caveatThese disorders are all on a Spectrum with mild to severe traits. Manipulation is a tool used by many people but when it’s used with purpose to hurt someone, in all it’s various ways and forms, it is known as a “feature of a personality disorder. Because these disorders are on the spectrum they can present differently in different people at different times and in different contexts.
A frequently asked question I receive from parents regarding their adult daughters or sons is, “Can my adult daughter or son have Autism and a personality disorder at the same time?”
Over the course of my career, I can confidently answer that question – yes. So, how do you know? Research and professionals who work with these individuals. There are some traits that are the same in both disorders, which adds to the confusion, however what I have observed in those that have both are a different presentation of combined traits.
Can those that think they are Autistic actually have a personality disorder too? Yes. Can they overlap? Yes they can.
Together, the presentation is quite complex. Parental descriptions coomonly include “extremely volatility , impulsiveness , irrationality, a lack of respect for their elders or those above them (the social hierarchy) and report the use of high use of manipulation(for e.g. publicly smearing them to other family members, or being highly argumentative with people they disagree, often when they don’t have all the facts. The family is often in disarray.
Living with Autism and a personality disorder
Behaviors indicative of a PD can include but I’m not limited to: only hearing one side of a story, over-reacting and then smearing someone publicly. Autistic individuals generally do not do this because they do not like conflict or confrontation. this is not to say that autistic people do not bully or engage in these behaviours.
However, autistic and personality disordered individuals are well known To the courts police there family members the previous jobs for behaving in inappropriate ways towards other people within those areas, online or in the workplace. Workplaces bosses please co-workers family member and friends report that the individual often does not listeto the other persons point of view.
A large number of clients I have worked with admit this is a problem for them and some appear have no insight into the effects of their actions on others, their co-workers, their bosses or those around them. Both groups have interpersonal issues, however it is the ability to manipulate and smear that separates them. Autistic people have a difficult time with social skills. Personality disordered individuals are also known for poor interpersonal skills. However the difference is “manipulation”.
Extreme demand Avoidance (a type of Autism) one which the person is very defined as intelligent, manipulative and avoids everyday demands. The core feature of their condition is anxiety and the tendency to make up excuses or lies to avoid every day demands.
So, we can see how complex it can be teasing out these disorders from each other. We will concentrate on Autism and personality disorders, not EDA/PDA.
There are a number of research studies that have investigated the prevalence of Autism and a personality disorder, finding them to co-exist.
Those that work or live with individuals that have both report a volatility and manipulativeness that is not seen in Autistic individuals. This is because most Autistic individuals have a social communication disorder as the core feature and find manipulating others very difficult. What about emotional abusers?
Personality disorders often have manipulative features, including cruel intentions, depending on the personality disorder. Some clear features or examples include:
Trolling (see ‘Just who are the trolls?: An investigation into Facebook trolls and the dark Triad”, 2018) here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563217305034 and here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321218092_Judgments_of_the_Dark_Triad_based_on_Facebook_Profiles
Engaging in public smear campaigns on social media, blogs, or other platforms.
Publicly naming and smearing organisations or people with the intention of hurting them.
Contacting your friends, family, boss, whomever you are connected to and spread rumours, which in turn has that person also engaging in a smear campaign, without knowing of any of the facts beforehand.
Taking revenge. This can range from making false complaints about you, exaggerating, being a “drama queen” by creating and continuing drama, playing the ‘victim’, leaving out important details of the truth, outright lying, accusing you of being unprofessional, or going to your boss and lying about you, manipulating, and causing complete disruption to their families lives. They often are the ‘victim’ full of made up complaints and have a huge “chip on their shoulder”. Parents complain that they are always blaming others or that they are playing the victim.
Love bombing you. This is the idealisation phase. Paying you excessive amounts of attention, taking up all your time and putting you on a pedestal. You can do no wrong.
Some time late the devaluation stage takes place and the person will be taken off the pedestal and placed at the lowest position. You can do no right.
They report having to continually “put out fires” that their children have created or overdramatised. Largely since the invention of social media, this is where is it all played out now and this playground is fodder for a narcissist, borderline, sociopath or psychopath to troll, disrupt conversations, leave nasty comments on other people’s social media accounts or other platforms. Some can tmake up fake profiles for the purpose of trolling others, leaving fake negative reviews and/or stalking others online. This is because it’s a lot easier to just talk about them on a blog or make up a fake Facebook page about them and/or cyberbully them as keyboard warriors and get away with it.
A personality disordered person is often very unstable and sees in black and white. You are either an Angel or the Devil. Autistic thinking can be rigid too, however whilst they may engage in gossip and fighting online, they rarely engage in public smear campaigns or use a suitcase full of manipulative tactics, often accusing their parents or others of things they themselves are doing. Autistic people are largely socially naive and this leaves them very open to being taken advantage of.
Both groups are solidified that their version is right (usually without having the real facts or hearing the other side of their family members point of view) and this causes them problems in teenage and adult life in work organisations educational institutions and sometimes the place in court system.
Personality disordered people (in particular Male narcissists ) are well known by the court system and judges for repetitively taking their exes through the court system again and again and again. Unsurprisingly, they may end up on a vexatious litigant list.
For individuals involved with personality disordered people, there is a feeling of never knowing where you stand, a description by parents or friend as “walking on eggshells” and ‘splitting, at one time making you out to be higher than God and you can do no wrong and a while later you are then the devil and can do no right. Humans are neither and all of us make mistakes. Putting a human in either place is unfair to that person. No one is perfect.
Clients and parents describe simple facebook interactions that “turn into drama filled public smear campaigns” towards other family members and defriending them “leaving their head spinning”. Itis next to impossible to negotiate or problem solve with them as they have long gone off to tell someone about how they were wronged – yet again and garner and gather their crowd to call you or contact you to abuse you. Family members report they find themselves not knowing how to manage the situation. Work organisations, Human Resources and public relations spend a large majority of their time and resources to managing this type of employee. Typical conversations with a personality disordered person are reported to be circular, are combative and argumentative and I have often heard those all too familiar words, “they are just looking for a fight. I don’t know what to do?”. That is because they are recreating the drama from their formative childhood years and do not know how to act and resolve issues in adult ways. They also rarely understand how unprofessional they look to others.
Non personality disordered people usually are able to look at all sides of a story, do not publicly engage in smear campaigns, troll people, put words in people’s mouths and are generally Non-combative and looking for peace. They are wanting to get along and be peaceful. You should not feel like you have to tippy toe on egg shells around them. They are willing to work out issues in non dramatic and respectful ways. They do not go behind your back and use a carriage device and platform to smear you. They will talk to you reasonably and work out an issue with you with the intention of repairing the relationship and moving on, with both sides happy. Generally, healthy people want to work things out with someone. They like peace and do not like engaging in gossip, back stabbing, covert or overt manipulative or public smearing campaigns.
Public smearing campaigns whether overt or covert are a red flag and the makings of a personality disordered person. Only listening to one side of the story and not the other is personality disordered. Making false and vexatious complaints is personality disordered.
The Dark Triad are most often focused on acquiring status and will walk over anybody to get it. They have a multitude of ways of doing this, far too long to list in this blog however more noticeable narcissistic Behaviors include:
Competing against you in a conversation rather than talking an issue through
Competing to have the most forewords or mentions in a book or the most mentions in an article or publications
Competing to have the the most followers or selfies is narcissism at its finest. The newest “disorder” in 2018 well maybe called “Selfie Syndrome”, due to it’s addictive qualities, interference with daily life and obsession with getting the right picture.
If you think you have an adult child or you know someone who sounds like they have a personality disorder, you will need a lot of help from a mental health professional. It can be very challenging to manage difficult people and some companies are now letting go of these individuals, even if they are good at their job, because their personality disorder creates too much havoc within the organisation.
They usually have a pattern of going from job to job to partner to partner or friend to friend or country to country in a repetitive fashion, leaving chaos behind them and often do not see their role In the pattern and the breakdown of communication because they have the belief that they are right and everybody else is wrong. Public smearing and the mentioning of names is never OK. It is this behavior amongst others that are cause for firing in many organisations, universities, contracts or other positions, and rightly so.
Some families will also be forced to distance themselves from the personality disordered person. Often personality disordered people will smear you without mentioning your name, but they mention enough information that everybody knows who you are talking about. This is known as overt abuse and emotional abuse or domestic violence in families. You may not even be aware of what they are doing and will be the last to know.
It is extremely important to understand what healthy communication and healthy relationships friendships are supposed to be like. If you see any of these Behaviors online or in the real world, they are red flags and you may need to get some help in managing the person and help for yourself or PR for your company.
Choose wisely because you are only as good the the 5 people around you. Who do you want to be? Sometimes that can be a tough choice when it’s a family member or partner.
Always remember it is none of your business what other people think of you. Whilst they may create the drama, don’t go into the jungle with them.
next blog will discuss Current domestic violence laws, police involvement and the court system as it relates to autistic and personality disordered individuals
Thank you to J. For this FAQ.
Next FAQ is “Why do I see so much hate online towards Neurotypicals, professionals or researchers? Why do they send them death threats?
Cybercrime, cyber bullying, personality disorders, Autism, trolling, drama, PhD in manipulation, public smearing campaigns, tall poppy syndrome, hate, death threats, victim blaming.