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Dr John B
Dr John B, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  PhD in Clinical Psychology, registered clinical psychologist.
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What defines a control freak? Is this a part of NPD

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what defines a control freak? Is this a part of NPD


Just to clarify, by NPD are you referring to Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am.
My wife doesn't distinguish between or react to events in a proportionate or appropriate way...a wrong left turn on the road gets the same response as would being caught red handed with another woman. Her responses are unbalanced in their vehemence...she makes no apologies and pretends that it never happened.

She interferes with and tries to destroy friendships. She is never apologetic and, indeed, never sees any problem with her behavior.

She never agrees with even simple statements and responds with an opinion that is 180 degrees out.

What is this about?

Hi George,

Thanks for the extra information. Before I go further just one more question; does this behavior reflect a recent change or is it long standing?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The behavior is long is only recently that I have started to understand the pattern and to make sense of it. If I can understand it I will be better able to deal with it. My thought is that she plays a little movie in her head that tells her what is happening moment by moment and she reacts with panic if any part of any scene is not according to the script. The reactions are uniformly disproportionate whatever the magnitude of the issue, minute or overwhelming. My conclusion is that the reaction is uniform because the issue is always the same, loss of control!

The term 'control freak' is a slang term for which the closest related clinical term is 'a pathological need for control'.

A pathological need for control is not usually considered a feature of NPD but it is often seen in other disordered personality presentations. Perfectionism often involves an overwhelming need for control and so does antisocial personality disorder ASPD. ASPD is quite rare (especially in women) and also involves a range of other particularly unsavory traits (it's also known as Psychopathy), so we ca probably presume it isn't that.

Does she display any other perfectionistic tendencies?

Alternatively, it may not be part of a personality disorder as such but just a strong problematic personality trait. Does she by chance have a history of trauma?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The only trauma of which I am aware is witnessing her drunken father kicking her pregnant mother in the abdomen inducing a premature delivery fraternal twins. My wife, 9 or 10 years old became the the twins until she graduated high school and went to college.

Definitely a perfectionist whether it is a schedule, a household chore,driving a car, cleaning a spot on a carpet, following directions or name it...totally compulsive.

Also definitely anti-social, has no close friends and drives mine away.

We can never really know for sure why a person develops particular personality traits but even based on the limited information you have provided there one could understand how that environment (situation) when young could foster a profound need for control.

Her childhood sounds rather traumatic and we often see people who experience intense trauma develop 'hair trigger' tempers. It may be that the traits you are having difficulty with are a product of her childhood and even if they don't reflect a PD they must certainly make life's a challenge at times.

While I doubt she has ASPD I am happy to go through the specific criteria with you if you'd like?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Please do! I'd appreciate it. I feel like I need all of the info I can get in order that I can understand what's going on quietly and not lose MY is enough. Thanks

Ok, take a look at the criteria below and then let me know which criteria you think she does or doesn't meet. We can discuss them in more detail if we think they are relevant.

Diagnostic Features:

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by persistent disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. Deceit and manipulation are central features of this disorder. For this diagnosis to be given, the individual must be at least 18, and must have had some symptoms of Conduct Disorder (i.e., delinquency) before age 15. This disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing.

Diagnostic Criteria:

Three or more of the following are required:

  • Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as
    indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  • Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  • Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain
    consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  • Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing
    having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Since these antisocial behaviors are commonly observed in children and
adolescents, this disorder is only diagnosed if these antisocial behaviors
persist into adulthood (i.e., if age is 18 or older). The diagnosis of Antisocial Personality requires that there was evidence of delinquency (Conduct
Disorder) with onset before age 15 years. This is in contrast to the (non-DSM-IV) diagnosis of being a psychopath which does not require a prior diagnosis of Conduct Disorder. The diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder is not made if the occurrence of antisocial behavior occurs exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

definitely not ASPD. Many thanks for your time and expertise...I am better armed for the relationship and I accept your answers.

Until next time,

You are very welcome George. Good luck!

Hi George,

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