Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Paranoid Personality Disorder

My first discovery was that I suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder. Interestingly when I was evaluated for social security benefits they did not agree it was APD. And the reason for that was just plain stupid. They thought I was coming in there having read a book and trying to manipulate the system to get benefits. So they ignored everything I was saying and came up with their own diagnosis. Oh and this took all of an hour. What folly!

They produced a written evaluation and I was given a copy. I studied it thoroughly. The way they worded it they were trying to torpedo my efforts to get benefits. However not understanding the criteria they didn't realize they actually helped. Their diagnosis was that I have Antisocial Personality and Bi-polar disorder. Back when I first got arrested for the armed home invasion I might have whole-heartedly agreed I was antisocial. But I've learned a lot about myself and I don't think it fits. Lack of remorse and lack of conscience are hallmarks of antisocials and I don't have that. The good thing is they agreed there was a personality disorder that inhibited my ability to function and particularly to make a living and that was all I needed to get awarded benefits.

I wondered if they were correct that I do not truly have Avoidant Personality Disorder. So I continued to study. Personality disorders are really hard to nail down. Some have similarities to others. I can see how they would come up with antisocial only having an hour to work with. But I know myself much better and I was able to determine that instead of antisocial personality they should have concluded it was Paranoid Personality Disorder. There are subtle nuances that they missed. The similarity is that both get into legal trouble. But there is a major difference. Paranoids get in trouble as a result of exacting revenge. Paranoids can have a conscience and still get in trouble. There may be a lack of remorse toward those whom revenge is exacted but not a generalized lack or remorse for all people.

Another reason why they probably missed it is because antisocials can also look like avoidants in that they are loners. I determined it is a combination of Paranoid and Avoidant. I think in fact that the avoidant part came as a result of the difficulties I was having with the PPD. In other words it was a sort of defense mechanism. In fact when I was in prison the first time and having difficulty with other inmates I approached the chaplain. He, being my boss, I don't think was comfortable counseling me. I also think he was afraid of me. So what he did was he went to pshycological services. He came back and handed me a small piece of paper with the following written on it: “Due to years of interpersonal difficulties patient has learned to reject others before they reject him.” That's Avoidant Personality Disorder. Or at least part of it. They were able to determine that much not even having spoken to me. They derived that from the psychological test they gave me when I was first processed into the system.

Another interesting thing is that when I took the battery of tests before leaving prison the first time they came CLOSE to diagnosing it as PPD. They effectively did but they didn't put a name on it. I actually spoke to two people. The one focused on the anger. She was the one who told me she didn't know WHERE it would come out just that it would. The second one focused on the paranoia. She was saying from whatever she was looking at that I have a tendency to paranoia or suspicion. They way she said it was so clinical that it was difficult for me to understand what she said. The only thing I really came away with was “paranoia” but I didn't understand how or why. I needed those underlying details. And since I didn't grasp what she was saying I couldn't agree with her and therefore I just ignored the whole thing.

I had been seeing a psychologist right before I was arrested and sent to prison. They also came CLOSE and in fact had spent a lot of time with me. The head shrink there came up with the diagnosis of “paranoid schizophrenic.” I think they got the schizophrenic part because I was smoking marijuana heavily and so I was having extreme paranoid delusions. That was one of other things that clinched it in my mind. Marijuana basically inhances or amplifies your underlying personality. It actually does much more and worse that that. But that is one thing it does. When I got high I became paranoid. I couldn't understand why no one else I knew had that happen to them.

I wrote down all the aspects of PPD that I felt personally applied to me and they are listed below:

1.I express suspicion through argumentativeness, recurrent complaining, or hostile aloofness.
2.I’m often described as "cold", objective and rational.
3.I am quick to adopt beliefs about the motives of others. I’m inordinately quick to take offense, slow to forgive, and ever willing to counterattack. I experience great difficulty forgiving perceived wrongs. I am very vengeful and pursue conflict with great tenacity. I never tire in my quest for self-vindication. I have often felt that my own hurt feelings provide sufficient cause for justifying almost any retaliation on my part. I have frequently felt deeply hurt by people even though there was little objective evidence. I will scan the environment for minimal clues that validate my preconceived ideas. I may sometimes know this and yet still feel the same way.
4.I have very strong feelings about my personal rights. I used to directly retaliate which often got me into trouble. Unwilling to be “bested” I adopted a more litigious approach. I have so far been able to resist taking adversaries to court.
5.During childhood I had poor peer relationships, I was solitary and hypersensitive.
6.I’ve been called arrogant but inwardly I feel very impotent and inferior.
7.I am hypersensitive to any hint of hurt, betrayal, rejection or attack. I struggle with intense dread of abuse, exploitation, or harm from others. I learned at an early age that the world was a dangerous place and that people cannot be trusted. I once had a friend say to me “You don’t trust anyone do you?” I learned to live under the expectation that people would exploit or deceive me if given a chance. I expect people to be devious, treacherous, and manipulative. I believe care must be taken to not be demeaned or taken advantage of. I expect the worst of others and am, accordingly, apprehensive, suspicious, uncompromising, and argumentative. I’m always on guard, mobilized, and ready for threat. I’m edgy, tense, abrasive, irritable and distant. Someone once said to me “You use the Charmin with your armor on.” I live in fear of harm and malevolence from others and maintain extraordinary vigilance. Accordingly, the more disturbed I am, the more dangerous I can be. Under stress I become very unstable. I can be quite deceptive, hostile, disloyal, and malicious.
8.I have difficulty accepting blame or shame and am likely to turn things back on my accusers or even those offering “constructive criticism.” At the same time I am very self-aware and given time I can and will admit my faults and wrongdoings.
9.In the past I have seen myself as different from others. When I was young I wondered if I was an “alien.”
10.If an associate shows loyalty or affection to me I am usually so surprised that I can’t believe it. I often misinterpret compliments as hidden criticism.
11.I experience accurate perceptions but misjudge what they mean. For instance, I usually perceive an offer to help as an implication that I’m not smart enough or doing well enough on my own.
12.I am reluctant to confide in others because I fear the information will be used against me. I’ve given false personal information on forms in order to protect my privacy.
13.I am generally difficult to get along with and have consistent trouble within relationships.
14.I tend to provoke hostility in others. I engage in "hair trigger" responses to trivial behavior from others.
15.I have repeatedly enacted guarded and domineering interpersonal patterns. Girls are apt to accuse me of being controlling.
16.I am likely to direct hate and rage at those who betray or disappoint me.
17.I am keenly aware of power and rank and I fear domination. I have had recurrent conflicts with authority figures. Rather than attempting to exert power I have chosen to simply avoid authorities altogether. I cannot count the number of times I’ve left jobs as a result of feelings of being antagonized by employers.
18.I am inclined to criticize and devalue others -- while any criticism directed toward me is intolerable.
19.I’m inclined to be inflexible and unwilling to compromise.
20.I have an excessive need to be self-sufficient along with an exaggerated sense of my own self-importance.
21.I have great difficulty seeing the humor in most situations.
22.I have some difficulty expression warm and tender feelings. I am unable consistently express love and affection. I can vacillate between being warm, concerned, loving and attentive to being abusive, suspicious, projecting, accusing, blaming, critical, demanding, belittling and downright cruel. The warmth and concern I may express cannot counterbalance the damage and hurt that can be inflicted upon significant others. People close to me have made it clear that the damage I have inflicted is so horrendous that it is almost impossible to recover from it without shedding enormous amount of pain. My anger has been so intense at times that I have denied the true personhood of my partners, crushing their spirits and causing seemingly irreparable harm.
23.I have an unspoken way of warning off others that I am a formidable potential enemy and that people with ill intent would be well-advised to stay away from me. My defensive structure requires and ongoing experience of independence, superiority and autonomy. I stick to myself.
24.Only when I feel that I am vindicated and others are controlled is an element of security introduced into my life.
25.Extreme or unanticipated stress can precipitate a crisis that appears, to others, out of proportion to the situation at hand.
26.I grew up in an atmosphere charged with criticism, blame, and hostility.
27.My thinking can be very idiosyncratic and filled with defensive logic.
28.People perceive me to behave in strange, unusual, and peculiar ways. They often openly comment on my behavior which hurts my feelings and also angers me.
29.My outbursts of anger have been destructive to myself and others.
30.There are people I feel I can trust and who are “safe” people. But at times even they come under scrutiny.
31.I have largely lived a solitary existence.
32.I have been an underachiever. I have not fulfilled my intellectual potential and my academic performance was always poor in comparison to my ability.
33.I am not likely to put myself in a position of vulnerability to or dependence upon others.

You then have to interweave that with Avoidant characteristics to get an idea what I'm like. I can look back and see an infinite number of things that happened all along the way that just scream PPD. It's been there all along I just couldn't see it. One thing I can say on a personal note is that the above is very discouraging. This has been going on all my life. And the stuff is so deeply ingrained in my personality it's hard to even pinpoint. It's taken me my whole life just to figure out what the hell was wrong. Having it all written out and in surveying the landscape now it's like “What can I ever do in a lifetime to fix all this?” So far the answer is not very much. I've come to the conclusion that my best bet is to accept it and try to have as much quality of life as is possible under the circumstances.

As I was carefully studying each individual personality disorder I figured something else out. Cheri had a classic case of Borderline Personality Disorder. In a nutshell BPD is fear of abandonment. She had it bad. I remember her telling me she would panic if her mother would walk around the corner in the grocery store as a child. Figuring that out explained the volatility between us. First of all we both had serious personality disorders but then they were like opposites. She was afraid of abandonment and I was constantly pushing her away. Her behaviors did much in the way of making me want to push her away. So it was just a really bad combination. I wish I could find her and explain to her what was going on. I know she's going to have trouble in her relationships until she figures it out. She is able to function at work. But when it comes to close relationships she's got a serious problem. Because of the way I REACTED to her it all looked like my fault in her eyes. So she had a serious problem and she couldn't see it.