Tutorial

2.8

Toxic people

Let’s finish this line of buttons by looking at the last one: Toxic people.

What and who are toxic people?

“Toxic people” are those showing traits from ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders, such as:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder – e.g. a “psychopath” or “sociopath” who has no empathy for others.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder – e.g. emotionally unstable and insecure.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder – e.g. attention seeking.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder – e.g. having a high opinion of oneself and belittling others via insults and control.

These disorders exist on a spectrum of mild to severe. Further, absolutely anyone can show these traits from time to time without actually having one of these disorders. Most of these traits can be seen in small children. Indeed, you could reasonably describe all of them as different kinds of selfishness and immaturity.

Why are they called “Cluster B”?

This name comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (known as the DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

They categorise all personality disorders into different groups, or “clusters”.

Cluster A contains very rare and severe personality disorders, usually only seen in people with schizophrenia. Cluster B contains “dramatic, emotional or erratic” personality disorders. Finally, Cluster C contains more common milder personality disorders such as social anxiety.

A female victim of domestic violence.

How such people affect you

Personality Disorders are unique in that you can suffer from such a disorder in two ways:

  • You can have one yourself, or
  • Someone around you can have one.

Yes, you can suffer greatly because someone else has a personality disorder. If a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a workmate, or a friend has one of these disorders, you will suffer because of it.

You will suffer from their abuse, hysteria, childishness, control, threats, insults, demands, belittling comments, and much more. Further, they are unlikely to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with them. They will probably claim that you are the one with the problem – not them. Even if they admit to doing wrong, they will twist it around and claim that it was somehow your fault for “driving them to it”.

The classic examples are the overbearing mother, the abusive father, the violent husband, the school bully, the controlling boyfriend, and so on. Remember also that these disorders exist on a spectrum.

The stress and anxiety of living, working, or growing up with such people can even cause health problems. Common ones are: a low immune system, depression, fatigue, insomnia, inflammation, and social anxiety. In severe cases people can suffer from a thing called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is not caused by a single event, but a series of stressful events over a long period of time.

In Self-Rewiring

On the session page we have four lists to help you to identify how toxic people have affected you, what they did, how you can defend yourself in the future, and how to un-do the damage.

Here are the lists:

Vitally important

It is highly recommended that you identify the toxic people in your life and to understand how they have affected you. Many problems that need to be rewired were either caused or worsened by the influence of one or more toxic people.

Indeed, many people are only learning Self-Rewiring to treat problems which were caused by toxic people, such as being raised by narcissistic parents, being victimised by school bullies, or from being the victim of a selfish spouse.

Yet this isn’t about blaming others. It’s about uncovering the truth so you can then heal the damage.

A man puts his hand up to the camera.

Go “no contact” or “gray rock”

People with personality disorders rarely change spontaneously and there are no known cures.

The best strategy in dealing with such people is to avoid them. If possible, go “no contact” with them and then perform Self-Rewiring sessions to un-do the damage they caused.

Do not think you can change them, reason with them, or successfully argue with them. You can never “win”. They will not change because they do not believe that there is anything wrong with them. Removing all contact – or limiting it – is the only effective strategy.

If “no contact” is not possible because of work, family, or legal ties, go “low contact” and only keep it to the bare essentials. A popular technique is called “gray rock”. This means that when you’re around the toxic person you should be as boring as a dull, uninteresting grey rock. You never mention what you’re doing or thinking, or what interests you. Do not express any opinions. This prevents you from provoking their immature behaviour, and you stop yourself from reacting to their childish provocations in any way.

There is a lot of information online about personality disorders (especially for Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorder). If such people exist in your life (or did in the past), it is highly recommended that you learn more about it after completing this tutorial.

Take a look

Please open the session page and read through the four “Toxic people” lists.

Will any of the listed items remind you of anyone in your life?

Test a list to see if your body can relate to any of them.

Congratulations

You have completed all the major parts of Self-Rewiring therapy! You’ve learned:

  • How to choose a subject,
  • How to look at your past,
  • How to look at someone else,
  • About the three techniques categories, and
  • About the four lists categories.

What’s next

In the next two short chapters, you’ll finish learning how to perform a session.

Chapter review

  • “Toxic people” are those showing traits of a personality disorder.
  • We have four lists in Self-Rewiring to help you to identify and heal from their influence.
  • The most effective strategy for dealing with such people is to have no contact with them.