her way into an executive position and then proceeds to systematically eliminate all those who are familiar with how she got to where she is, while tyrannizing over the ones who have been hired as their replacements. We are also not surprised to learn about a narcissistic antisocial convict (sometimes referred to as a psychopath), who immediately commits another crime upon his release from prison, which entitles him to several more years of "three hots and a cot," plus free medical and dental care. Many of us have also witnessed instances of a passive-aggressive histrionic, who regularly disrupts public meetings with their oft-repeated tales of woe, to the extent that it becomes next to impossible to get any business done. 

People with personality disorders are not likely to seek professional assistance, because they are frequently inclined to blame their troubles on everyone but themselves. When they do seek help, it is usually because they are forced to do so (often in conjunction with an assault or a suicide attempt, or because a family member insists on it). They tend to remain as long as they are "hurting," or as long as they are forced to stay. When they are no longer hurting and are in a position to stop, they discontinue treatment.

Instead of seeing the personality-disordered individual directly,a therapist is much more likely to see a family member, romantic partner, or employee who presents with anxiety or depression as a result of their interaction with someone who has a personality disorder (whom they may refer to as a "toxic person" or an "energy vampire").

A final word of caution: as stated previously, an actual diagnosis of a personality disorder should only be made by an appropriately trained mental health professional. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to insult people is to let them know that you suspect them of having a personality disorder! While avoiding making such a diagnosis yourself unless you are properly trained to do so, and not communicating your suspicions to the individuals concerned, knowing how to recognize the major symptoms of a personality disorder will place you in a much better position to deal with such people on a daily basis, and to seek professional assistance in order to better cope with them if you need to do so. 

Of course, I am: not talking about people with just any mental illness. I am talking about the comparatively few people with a personality disorder, which is the subject of this post.

I often say to my clients that' the one who comes to therapy is frequently not really the one who needs it, and they agree. Family systems theorists refer to these clients as the "identified patient" who is usually the healthiest one in a sick family But in the majority of cases, they are unable  to leave, and they come to learn coping skills. 

We'd love to get personality disordered peoplle  into therapy, but most of the time they just won't go. (In fact, many of my colleagues now agree that we've got one in the Whte House!)


Print Sources

Cavaiola, A. C., & Lavender, N. J. (2000). Toxic co-workers: How to deal with dysfunctional people on the job. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual, DSM-V. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.