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Dr John B
Dr John B, Psychologist
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Experience:  PhD in Clinical Psychology, registered clinical psychologist.
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What presentation would be expected from a mid-50s woman with

Resolved Question:

What presentation would be expected from a mid-50's woman with suspected Antisocial Personality Disorder, parasitic subtype?

How could this woman's motives and actions be determined?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.

Hi,

ASPD Parasitic Type is a Psychodynamic concept relating to a subgroup of ASPD that is characterized by lying, manipulativeness, cheating, stealing but not aggressive behavior common to other sub-groups of ASPD. A noteworthy feature of this concept is that this kind of person can exist in certain dysfunctional environments with their disturbed behavior going almost entirely unrecognized. The 'Parasitic type' subgroup is not officially recognized by the wider Psychiatric community outside the Psychodynamic field so the concept is of questionable validity. I apologize if I'm telling you things you know here, just thought I'd start with a little background information.

So, if a person met this kind of personality pattern how might we expect her to present? As the key features of this diagnosis are lying, stealing, manipulation and cheating we would expect to see a clear and pervasive pattern of these behaviors over a long period of time, possibly the majority of the lifetime. A 'pervasive pattern' means that we would expect to see these behaviors across a broad range of situations and contexts and not just limited to one are of life. For example, we would expect to see these behaviors in an occupational setting, in a social setting, in the family setting, etc. The concept of personality disorder in general inherently refers to a dysfunctional personality so we would expect to significant consequences for these behaviors. We would expect to see these behaviors damage relationships, impede occupational functioning, increase the risk of harm to the self or others, increase the risk of incarceration or increase the risk of death. I assume we are discussing a person you know, are you aware of a stable pattern of behaviors that have these kinds of consequences? The specific actions we could expect would be direct extensions of these kind of behaviors. For example, we might see stealing, manipulation within the work environment for gain, tax evasion, frequent lying, etc.

What might the motives of this kind of person be? Person's with ASPD generally have a pathological inability to empathize, understand the needs or wants of others and have a shallow limited self concept. Thus, their motives usually revolve around personal gain. Without a developed moral sense or ability to consider the other person people with ASPD can often be very goal directed - they take or do what they need to get what they want. They are often also very impulsive.

I'll stop here and await any follow up questions you might have before proceeding further. I'm assuming you may have questions about a specific person?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes - this I knew. It's my biological mother actually.

Her primary goal seems to be fashioning her immediate relatives to some sort of story - none of which we are privy to. She seeks to paint a static picture of her own design. For example, while my father was dying of cancer, I was kept away and only managed to get in during the final moments. He *clearly* wanted me to talk, her instructions were to remain silent. I opted to speak as I was there for the guy dying of cancer. Earlier in this process, I was accused of muderous intent and they called in a psychiatrist, in theory to haul me off to psych jail (or wherever people go). Instead, said psychiatrist said "wow, that was f**ked up - let's get a coffee" (she is ranked #3 in the province and practicing for over 20 years). She has authored one book which is full of odd inconsistencies.

She is dangerous, tactically brilliant, and is exceptionally skilled at manipulation, and my life to this point has been defined by trying to fight her, hide, or escape. I am trying to *move on*. Her emotional pallete is limited primarily to fear and anxiety, anger is rare and usually diagnostic of having gone "off the story" - whatever that is.

The overall purpose of this question (and others I will ask in the mental health section) is not to apply a label, but to do my level best to ascertain her motive / "end game" so that I might predict her next action and thus be prepared for it. I *had* this down to a very good level until she moved... where I do not know, but its potentially important.

The ultimate goal is to legally change my name out of necessity, emigrate and be free.
Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.
If your mother has developed ASPD (and you seem to have detailed insight into her situation so I see no reason to doubt you on this) then placing as much distance physically, emotionally, socially, etc is probably the best strategy. APSD can be impulsive an unstable so prediction of future behavior can be a risky business, although it sounds like you developed quite a knack for it. Just to clarify, has she moved away to an unknown location? If so, is she trying t stay in contact with you in any way?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, this is sort of the problem. I was abandoned for failing to synch up with the script. This wouldn't be an issue save for my father's will - which used to provide money for his children (including myself) and Cancer Research (i.e. the thing he had twice, set up a center for and died of) but then changed sometime during the lead-up to his death so it all went to her. She retained legal counsel, so did I. Her strategy seems to have been to starve me out - but I am persistent.

Cards on the table, there's a fair bit of coin at stake here. There's plenty of cash for everybody. I have a large large number of issues and medical problems stemming from, well this person and require more therapy and treament, all of which costs a fair bit. ex. never had a girlfriend and resorted to sports and spa massages just to get basic human touch. I'm 32 (and not for a lack of trying). This cash could mean the difference between finally *thriving* and contributing to the greater good, or barely getting by and having to work my tail off just for the extensive dental so as not to loose my teeth (these people should not have had children).

I have been providing my counsel with insights into her possible motives and actions. At first, he was skeptical and was running things "as if' she were normal (but messed up, grieving or whatever), but has come around to the view that "something is funky here" after their actions didn't fit with his legal experience.

Hence, as mentioned, I'm trying to figure out what she wants...

Her moving out of that house was unanticipated, and as such, I cannot aid my counsel further. Her thirst for cash is also confusing as my father worked his tail off (we grew up poor, but then he 'made it' in oil), and employed income splitting, i.e. she's got ooodles of her own, and doesn't spend much (or didn't anyways) - so I don't know what she wants to do with the estate that she can't do now off her own dime.
Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.
Money, power or both can still be powerful motivators for people who would seem to have an endless supply anyway. It sounds as though there has been some tactical maneuvering on her behalf around the administration of the will so it is probably a reasonable assumption that she wants control of the estate for either it's material worth or as a means by which to exert influence over those people it is important to. You say that she does have considerable financial means anyway, so how likely (in your opinion) is it that this is a convoluted attempt at maintaining a capacity to manipulate you (and anyone else involved)? This of course would fit in with the idea of Parasitic Type ASPD.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
For me, in my opinion, it is an attempt at control. Or rather, since I refused to be controlled, this is punishment. Her actions seem to be trying to force me to stay in my hometown and work a job I will loathe. I hate the city where I grew up in, but am not without skills - I have three B.Sc.'s (one in EE), a pilot's license, I am published and had the privellege to visit and learn from 56 countries. I want **out**, but I am dependent on Canadian health care and my primary therapist.

I also have my father's entrepreneurial spirit, and while not currently capable of managing that kind of money, I am a quick learner. That is to say, with sufficient funds, I will happily leave, returning only every 6 months or so for Rx refills and to check-in with my doctor. I think she wants me stuck and wants me suffering.

My brother (I am the eldest) took "my role" and is now enacting the same relationship pattern as my parents. My therapist calls him a "psychological write-off" (unofficially of course). My sister is playing along but is soooo incredibly angry without insight into her anger. So she found religion, got quite militant and angry about it and seems to be finding that fake bliss/happiness; Its a bit creepy but I wish her well.

BUT - its the "idealized story" in her head I need to try to figure out. That was always how I did it before, that's where the explanatory power came from. She painted herself into a corner, into that house, "broke" the dog (the dog was fine... last time I saw him.. seemed to have issues) and I expected her to stay there. Moving out somewhere else means... a new idealized story.
Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.

I'm assuming that you were able to determine the idealized story because you had ready access to information that you likely now don't have. Can you think of the kinds of information that previously lead you to develop an accurate understanding of the idealized story? Are you able to access that kind of information now in an alternate manner? That is, what do you need to find out to begin to build a picture?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I know *one set* of information that would allow me to guess at the idealized story in her head. I don't know how to get at it now. BUT to get at the basics, I would need to know the basics:

1) Location (city), and dwelling (ginormous house? bungalow? condo?) Neighborhood is important, social status is one of her "things"
2) Living situation - alone? with the dog? with my siblings?
3) Stated occupational goal (it was always to write "her book", but having read it... she spent far more time than required to crank that out)
4) How she actually spends her time day-to-day
5) Stated reason for going-after the entire estate or bemoaning me for tying it up in court, and a rough idea of what she's planning to do with it.

Part of the punishment is because I am similar to my father in many respects; she abused him to get him making money past his preference, and abused me to try to get me to fall in line. Of all the siblings, I am the most able to effect change in the world and in her mind, I was "meant" to take over my father's "position" - I also have characteristics my father did not that she likes, and lacked some he had that she didn't like. <shudder> Creepy, icky gross - I'm in therapy for a reason. Right, back on track,

The most expedient way to get some of this information would be private investigation. I am considering that. However, she is brilliant and if caught (while legal), said investigation could do more harm to my case than good.

I am ostracized, there is no one left who is even willing to talk to me, let alone give me good information without informing her that I had made contact. I was hoping there might be another way to ascertain which way she might be going now...

Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.

Without having any information about her current situation it would seem almost impossible to know what she is planning. It is not possible to predict a specific person's behavior based on possible diagnostic classification as the diagnostic categories allow for massive idiosyncratic variation and are based upon patterns observed across populations, not within individuals. You could use diagnostic features to anticipate patterns of behavior over time 'in theory' but this would not be a particularly reliable way to predict the behavior of any one person. The influence of a personality disorder is only one of many, many factors that influence a person's behavior and so attempting to predict her actions in this way could be a futile endeavor.

I can discuss the potential theoretical implications of ASPD with you but I'd be misrepresenting reality if I tried to suggest her behavior could be predicted based on clinical theory. I guess this is not really the answer you were hoping for but I hope this conversation has been helpful in some way. If you have further questions or would like me to elaborate on any part of what I have written please let me know.

Dr John B, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 557
Experience: PhD in Clinical Psychology, registered clinical psychologist.
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Expert:  Dr John B replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Just thought I'd check in and see how you were coming along devising a stratgey for anticipting your mother's actions. If I can be of any further assitance or if you ever have any other questions in the future please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Regards,

John

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