This is a quote from The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D. but if we change the words “character disorder” to “personality disorder,” we are talking about a subject near and dear to my heart–namely what causes personality disorders and how to go about healing them.
Peck describes personality disorders as stemming from avoidance of responsibility. Due to past trauma and a myriad of factors, personality disordered individuals tend to project responsibility for their lives, their choices, and their circumstances on to other people–and those people are often their own children. As a result, the children of personality disordered individuals have one of two choices to make: they either erroneously take responsibility for their parents transference, becoming overly responsible or neurotic, or they become personality disordered themselves, avoiding responsibility for their parents’ dysfunctional transference, but also avoiding responsibility for themselves.
The end result in both cases is a skewed interpretation of the world and a faulty view of reality.
Neurotics make themselves miserable (by taking responsibility for themselves and everyone else)
Having been trained since childhood to do so, neurotics have non-existant boundaries and no concept of where others end and they begin. Anxiety-ridden, they are the worriers; afraid of offending, afraid of being non-pleasing. Confused, disheartened, and exhausted from taking on the weight of the world, neurotics absolutely make themselves miserable as they forever worry if they’ve said the wrong thing or done the wrong thing; wondering how in the world they are so fundamentally flawed. Neurotics are completely unaware that co-dependency was a dysfunctional paradigm programmed into them as children.
Personality disordered folks, on the other hand, make everyone around them miserable.
These are the people who always need someone to blame, who never take responsibility for their choices or situation. They project their negative feelings and traits onto those around them so they never have to take ownership themselves.
If only they didn’t have kids, they wouldn’t have stayed in a miserable marriage all these years.
If only their boss wasn’t an incompetent prick, they wouldn’t have gotten fired.
You get the idea.
Those with personality disorders make everyone around them miserable.
Trauma, Secondary Trauma, and Personality Disorder Formation
I’m fascinated by the connection between personality disorders and trauma. Specifically, I’m interested in secondary trauma and the formation of personality disorders.
If a parent, who has experienced trauma during childhood- thus developing a personality disorder- grows up and has children who, although not exposed to the same level of trauma as their parent but due to exposure to their parent, develops a personality disorder, is the formation of that next-generation personality disorder due to the trauma of growing up with a traumatized parent or is it due to secondary traumatization through something like exposure to post traumatic stress?
And what is the prognosis for healing?
Did you grow up with a personality disordered parent or caregiver? Do you feel you have developed a personality disorder yourself to some degree? Based on what I know of trauma recovery, I would love to talk to you; to discuss your thoughts on treatment and healing.
Would you share your story?
If anyone is willing to share your experience, I would be honored if you would share it with me. Confidentiality and/or anonymity will be maintained. Reach out, send a note. I would be grateful. Connect with me at: hello (at) goodmentalhealth.info.
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