Saturday, March 18, 2017


I finally re-found the url for Sam Vaknin’s interview of his sweetheart of a wife.

In another vid, Sam talks about “Cluster B” personality disorders, so I had to go looking for what they were.  The term is from the diabolical DSM-5, which struggles all the time to understand how to name things better than the labels they use for insurance forms.  This time around they tried to avoid defining the boxes of psychoses or neuroticisms, which always attract a nasty cloud of social accusations, like Sam’s diagnosis of narcissism.  Such labels are short of criminalization, but can still justify chemical restraint or even confinement — for your own good.  

Even psychoanalysts, who intend to use empathy is a benign and insightful way, make their entry through the complaints of the client because that’s the only way the analysts know them, the only reason the clients come with their checkbooks.  This leads to the grotesque cop-out of docs who say that Trump is not crazy because he isn’t in pain enough to come to their office asking for help.  Crazy people suffer, they say, and Trump is not suffering.

I see it differently.  I think he is delusional because he cannot bear to leave his fantasy — he wouldn’t just suffer, he would die.  That might happen yet.

But okay, what’s the latest thinking that leads to these “clustered” personality disorders.  I’m relying on a website called MentalHelp.net   Lots to read there.  These are the four arbitrary factors of personality disorders.  (Assuming you think you know what a personality is.)

1) Distorted thinking patterns,
2) Problematic emotional responses,
3) Over- or under-regulated impulse control, and
4) Interpersonal difficulties.

To translate, these are characteristics of assholes, clingers, the childish, the energy-drainers, the bullies, the individuals that bug everyone else.  And once in a while, a misunderstood genius, like Vaknin. Otherwise, most people and their dysfunctions just chug along with the rest of society finding workarounds and tolerating the friction.  But sometimes the situation or aging or economics demand that something be done — then what to do is a puzzle.  The idea of the DSM is that if you’ve got a diagnosis of some kind, it suggests treatment strategy or at least justification for eliminating the pain-in-the-ass.

Each of these have links on the website above.  There are roughly ten “personality disorders” which overlap each other, seem connected some way, and so are “clustered.”  

Cluster A is called the odd, eccentric cluster. It includes Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorders. The common features of the personality disorders in this cluster are social awkwardness and social withdrawal. These disorders are dominated by distorted thinking.

Cluster B is called the dramatic, emotional, and erratic cluster. It includes:
Borderline Personality Disorder.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Cluster C is called the anxious, fearful cluster.  It includes the Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorders.  These three personality disorders share a high level of anxiety.

This cluster system is not that much more helpful than Freud’s imaginary system of “ego, superego, and libido” or his anatomical categories of stages of development: anal, oral, and genital.  Everyone has a little of most of these clusters in them.  In one counselling group (part of preparation for ministry) I was labeled “borderline.”  It was confusing that both of the group leaders (one male, one female) had also been diagnosed as “borderline.”  None of us fits into the description of “borderline” according to the DSM-5.  (Five means this is the fifth version.)  

The definition and description over the years has shifted around so much that it isn’t helpful anymore.  (I may have moved from Cluster B to Cluster A.  Is this progress?)  I’m NOT erratic, overemotional, polarizing, or inconsistent.  I don’t compensate with substance abuse, risky sexual liaisons, self-injury, overspending, or binge eating.  But I’m an investigative and reflective writer which means I try to find the truth, which can seem like borderline — detectives search borderlines on both sides.

Using a word derived from politics, nations, and territories, means assuming that it has to do with drawing a line, socially acknowledged, and then enforcing it — Foucault would say defining failure to observe a border line as “insane” is a control mechanism, a surveillance and contamination label.  It means “you stay on your own side or there will be consequences.”  Lately this has been vividly contested by people violating the Victorian (Freudian) lines about sex and gender roles.  People are forcing binary thinking over into continuums and asking “why not?” instead of “don’t you dare!”  What that means is that the line dividing the binary is erased.

Much more unfortunately, borderline morality in regard to wealth has redrawn the line of what is honourable far over into the gray area that always separates business from crime.  Eliminating regulation in these areas is an attempt to erase the “line” so there is no more chance of criminalization.

The Rachel Maddow show interviews over the past few days has illuminated how the “line” about interfering in other nations through cyberspying and rigging elections has been erased, partly because we’ve become calloused and habituated by the steady practice of those previously taboo acts on both sides.  But also because our video fictions like “House of Cards” and video strategy  games have made people we would see as villains in the past into attractive role models because they are powerful and wealthy.  Our ability to see through charlatans is badly damaged.  Anyway, time has wiped out those whose senses were sharpened by major war, whether atomic or cold.  Reporters now tend to look pretty, be young, and want personal followings on the basis of their personalities.  At every level — not just nightly news.  And they are controlled by editors and owners who want drama that sells.

So my idea is that borderlines become ecologies.  When Trump slams the borders shut, he doesn’t realize that the nurses along the High LIne are often “travel nurses” who come down from Canada, because in Canada the major cities are as “south” as they can get, along the border.  But on the US side the space along the border tends to be “empty,” just ranches and small towns, because it is daringly “north”.  Over time one side weaves into the other.  For instance, the St. Mary’s valley along the east edge of Glacier Park empties into geology on the Canadian side.  If you are there and need a hospital in a hurry, you go north, and if necessary you smash through the barrier.  Many of the kids up there are born in Cardston, Alberta, which confuses citizenship issues.

Coming out of the St. Mary’s hydrology complex is Milk River which long ago was redirected away from Canada into the USA because they had the money and will to do it and Canada did not have the will to prevent it.  Over the years, one of the flumes necessary for diversion began to deteriorate and leak, so that there was a kind of water oasis in dry terrain.  A cluster of plants and animals and birds formed there.  Now repairing the flume would destroy that little ecology.  Eliminating lines is eliminating the standing order, the status quo.  

“Healing” a human and his/her little community can have the same effect.  People who realize this will resist.  Some communities SHOULD be scattered, because their borderlines don’t do anything good and only create pain.  And assholes.  But others are shelters for atypical people with high value, even for the typicals.

More tomorrow if nothing disruptive happens.

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