6 Cluster B Personality Disorders Misconceptions (Conference Presentation)

Uploaded 2/21/2023, approx. 12 minute read

Sometimes I have this nightmarish feeling that YouTube is a giant trash, garbage, dump and landfill and I'm charged with clearing it by hand, manually, without machinery, a sesitian task.

This is the latest in a series of videos, a desperate attempt to counter the tsunami of nonsense online, spewed by unfortunately self-styled experts with and without academic degrees.

And so based on cutting edge, bleeding edge research, let us try to cope with six items, six misconceptions regarding personality disorders.

Your sanitation man for today is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a professor of psychology in at least two universities, if not more.

But who is counting? Let's delve right into the landfill.

Myth or misconception number one, codependents and borderlines are the same.

Not only is this wrong, it's dead wrong.

Borderlines are the exact opposite.

Yes, you've heard me right, the exact opposite of codependents.

The codependent controls from the bottom. She uses her neediness, her clinginess to actually roll, to extort her intimate partner.

The codependent broadcasts or openly and explicitly says if you don't cater to my needs, I'm going to die. I can't cope without you. I will sacrifice myself for you on condition that you sacrifice yourself for me.

You should do things my way because that's the only way, the only method which will guarantee my survival. This is blackmail, emotional blackmail, pure and simple control from the bottom. I will be submissive to you on condition that I can own you and possess you and control you and manipulate you and make you do things for me.

The borderline is the exact opposite while the codependent seeks to control, leverages her mental illness or mental disorder to rule over people around her, to manipulate them, to extract from them benefits and favorable outcomes.

In other words, while the codependence self-efficacy is extortionate, the borderline surrenders control. Codependent assumes control. The borderline surrenders control to her intimate partner.

He is tasked by her, is given a task, is given an assignment. He is tasked with stabilizing the borderline's moods, regulating borderline's emotions, becoming her special rock, the rock around which she feels stable and safe.

In other words, the borderline's intimate partner is her secure base, a mother substitute in many ways.

So while the borderline hands over control to her intimate partner, the codependent takes control away from her intimate partner by emotionally blackmailing him to exactly opposing and mutually exclusive strategies.

Let's move on to misconception number two.


Abuse is bad for relationships.

Relationships that are founded on abuse or which include abuse or abuse manifests are doomed to fail.

That of course is not true.

Abuse is the glue that holds dysfunctional relationships together. It is the abusive misconduct of the partners that keeps them with each other, that guarantees their presence and ongoing commitment to the relationship and investment in it.

Abuse is a mode of communication. Abuse is a form of bonding. Abuse is an attachment style.

And most importantly, abuse is a language. It's an idiosyncratic language. Language is highly specific to the diet of the couple, but it's still a language.

Abuse is proof of love and often identified with love by the abuser and his victim. The victim feels loved whenever she's abused and the abuser feels that he's abused.

His mistreatment of his partner is proof of love and is actually love.

Now healthy people, normal people, neurotypicals, whatever you want to call them, they walk away when they are abused and victimized. They just walk away. They have boundaries. They don't let this happen.

But the mentally ill bond. They get attached in the presence of abuse.

Abuse is like a catalyst of attachment and bonding. This is what is known as trauma bonding, which I will discuss a bit later.

Misconception number three. Mental illness is more or less like health, mental health, but exaggerated. Like if we take a mentally healthy person and we magnify him or we amplify her, her traits, her properties, her behaviors, her cognitions, her emotions, if we magnify and amplify, we end up with mental illness. That's not true. Mental illness is not like mental health in any way, shape or form. There's nothing in common to mentally ill people and mentally healthy people.

And the reason is that mentally ill people prefer objects to people. Mentally healthy people prefer people to objects. I repeat this. It's a very important distinction. Mentally ill people prefer objects to people. Mentally healthy folks prefer people to objects.

So the mentally ill objectify. They objectify themselves and they objectify others, or at least attempt to do so.

Because they cannot relate in any meaningful way to other people. They try to convert people to objects. They try to objectify and dehumanize them because the minute people around them, the minute other people are denuded of their humanity, the minute they are deprived of their essence, the minute they become inert, manipulable objects. This gives great comfort to the mentally ill. Objects are more predictable. Objects can be controlled. Objects never abandon. Objects don't argue back or criticize. Objects don't betray.

So mentally ill people prefer objects and would try to convert everyone around them into objects.

Misconception number four. There's a god awful, almighty confusion between approach avoidance repetition compulsion, approach avoidance repetition compulsion, and intermittent reinforcement. The two should not be confused or conflated because they have nothing to do with each other.

Approach avoidance repetition compulsion, also known as diathesis in Adlerian psychology, is a reactive pattern. It's an amalgam constellation of reactions to twin anxieties, abandonment anxiety, also known as separation insecurity, and engulfment or enmeshment anxiety.

Approach avoidance is the way mentally ill people react to these two anxieties. They vacillate and oscillate between the two anxieties.

And when they are in the throes of abandonment anxiety, they approach in order to mitigate and ameliorate and allay the anxiety.

And when on the other hand, they feel engulfed and enmeshed and subsumed and assimilated, they get terrified and they avoid.

So approach is a reaction to abandonment anxiety. Avoidance is a reaction to engulfment anxiety.

Approach avoidance repetition compulsion is almost an automated behavior. It's not conscious, it's not premeditated, it's not malevolent. It's largely out of control. It's simply an habituated pattern of reactivity.

This is not the case with intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement, hot and cold, I love you, I hate you, I beat you up, I hug you. This kind of unpredictable arbitrary, capricious undulating behaviors. That's a coercive control technique and it results in trauma bonding.

Intermittent reinforcement is a control technique. It's often premeditated. It's often a tool of preference. The abuser likes to use intermittent reinforcement because it empowers him, makes him feel omnipotent and strong and in charge.

So while intermittent reinforcement is a choice, approach avoidance repetition compulsion is a feature, a bug if you wish, a glitch, a glitch in the mental makeup, the mental composition of mentally ill people.

The borderline, borderline for example, people with borderline personality, they feel that the only things they have to offer are sex and drama. The only asset they have is their dysregulation. It makes them interesting.

So, borderlines would tend to sexualize situations or to dramatize circumstances. They would introduce drama into anything from a date to a casual conversation. The dysregulation of these people, people with borderline personality disorder, the dysregulationas far as their concern makes them worthy to be around. They don't have conversation. They don't have an inner life. They're empty. The only thing they have to offer is this endless drama often involving sex. People with borderline personality disorder are nothing but a spectacle. They're just a spectacle.

So, they are like an ongoing touring theatre production. This ties intimately with approach avoidance. Approach avoidance is a dramatic device. Approach avoidance is often the way the borderline introduces drama into her or his, of course, relationships. Approach avoidance guarantees that everyone will be on their toes. Everyone will walk on eggshells. Everyone will share the anxieties of the borderline. Everyone will be constantly anticipating the borderline's next move, thereby becoming dependent on her for their own regulation.

So, when I say drama, approach avoidance is a form of drama.

But while the abuser's intermittent reinforcement is equally dramatic, it is also malevolent. There is evil there. There's malice.

Not so with the borderline. The borderline's reactivity has to do with the way her psyche is constructed. I've dealt with this in numerous other videos. I advise you to watch the videos in the borderline personality disorder playlist on this channel.

Now, the next misconception has to do with the emptiness at the heart of the borderline and the narcissist. They have a black hole, a howling void, deep space where a person should have been. The empty schizoid core at the heart of disorders of the self, such as narcissism and borderline, is actually habituated. It gradually becomes a choice.

You see, the absence of being guarantees invulnerability and impermeability. Let me try to break it down for you.

Descending from the Olympus of $10 words to $1 words or $0.10 or whatever passes for currency nowadays on YouTube.

Many scholars, starting with Körtberg and then Seinfeld and others, discuss the emptiness at the heart of the borderline and narcissistic conditions. It's as if there's nobody there, as if it's a haunted, vacated house. There isn't even a squatter. There's no one.

And sothis emptiness, this absence, this unbeing, this rejection of life, this starts early on in the case of borderline and also in the case of narcissism, starts early on in early childhood and gradually becomes a habit. It becomes a choice.

And the reason the borderline of the narcissist choose to remain vacated, to remain uninvested in themselves, to remain uncommitted to their own lives. The reason they choose absence over presence is because when they're absent, no one can hurt them. When they're absent, they suffer no pain. When they're absent, they're invincible, invulnerable, impermeable, omnipotent. It's part of the grandiose cognitive distortion of reality and defense.

Soabsence is a form of strength in the eyes of the borderline and the narcissist. To be absent is to prevail. To be absent is to survive. To not be is the only way to be.

And sogradually it becomes a posture. It's the borderline has a whole theater constructed, a whole production constructed around her absence.

Absence is a kind of thespian skill, a play act.

And sothis choice and the absence of being go hand in hand with what I call invulnerability signaling. Invulnerability signaling is at the core of the grandiosity of the psychopathic narcissist. It's a defiant see if I care attitude.

No one and nothing have the slightest power over me. I never get attached. Emotions and weaknesses. I'm a free spirit. I'm a law onto my own. I'm to my own.

Sothese are the messages embedded in virtue signaling. These are the signals.

And this attitude leads to some counterintuitive behavioral outcomes in the case of narcissism, for example, in psychopathy. The psychopathic narcissist never engages in mate guarding.

His message to other men, for example, if he's a male, his message to other men, the women in my life mean so little to me that you can have them if you wish. They are these women are dispensable, fungible and interchangeable. They have no power over me. Nothing these women do matters or has the capacity to hurt me.

Another example, go ahead, plagiarize my work and my ideas. They mean so little to me. I can generate revolutionary breakthroughs faster than you can steal them.

Harvey Klechly, the author of the masterpiece, Mask of Sanity, was repeatedly stunned by what he called the psychopathic narcissist rejection of life. The ultimate in invulnerability signaling is all pervasive, ostentatious apathy, the profound neglect and abandonment of all personal goals and plans and behaving in ways which are in your face destructive as if one couldn't care less about one's wasted life and looming devastation or demise.


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