This is just getting too much...laypeople diagnosing others (I am guilty too)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SomewhereOutThere, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    In my quest to find a safe site to post my pains and hurts on :) I do have one site and have gone to many other sites and I am both amused and alarmed at how many non-professionals feel that, based on their own experiences and some "traits" listed, they are now qualifed to diagnose others with severe personality disorders. Suzir hit on this once. Suzir, good call again.

    I had to reassess myself as well as others.I am not a doctor. Yes, I can read symptoms, which may or may not be the experience that EVERYONE has with a person. Isn't it more honest to say, "She has been mean to me?" or "We have a toxic relationship" (therefore accepting your own role in it). Isn't it more honest to just say "Mom was horrible to me, but not to everyone" and leave the label off? From now on, I'm not using labels anymore. Am I a qualified diagnostician? No.

    Many sites encourage their members to read symptoms and label people they don't get along with as having serious personality problems, although I'm sure those people do not have problem with everybody. The other sites seem to encourage this layman diagnosis.

    This could be dangerous if X told Y, say at work, "My XXX is borderline/narcissistic/schizophrenic/etc...and they know each other. I'm just blown away at how many sites encourage the labeling, although there is no guarantee the poster is stable.

    JUst my thoughts. Because of this over-labeling and mislabeling, I am thinking of just doing my own personal blog, leaving the "me" diagnoses off. That way it is for me and if others read it, that's ok, but it won't be listed in a search engine. I'm even disillusioned with my other site, which also encourages lay people to diagnose people. Also, I think many of the sites actively encourage no contact for silly reasons. I am more of "give it a try" person and then "give it another try." I think this fad will fade. We'll move on to other labels and maybe have to take responsibility for our part in relationships that are not satisfactory.

    This new labeling gives many adult kids excuses to leave their loved ones behind. "Well, she's borderline." I do think my mom had some mean people issues, but I did not leave her behind. I continued to try. Maybe this was the right thing to do, after all, even if it did not work. I'm so dizzy with "borderline" "narcissistic" etc. that I'm starting to think this applies to the entire world. At least right now. Psychiatry is inexact and in constant motion.

    Just my worthless .02 :)
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    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It has been helpful to know there are names for repeated patterns of hurtful behavior in those we love. It gives us another perspective on why they do what they do. There is not a way to know whether the label is appropriate, but when we recognize the repeated behaviors of a loved one toward us as possibly a manifestation of illness, rather than something personal, it helps us to heal.

    It was nothing personal.

    The abusive behaviors are about the abuser, not the abused.

    I've heard it said that every psychiatrist will diagnose the same patient differently.

    I've heard it said that many diagnoses are assigned more for the sake of meeting DSMI IV (or whatever version they are using these days) insurance requirements than because the patient's symptoms match the illness listed.

    So, you are in the clear too, about whether what you believe may be happening with someone you love is "correct". You are trying to make sense of things. You are trying to determine the meaning of things already happening to you. You did not go out and buy a bunch of magazines to justify judging anyone else.

    You did what you did to help yourself.

    In the process, you helped me and many others of us.

    You are already coping with senselessly hurtful things, with hurtful patterns that affect who you believe yourself to be.

    You are using every tool at your disposal to come through healthy.

    I applaud you for that.

    I have posted before about being uncomfortable with the way medical diagnoses, especially psychiatric ones, label and dehumanize the person behind the symptoms, no matter whether it is a professional doing the labeling or not.

    So though I am uncomfortable with psychiatric diagnoses in general, I have learned enough through the things you have posted for us here to be able to put a little space between my abuser's actions and the perceptions of self I was taught at her hands.

    And that is a priceless, amazing thing.

    Additionally, there was something very healing in the knowledge that there is nothing personal about abuse; that abusive behaviors are about the abuser, not the abused. That understanding also came from the listings of behaviors common to a particular diagnosis.

    Everything, anything that helps us see our ways through is very good for us to have access to.

    You have nothing to be ashamed of or to feel badly about.

    Your postings have helped me put distance between my abuser and myself, and I appreciate it.

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  3. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    Nothing worthless about it. I know that Lil and I value your opinion and thank you greatly for all the help you've given us. Unfortunately labeling is a part of human nature. We strive to understand and you cant understand something be it an animal, an object, or a disorder without naming/labeling it because without a name you cant explain it to others.

    Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword. The more we understand a disorder and break it down into sub-categories, the higher the chance is that the name/label will hurt someone.

    I try not to label my son with my lay diagnosis. Yes, I've read up on Aspies and his behaviors are remarkably similar. Does that mean he has Asperger's? Not necessarily. One of the classic signs is lack of eye contact and, especially when he is in a mood, he rarely makes eye contact. On the same note when I was younger I was painfully shy so would look someone in the eye briefly then look away. The more social the meeting the more uncomfortable I was. Someone asking me for directions, no problem with eye contact. Trying to talk to a woman I liked, yeah that tended to be painful. I'm fairly certain that I don't have Asperger's. I'm just socially inept but slowly getting the hang of it!

    It would be nice to be able to live life without us labeling each other but stop and think about it, we all do it on a regular basis.
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  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Recognizing patterns in other people's behaviour can be valuable. At times so is understanding that those kind of patterns often match with certain other patterns or certain diagnosis. When dealing with that kind of people, knowing all that may give us a fair warning or may help us to relate certain behaviour. Let's take a developmental example: It is helpful for any parent to understand, why their two year old child suddenly seems to start their every sentence with the word 'no.' Or may throw extremely emotional tantrums over very small things. Understanding that behavioural pattern, why that person is behaving like that and what other type of behavioural patterns may be in store for you in coming months, helps the parent to relate on that behaviour and take appropriate actions.

    But where diagnosing 'terrible twos' for your two-year-old is rather easy, and you are likely to have all the facts, diagnosing other adult, or even your own teen child, with psychiatric diagnosis is totally different thing. You likely do not have all the facts. You are familiar with just one role that the person in question has. You often do not know how they relate to other people in other environments. And while it is easy to read all kinds of lists of symptoms, we, as laymen, rarely have an accurate understanding in what those symptoms really mean. How severe they have to be to count? Or what means that common part of these diagnosis that state that these symptoms should be present in many settings and they should cause significant difficulty to functioning. For example, we all have some narcissistic traits if we really do some deep soul searching. And under certain circumstances most of us are likely to behave in very selfish manner. Most of us still do not meet the criteria for NPD.

    It takes lots of clinical experience to know who much is significant, which amount of something is normal and which is abnormal. And lots of education before that to understand which type of issues may manifest in certain ways in person's behaviour. Like Jabber pointed out, for example person with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and person with social anxiety may behave in remarkable similar way in certain situations and the actual cause for that behaviour may be total opposite.

    I know I have committed some extremely selfish actions in my life and if you would pick those things out, and you don't need to lie at all, concentrate on those and then tell some other real things about me, that would support that kind of image, it would be rather easy to portray me as a narcissist or something like that. That portray would leave most of my character out, but it wouldn't be an actual lie, just maybe a lie by omission.

    PS. If you have to find out the NPD version of me, just ask my mother in law ;)
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    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  5. Confused

    Confused Active Member

    You have been helpful I agree with everyone. Honestly I used to get mad ( still do) on people making assumptions about me or my kids, but only the assumptions that they are just rotten for no reason or me. Now, again if it wasnt for you and so many more that I havent listed, so yes , everyone!!! I would have no ideas on what to look for ,the questions all of you asked me, sharing all of your experiences, sharing my experiences , demanding counselors, referrals, asking looking around. I listened for many many years my daughter was just shy, maybe anxiety, from her pediatrician. Then YOU AND ALL suggested she was Autism( asbergers ) Sensory Processing and yes, Anxiety.( to a tee she is) Son, with his issues you all gave suggestions, and I have still moving forward for him and getting the doctors both kids need for a final diagnoses!

    I do understand what your saying, and many diagnose can look like eachother, and for some, like the others said can just be a shy issues no issues. Like I tell my daughter when she gets in denial ( all the time) about anything being "wrong with her"as she says . I tell her and I mean this for her and my son and everyone else in the world" we are all just different no matter the issues" So a disorder if you will is just a type of "difference" in others.
  6. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Doctors have to give a diagnosis in order for ins. companies to pay. Is their diagnosis correct? It would depend on what they see that day and on what their personal view happens to be. My son has been diagnosed as having: ADHD, bipolar, conduct disorder, anti-social disorder...... it really does not matter. The medications have probably done as much harm as good. The bottom line is he is an 18 year old BRAT. He understands right from wrong. Has been taught all the proper coping skills, has been afforded the best care I could provide for him, but continues to CHOOSE to try to manipulate situations to his liking. When that does not happen, look out world. Real life is kicking his @$$. Maybe he will make different choices ........maybe.
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  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suzir, you have become my go-to person for sensible, logical responses. Of course, if somebody chooses to point out the selfish and negative things people do (and everybody has these areas they are not proud of), leaving out the good, it is easy for a stranger on a support site to say, "Uh, yeah! Borderline (BPD)! NPD! ABC!" Of course, for their own purposes, they never do mention the positives, even if they way outweigh the negatives. That just makes so much sense. I am so glad you responded and spoke so plainly and truthfully. Anyone can make almost anyone look like a disturbed person. All they have to do is list the bad things they have seen, with some embellishment, and leave out the positive things, the person will seem to be horrible. And that's what happens on these sites. BRILLIANT!

    Sadly, in my case, I can not think of anything good my mother has done for me or my kids since I turned about twenty five so I have nothing to counteract it. She has been nicer to my siblings, but I don't know exactly what she was like so I can't say. Nor did I say. I posted my own experience with her, which, unfortunately, is not good. And it did go back to childhood.

    I know my sister can be kind at times. She is not all bad. She is just, of late, very negative to me and, since this is the worst she has been, I assume it has to do with the fact that I would not listen to her talk about her boyfriend anymore. And I could see how she would think my boundary was controlling too. It was. But I had to do it for me. Still...nobody is all bad.

    My brother is not a bad person. He has lived a very unusual life and has bravely battled a very serious and painful illness and I have some respect for him, regardless of how he feels about me. But he does not understand family life, as in children and spouse. He can not relate to family problems. His students are his kids, but that's not the same thing.

    Can I diagnose them based on all that?

    Of cousre not.

    Nor can they diagnose me based on the negative while rejecting the positive.

    It is too bad the U.S. is so steeped in diagnoses. We can not get help without diagnoses. Our mental health system is broken. Hopefuly, this will change, but I'm not exactly waiting for that day. If you don't live in a big city, you will not get the quality you get in that big city.

    Thank you for your excellent insight.

    I wonder how many people post about family members on places like Borderline (BPD) Central and other sites that promote the personality disorder bit while that same person posts about

    Life is really kind of funny :) People are interesting. I've always been a people watcher.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2015
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Maybe it's clear to others, but I'm not sure I fully understand what you're trying to say.

    Do you mean that people are too ready to apply a label to someone even though they may be unqualified? This happens everywhere and not necessarily be a psychiatric label. It's about as meaningful. "He's a ratbag," is a common description in Australia. other labels which I suspect are not permitted on this site, are com monly applied in Australia. I myself have said about some people I know, "I'm sure she has narcissistic personality disorder," and although I am not a qualified psychiatrist by any means, that becomes my working hypothesis purely for personal preservation. If I get badly burned by someone I know and have previously trusted, I learn to not trust that person again.

    But do I engage others, try to bias them against that person by my inappropriate labels? Some people do. I don't want to because that sort of thing can come back to bite you.

    The purpose of a label - we tend to pigeonhole people and things in our lives, in order to better understand them. It is human nature.

    Having raised several spectrum kids, I reckon I know it very quickly when I see it. My kids reckon I see autism under every rock. I tell them that is with good reason.
    I'm still not medically qualified. But often when I call it, even in my own head, I later find out I was right. And if I'm wrong, it is still generally a valuable working hypothesis.

    As for people I know that I believe have a personality disorder - it is a warning bell that urges me to proceed with caution. And that caution is often (I find out afterwards) well founded.

    Another angle to watch for though - the person who labels you, with the label that is actually their own. For example, the thief that is always concerned someone is going to break in and steal his stuff, or the greedy person who accuses you of taking more than your share. So if a label gets applied to you and, after self-examination, it feels wrong - think about how well that label applies to the person who accused you of it.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is close to what I mean, except why use the diagnosis? Of course it is harmless to say it in your head, but, really, we DON'T know since so many things mimic one another. Of course if somebody has cheated you, abused you, used you, etc. I feel it is best to let go...who cares about the diagnosis? In my own head, I am starting to replace labels for "high drama people." They live dramatic lives and are always in woe and always attracted to people who fuel their drama, and are always fighting some catastrophe, then they want you to live their drama with them. No thanks. All done. I worked hard to have a peaceful life and high drama people, as I now prefer to call them, are not going to ruin the serenity I have found. High drama people tend to cause drama.Believe it or not, I had to learn both a different way of thinking myself and that certain people push my buttons, often on purpose.

    It's so very good to see you again here! :)
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Difference between the 'ratbag' (we tend to use a that type of term for male genitalia, that is not used in polite company to describe people like that) and 'NPD' (very popular to use nowadays around here, so popular that it is a joke already; "Let me guess, your ex is narcissus or other bulbous spring flower too?") is, that 'ratbag' gives person a benefit of the doubt. It makes it clear, that it is a personal opinion. Someone else's opinion may be different. If you call someone lying, cheating ratbag, it tells others that person in question has probably done something nasty to you or someone you are close to. That may indeed be a fact. Calling someone a NPD is telling others, that person in question is incurable, manipulating, abusing person that, if not yet has hurt you, is just grooming you to be hurt.

    When someone accuses you to have personality disorder, there is no way to defend yourself. Anything you do or say can be interpreted as a sign of personality disorder. If you for example behave nice, polite and reliable way to other people, that is just a sign that you are more dangerous person with personality disorder and fooling them all.

    Often these labels get given, when there is difficult situation between two people. One person gives a label to other person, but often there is another side of the coin too.

    'Ratbag' gives room for both improvement and acknowledging that other people may have different views to things that happened. 'NPD' does not.
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  11. Jabberwockey

    Jabberwockey Well-Known Member

    One of my favorite sayings is "We're all crazy. Some of us just hide it better than others and today I don't feel like hiding it!". Then again, something like that is usually commented on at work where if they ask "Are you crazy?!" I simply respond with "Its on the job application isn't it?".

    I tend to use crazy and mood/personality disorder interchangeably. I mean no insult, just use it to point out that we ALL have our issues.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Suzir and everyone,
    Besides the star I gave you, I want to say that his is EXACTLY what I mean. If somebody wants to paint you as borderline and tells somebody that you are (or narcissistic) you can not defend yourself. We have all done things that may sound a little crazy. The people use those examples to prove to others, who may or may not know you, that you are borderline. And, frankly, almost any sort of dramatic behavior can be called borderline, even if it's not. That is why labeling people with these indefensible
    disorders is dangerous and meant to harm. What if your place of work hears about this? I'm fortunate that way, but many people would be judged harshly by a boss. But ONLY if a real psychiatrist made the diagnosis, not if Joe Brother is PO'd at how his brother behaved last Thanksgiving.

    Most of the time the person has never been diagnosed by a therapist, but the teller doesn't explain that fact. Also, in reading a particular forum, I noticed that the tellers make these so-called undiagnosed borderlines 100% bad. They never bring up the good things they've done. My God, you'd think each and every person that these people describe is TED BUNDY'S CLONE! Nobody these tellers dislike and leave have ever done a good turn in their lives. Why? Well, if they told the good things, then the others wouldn't be so quick to judge them as undiagnosed borderlines.

    I made the mistake of telling a family member I think I had borderline when I was younger and my sister goes around shouting it to the moon, although I have been told since then by many professionals that this is not true...that if I had it I would not have had two very long term friends (one friendship ended due to death) or two long term marriages or good relationships with most of my kids, except for the one who could not be helped as he had attachment disorder, something that is always conveniently left out when she is trying to paint me in dramatic light. I was told flat out borderlines don't have long term relations, they self-abuse, they try suicide, most substance abuse, and that I am definitely NOT borderline. Now I do have a mood disorder and until she heard of borderline, she used to run around telling people I had bipolar. I don't have that either, but it is closer to the truth. A mood disorder is a mental illness. I have never even tried to deny that.

    I may have some traits. I'll bet she does too. And I know our mother did, but at least it wasn't popular to use t
    hat terminology back then or she would have heard it. Enough is enough.

    To label somebody who you don't like or don't approve of with a personality disorder is to put the person in an unwindable situation. Yet there are support groups out there for supposedly "normal" (cough) people to talk smack about their UNDIAGNOSED borderline in thier llife. And unlike here, where we consider no contact a last resort and certainly not forever if you can help it, these forums highly laud and recommend tossing out people you once loved or who once loved you out of their lives forever.

    Stable, balanced people (raise your hand if you know anybody like that ;) ) do not hang around with high drama, cruel, hurtful people. They don't choose to date them. They don't choose to befriend them. They do not choice to do much more than be polite to them in public. So who are these people who have so-called undiagnosed borderlines/anarchistic, paranoids, passive aggressive, etc. in their lives?

    The good part of this for me was to re-evaluate ever using these words to describe anybody, including myself and my family. Something was definitely wrong with my family of was toxic and sick to me and caused me trauma that still comes to me in my dreams, like a solider who has been in the war...obviously I did not have THAT degree of trauma and won't demean vets by saying so. It's just that I still, at my age, have horrible dreams about my mother doing horrible things to me and scaring me and I'm a little kid again. All I can label my family, in relation to me, is mean. I am not qualified to label anyone as anything else. So I learned something yet again :) The great thing about life (one of the great things) is that you are never too old to gain new understanding and this throwing around of dangerous labels, with nothing to back it up, is not something I ever again want to participate in. I'll stick to...Suzir...what as it? Ratbag? :) I like that better.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2015
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I do tend to "diagnose"... and I tend NOT to "label".

    SO... I figured out years ago that one of my friends has an Aspie hubby. THEY just figured it out this year. I never said a thing. But with that suspicion in my mind, it changed how I interacted with this person - for the better.

    To figure out for yourself that someone in your life is "fill in the blank diagnosis", may be positive. To go broadcasting that to the whole world, is not.

    If I have suspicions in my own mind, and others want to know what I think of so-and-so, I tend to say that the person "has issues". Whatever they are, be aware, or you'll trip on them too. But... whatever they are, is not mine to publicly diagnose.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When I got on Sister's site and read through her posts about me, I just shook my head. Her reality and mine are so different. As the scapegoat, my life was totally different than hers. She wrote nothing I didn't expect and I didn't read them all and I don't have any intention of signing up for that "we hate those who hate us and call them Borderline (BPD)." The posts were mean. All the posts on that site are mean. What a bunch!

    Anyway, I'm done labeling people with disorders when I'm no psychiatrist. I know this trend will pass. I'm happy. They're not. They can all me whatever they like. If Sis, the normal one, wants to spy on me here, that's ok too. Some people enjoy making themselves unhappy. Even "normal" people, I guess.
  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    InsaneCdn, I get you. If I label someone, I generally keep it to myself. Unless asked, by the same someone, if I think there is something wrong. Even then I mightn't say anything. A sociopath or NPD is the last person who wants to know their label. Diagnosing it formally (like diagnosing Munchhausen's) is pretty much impossible. A patient given such a diagnosis will generally leave and not come back, even if the label is a perfect fit. of course, if the label is not a good fit, they will probably still leave and not come back.

    So medically, these are not labels that are generally found in ongoing treatment (although I daresay there are exceptions).

    In my own situation - I'll probably still keep labelling people in my own head. As for what I might say to others - it depends on the situation, but I avoid psychiatric labels. For example, someone I spent some time talking to last week who I've always got on well with, showed me that her hippie-style approach to life has morphed into what I consider to be a tenuous grip on reality. She now scares people. I wouldn't even try to label her with formal diagnosis, or even hazard a guess as to what such a diagnosis might be. but to me, and my family when I was warning them - she's "nutso". Totally off the wall. Talking to dinner plates (she told me so herself). It goes beyond eccentric into Twilight Zone.

    As for "ratbag" - sorry if it offends. It is difficult to find a term that conveys the meaning I want, without it being offensive to someone. I mean, our politicians use words like that in parliament all the time, they're not offensive here. The famous "your parents weren't married" noun (trying to duck the site censor here) has thousands of meanings in Australia, most of them fairly inoffensive. It depends on the intonation and the other words used with it. A "stingy [person without parents]" has the totally opposite meaning to "not a bad [person without parents" which is actually a term of endearment, a way of saying you're best mates.

    I had thought the term I used was a lot safer. Oh, well...

    Then there's "Richard Cranium" or saying someone has circumcision scars on his neck.

    Is "drongo" okay?

    As for my hippie friend - "the lift doesn't stop on the top floor." "Light's on but nobody's home." "More cuckoo than clock". "A sandwich short of a picnic." And a flamin' nuisance. Ruddy drongo...

    Wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire.

  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Around these parts: "A few bricks short of a load", "on another planet", "space cadet"...
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If somebody will say it out loud, usually it isn't true and is meant just to hurt or to make them let you know they are the "normal" one.

    Even if we do label people in our heads, and I'm sure I'll still do it too, that doesn't mean our label is correct. Even psychiatrists can make mistakes. It is a very inexact science right now. In my youth, autism was thought to be (at least in the U.S.) a very serious form of schizophrenia caused by (can't forget this little slam at mothers) "refrigerator moms." It was the mother's fault.
    Of course, we now know that autism isn't a psychiatric issue at all, but a neurological difference.

    I'm a self-taught scholar of psychology, yet the more I learn, the less I trust that everything won't be way different even in five years. If psychiatrists don't know what people have, we don't either. We can choose to stay away from people who cause drama or trouble or are malicious without giving the person a label. I really don't care what somebody is labeled. If you love drama, cause your own drama, drink too much, or are malicious in intent, and I've known a few, then I just stay away. I really don't understand why people are like that.

    I heard something interesting on a YouTube Psychiatrists's tape last night. "There is no such thing as true hate Hate is pain and hurt, nothing more." I don't know if everyone agrees, bit as he explained it, I agreed with him.