In 2016, I was holding a spoon over my coffee at 8 pm in my mother’s kitchen. It was a survivor from childhood, one of the original set we had with a trailing vine motif. It had to be lowered to the counter very carefully. Lower it too fast and it would make an audible ‘click’ when it hit the counter. Lower it too clumsily and it might fall and clatter as each end bounced up over the other.
Six months ago I sent a text to the grown up eldest son of my then partner. (She would say: "My son the doctor.") The text included the line: "I find it interesting that you appear (to me at least) to have replaced one religion with another." I was referring to his transition from fundamental christian to woke atheist. I later learned that behind my back he referred to my text as "unhinged" and she agreed, adding her own insults. I presented this exchange to her, with a wtf?! 48 hours later she ended our 11 year relationship, with no real explanation. We had not been "having trouble". Within a month or so the three children I had raised for 11 years as step-children simply ceased responding to my contacts.
This was painful but also completely perplexing. It took me four months to work out: a) my partner was a vulnerable narcissist (as was her mother); b) all her children had varying degrees of personality disorder; c) my own mother (who I did not grow up with entirely) was a vulnerable narcissist; d) my ex-wife has narcissistic tendencies; and e) I was apparently drawn to a narcissistic type of love and the time I spent in these relationships was entirely my own choice (I ignored many warning signs).
It's been an interesting ride and I feel healthier and happier than I have been for a long time. Like you Joshua, I have had a lot of experience with these personality disorders and it has left me sensitized and aware. I don't feel loss for myself. A lot of the people in my story were extremely intelligent, talented, and just amazing for being people. People are amazing. This illness robs them of their lives. Their ability to love and feel loved. Their ability to make a meaningful difference in the world. Seeing that loss is crushing. I couldn't save a beautiful 17yo step-daughter because it was already too late.
Sorry for the long post if you got this far. Your obviously smart, intuitive, and caring Joshua. I hope you can make a difference with your work.
Throughout my 20s I had a Cluster B "fiancée", a frothy decoction of Borderline and Histrionic Personality Disorders. She robbed me of what should have been the best years of my life. I was confused and muddled about my career with her until I started watching Disaffected, Josh. Once I comprehended Cluster B, your experience – of all those deranged, seemingly unconnected behaviors "chunking" into place – exactly mirrored my own.
But it was so much more than that! The secret algorithm to understanding my personal traumas also turned out to be the secret algorithm to decoding everything that's wrong and bad and awful and diseased about contemporary "progressive" politics. Everything – from Joe Biden's condescending gaslighting to the Black Lives Matter riots that happened right here in the town where I live – it's that exact same abuse I endured, projected onto a societal scale.
I tell everyone I know about Disaffected. You're the best, Josh.
Hey Josh! I am SO HAPPY people like you are standing up to the Woke Borg. Thank you for barreling straight through your fear and getting the message out. Between you, the LGB Alliance, and Dennis Kavanagh, you guys keep me sane as I work to expose the gender horror gripping this country.
I’m an autistic woman, gender non-conforming. Go easy on the furries. I know they’re weird, and there are certainly predators within the “community” like that Lucas Fox or whatever the hell that kid fiddler called himself. It does pay to call out those people, but furries are overwhelmingly just awkward young people using characters to figure out human relationships. I was one of them. Being autistic I didn’t understand conversational nuance etc, and so I turned to animals and animal behavior to try to work it out. You don’t really need my life story, but I thought since around 48% of the kids that went to the Tavistock for “gender affirming care” were autistic, I’d better say something. The vast majority of furries are not looking to fuck kids. They just like animals and most of them are probably the same people that are getting victimized by gender butchers.
I don’t know how to bring this up gracefully, so I’ll just blurt. I grew up in a very similar situation as yourself, with a crazy-ass, narcissistic, borderline mother who gaslit and manipulated me. As a result I caught quite a few “fleas” like splitting and raging, and even though I’ve worked on those traits for decades, I still need to be conscious of myself. Be careful with that. Women might be driving one part of this butchery, but the online predators grooming kids to trans themselves and make porn for them are men. Don’t miss them because you’re (very rightly) pointing out the bad behavior of the Munchie moms. This is a massive failure on the part of pretty much everybody, across multiple demographics and spectrums.
I do get it, I think. I hated and distrusted my sex for a looong time because of my mother. I’d be a lot more bisexual if she hadn’t been so horrible, lol. But women aren’t any more evil than men (and vice versa). We just have our own methods, as you know from crime documentaries. Love those, btw.
Of course, if you think I’m full of shit, feel free to ignore me. This isn’t about control, and god forbid I ever cancel anyone or discourage discussion. That’s not my intention. I only want to add a different perspective. We need your voice. We need ALL the voices. Don’t stop calling terrible and greedy people out! You’re making a difference
I'm definitely sorry to hear you were putting up with Narcissism for your mother into your forties. I know, sometimes when people express sympathy it can ring hollow, like a platitude repeated for the sake of politeness. But I really do have a sense of what you must have gone through.
A few months ago I realized my first girlfriend had Histrionic Personality Disorder. It took me years to realize it, largely because I'd never have used "histrionic" to describe her, but I had the same experience you did with your mother - watching as a lifetime of “crazy” and “disconnected” maniacal behaviors slotted themselves neatly into categories. I knew she had had problems; I just didn't know what they were. Having a name and an explanation helped to give clarity and perspective to everything... and the high heritability of HPD makes me feel very, very lucky I resisted getting drawn in more than I had, and ending up with cluster B children.
Hi, this is the Tony half of Carole and Tony.
For you it was the spoon moment. That instant when the entirety of your predicament sparkled into clear view. We victims of the personality disordered all have our spoon moments. That point when we realize just how pathological the dynamic has become, and that point at which we set down our foot. Progress begins here.
My spoon moment with my narcissistic father was when I was driving across town and having a conversation with my new wife. I was twenty nine and had only recently begun to realize just how thoroughly my personality had been subsumed by his. I was the peace-maker, the more malleable of the sibs. Softer clay in his oppressive hands.
As my chevy rattled past his house I became suddenly conscious that I was rehearsing every utterance in my head before making it, as though he was (and I would actually see this in my head) seated behind me, evaluating the validity of my analysis. EVERY damned thing I would say! With virtually no exceptions! Throughout the weeks, months, and years of my life!
The utter absurdity of that pathological behavior became glaringly obvious to me - I was conscious of it for the first time. He was a narcissist who maintained his entire family under his thumb. Dissent was ridiculed and delegitimized to the point that one had to select only topics with which they were in agreement with him in order to discourse at all, and then only with him in the lead as the All-Knowing One.
That Spoon Moment was the beginning for me. I began to develop my own distinct identity and personality, which development did not meet with his approval. It seemed he loved me when I was essentially him. When I insisted on being me, he acted aggrieved rather than proud. It was a challenge - a threat to his apparently fragile self-image.
I encourage all who are under thrall to the Cluster B Beast in their world to listen to those Spoon Moments and the truth they reveal. They are an invitation... a door opened just a crack, to a better life.
I've dealt with my share of cluster-B bullshit. Reading this was difficult. I found myself wincing and not wanting to finish the article. There was something in me saying "Oh, for fuck's sake, not this again."
Aloha greetings Josh 🌈
Just watched your recently posted SOTT interview yesterday.
WOW! Recommended it to several of my friends — one of whom is currently writing an e-book re the woke phenomenon.
Think your insights will help fill in some missing data and resolve much confusion-soup within which we’re all floundering.
Thank you so much for saying what’s been intentionally and un-intentionally ignored; because to admit these truths is perceived as weakening the arguments which were used to construct the foundational platforms which are believed to have achieved the gains in the fight for acceptance.
Occurs to me that all the in-your-face screeching groups could benefit from examining their own psyches and how these personality and character traits have influenced their own particular group dynamics.
I’m specifically referring to militant feminists, manosphere, blm, political parties — even national ideological conversations.
I’m going through all your past posts on this substack in order to catch-up. And it’s a relief and joy to encounter unfiltered honesty and candidness. Thank you for illustrating the courage and straight talk that refuses to be reasonable with evil — our own and others’.
Aloha blessings and thank you for your valuable contribution to the psychic soul-healing arts. 🧚♀️
"The world is the problem, not me." Yeah, that's pretty narcissist.
You might be interested in reading The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch (1979), if you haven't already. That work was an early recognition of social trends centered around narcissism, promoted by social institutions and political movements that have only grown more prominent since then (the New Left hated it for challenging some of the precepts of then-vogue feminism, so eloquently tied to narcissism in an unaware way by Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman.") By my observations and what has been recently observed on the role of epigenetics (genetic developmental "switches" influenced by hormonal environments prenatal and postnatal) in development of Cluster B disorders, I would include the "LGBTQIA+" movement as a potential manifestation of epigenetically-rooted personality disorders. Not only is it rife with participants expressing narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, and antisocial traits on social media, but paraphilias (abnormal attractions, fetishes, etc.) tend to show up in a non-trivial correlation with Cluster B traits.
In a way, all identity politics movements amount to collectivized narcissism. But that is not let the "libertarian" Right off the hook for their brand of narcissism manifested as the belief in rugged individualism and that whatever good fortunes they have had in life are due to their superior abilities and those alone. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Ryan's hero Ayn Rand all epitomized that brand of narcissism. People recognized it at least subliminally and were turned off by it in 2012, resulting in an unanticipated weak showing against Barack Obama. And, true to form, Romney was certain he was going to win while it became obvious to any reasonably objective person that he was a repulsive candidate who essentially expected adulation simply for being rich.
Oh yeah, did you ever get your strangle doll?
First, it didn't start on the left but on the right, which has been talking darkly since the 1980s about conspiracies that patriots will have to resist by armed force. Second, personality disorders are little more than descriptions; they tell us nothing about etiology, and very little about treatment, only what has been haphazardly discovered by the few academic psychologists willing to specialize in a notoriously intractable condition. The whole category exists basically because we aren't allowed to call these people bad or mad, so we say they have a personality disorder. Third, the history of psychology/politics parallels has been barren of useful results, when it isn't being downright comical. Read Walter Langer's "analysis" of Hitler some time. Or William Bullitt's (allegedly with Sigmund Freud) treatment of Woodrow Wilson.
Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. It’s brave and inspiring.
Interesting idea. I will need to do some more reading and give it some thought. Thanks.