Don't try to Reason With Cluster B
Some brief thoughts in this area
One of the most interesting issues of our times is the methods in which we handle people with mental illness. In particular people with Cluster B Personality disorders and those who are sociopathic and psychopathic. While there are concerning and even dangerous behaviors that emerge from the Cluster A and Cluster C personality subset the ones the tend to have the most dramatic effect on people including violence is the Cluster B subset.
Throughout my life I have been in the presence of people with personality disorders. For the longest time I feared that I too was going to be one of those people. The problem with the Cluster B subset is that in many cases the victim is left in a sort of conflict tornado, they are almost always kept off balance. A victim will long for good days only to worry once they come that the bad days are just off in the horizon. There is no solid ground to plant your feet onto and seeking it will only make your mental health worse and raise the stakes for possible violence. This is the Cluster B trap, once you’re in it, it’s difficult to get out. It’s even worse for the children of a Cluster B parent or parents because they have no choice but to rely on them so the behavior becomes normalized to them. These children become the puppets and the parent(s) the puppeteers. Many times these children end up growing up to have mental health issues of their own, it becomes so normalized that they’ll return back to their tormentor when it appears rationality has returned but most of the time that is a trap to bring them back into the tornado.
We have become a society in which we are supposed to overlook our own thoughts and feelings on people and issues and instead rely on experts. What if the field of experts has become over run with Cluster B people? The term “don’t diagnose” comes to mind. We are not mental health professionals, so who are we to make any type of determination on the behavior of others? I fundamentally disagree. I don’t need to know the clinical definitions and bench marks to know if I am dealing with manipulation and I am free to warn others of the same. That’s one of the antidotes to these types of people, when everyone is in on their game they often have to go elsewhere to find victims. It doesn’t work for the Cluster B, sociopath or psychopath when no one will enter the orbit.
To me amongst the many issues I have with modern psychology is the appeal to rationality for people with no rationality. You have to realize that these people do not observe reality the same way that normal people do. People are objects to be used, pieces on a chess board and a way to suck emotional & spiritual energy. It’s a macabre dance. There seems to be this tendency to believe that treatment involves an appeal to rational thought and behavior. Nothing could be more dangerous for someone then to attempt to rationalize with someone with Cluster B traits. The problem is that we have developed a “talk” based psychological, social and justice based system. We seem to have this belief that we can talk Cluster B people back into rationality.
In my experience working with people with these traits, a return to rationality is an impossible task. I have been burnt in my personal life, my work life and with clients. In many cases you don’t even know how far off you are into the weeds with them until someone asks you some basic questions that crashes you back to center. I’ve played cat and mouse games with them in an effort to catch them in a lie or misdeed to try to help them see their issues only to realize I’ve dove head first into the murky swamp of their disordered thoughts. I have been the one being chased the entire time. It’s important for me to highlight this because experience in this area comes from hard lessons. For some people it costs them everything, including their lives. I’ve seen all matter of professional and very capable people sucked into the vortex, the best people I know who deal with these Cluster B people are people who grew up in Cluster B homes and broke free or people who’ve been burned so many times that their Cluster B meter is finely tuned.
How to handle people with Cluster B Personality
It is important to know and believe in yourself. People with low self esteem or self image are prime targets for people with Cluster B. People pleasers are also more susceptible to ending up in the orbit and eventually the tornado of a Cluster B person. People pleasers must realize that no amount of attention, love, understanding, compassion or care will ever be enough. They will match you at your limit and take it one step beyond that, no matter what your limit is. Your best defense mechanism is to have rigid and defined boundaries on what you will and will not accept and stick to them. It’s like a repellent to Cluster B people. You must get comfortable saying the word, “No”. Say it now, say it with spice. You need to say it forcefully and repeatedly when you mean it. It’s your best defense, yet in our world it’s like a flamethrower. People don’t like to hear that word told to them and often people who won’t respect your boundaries will push back against it. Well meaning and well adjusted people will note your boundary and move on.
After knowing the word “No” the next step is you have to be willing to walk away. If you know someone has a Cluster B disorder or your instincts tell you and you feel yourself getting trapped in their orbit, simply walk away. Pack up and leave if it’s a relationship. Delete their number, any social media you share with them if it’s a friendship and simply forget about them. Get away as soon as you can. Walk away mid conversation if that’s what it takes. In some situations it might be someone who does care that clues you in that you’re caught in orbit or even in the tornado, as soon as you realize it, it’s time to go. Once you go, you can’t go back, going back or thinking that they have changed is one of the most dangerous games you can play.
In the event that it’s your job to be around people with Cluster B personalities, you have your work cut out for you. You need to be impossibly blunt with people who have or you assume have a Cluster B personality disorder. You have to lay out the facts and continually re-enforce them even when they offer resistance. You have to be prepared that they’ll file vexatious litigation, they’ll try to slander you to others. They act out and even be prepared for potential violence.
A histrionic person may start dramatically crying loudly in a way to attract attention or drown you out. Think of a Karen out in public. They want to appeal to your emotions and your sense of social embarrassment. Just wait till they stop and continue on like nothing happened or walk away. On social media block them, don’t give them any energy.
A narcissistic person may try to “out smart you” play down your intelligence or your knowledge. You just stick to the facts, don’t try to defend yourself, don’t ask them why they think you are wrong…those are just games they are trying to play. You’ll never be able to defend your ego against a someone with narcissistic personality disorder because their ego will always be higher then yours. In the event you absolutely prove them wrong they could become violent.
Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder will never stop needing your help, even if you help them out they will just move on to something else that only you can help them with, they’ll often call you friend or try to act like you are friends in a professional setting and when you refute it may become angry or even violent. They will use social pressure to humiliate and control you into caring for their needs. A typical game they’ll play once you refuse to enter or you leave their orbit is to threaten to kill themselves if you don’t help them. Strict boundaries and refusal to engage emotionally is is a must.
Anti-Social Personality disordered people are the ones that when you don’t give them what they want they’ll report you to any governing authority to try to get you into trouble including your manager, your licensing department, etc… they tend to be vexatious litigants. They don’t believe in the authority of those institutions but they’ll use them to get what they want. In some cases they may become violent. The key thing with these people is to know your policies, document interactions thoroughly, warn others of the behavior and don’t be deterred.
This is just some brief thoughts on this topic. I felt compelled to write about it today because someone I know had a very close encounter and was entering the orbit of someone with Cluster B. They managed to self rescue but required some other people to help them realize that they were getting sucked into the orbit and almost the tornado. Once they realized and set hard boundaries, the person they were dealing with moved on quickly. My friend realized that rationalizing with this person was only making the situation worse for them. A lesson learned before disaster.