Have you ever received a call at 3:00 a.m. from a girlfriend who insists she needs to see you in person A.S.A.P.? Does your boss ever make you feel like an amateur who can’t get anything right? Do you find yourself feeling guilty when you know you’ve done nothing wrong? If any of these scenarios ring a bell and you find yourself feeling used and manipulated around a certain individual, you could be dealing with someone whose toxic behaviour is making you miserable!
Psychiatrist Stan Kapuchinski, M.D., is the author of the new book Say Goodbye to Your PDI (Personality Disordered Individual). A PDI is an individual who is self-centered, manipulative, controlling and refuses to change.
“These people have a behavioural disorder because they do not adapt, are not flexible, and behave in a way that says, ‘It’s all about me,'” explains Dr. Kapuchinski. “They are basically still children trapped in an adult’s body.”
Dr. Kapuchinski, who lives, practices, and writes psychiatry in Florida, says the first step to getting rid of the people in your life that make you miserable is by knowing how to recognize them. He says often the victims of PDIs blame themselves for their misery. They turn a blind eye towards their loved ones and make excuses for them.
“Many times, a person will walk into my office, either a man or a woman, and tell me they’re depressed,” says Dr. Kapuchinski. “They begin to talk about their significant other and how they always argue. And at some point that person will say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!’ That’s the punch line. That’s what immediately tells me that this person is dealing with a PDI.”
Part of the psychological make-up of a PDI, says Dr. Kapuchinsky, is that he/she knows how to arouse various emotions in the other person, either good or bad. For example, they may inspire you to feel guilty or fill you with admiration. First they provoke you and then they wait for a reaction. They always know how to use your feelings against you.
Melissa Manzo, 21, has been dealing with a PDI for quite some time now. Just a few weeks ago, Manzo received a desperate call from her long time “drama queen” friend. Her friend’s grandmother was in the hospital with a fractured hip so she had asked Manzo to call a mutual friend vacationing in Cuba and tell her the news.
“She said it was super urgent and that if I was a friend, I’d do her the favor,” explains Manzo. “I couldn’t believe how much she exaggerated the whole situation.”
In his book, Dr. Kapuchinski singles out the five most common types of PDIs: the Passive-Aggressive, the Histrionic, the Anti-social, the Borderline and the Narcissist.
“These guys are the complainers,” explains Dr. Kapuchinski. “They act as if they are victims of life.”
The Passive-Aggressive personality disorder encompasses the most miserable of PDIs. They will make you feel sorry for them and want to help them, but you can never do enough because they will always put you in the wrong.
“An example of a passive-aggressive PDI is a guy in movie theater who has his legs out in the aisle, making it impossible for you to pass,” says Dr. Kapuchinski. “He’ll moan and groan make a big deal out of having to move because of the inconvenience you are causing him.”
In Dr. Kapuchinski’s own words, “This is the real drama queen!” This type of PDI is made up of mostly women. She is the outgoing, attractive woman who is always putting on a show. She’s also very needy. Histrionic Personality Disordered (HPD) individuals are people of extremes.
“Everything is the best, the worst, or the most with these women,” says Dr. Kapuchinski. “There is nothing in between.” They will suck you in by saying they absolutely need you. They’ll say something like: “I just know you’re the best person to help me right now.”
This group of PDIs is made up of mostly men.
“They are the compulsive liars and cheaters of our society. Even when you confront them, they’ll lie to your face!”
A scenario where it’s clear the man is an anti-social PDI is one where a wife has just caught her husband out with another woman. She may approach her husband and say: “What the hell are you doing here with her?” Her husband will react by saying: “We’re having a business meeting. What the hell are you doing spying on me?”
Or he’ll very smoothly convince his wife it’s her fault because she should have never been out in the first place. Dr. Kapuchinski refers to these PDIs as “smooth operators.”
The Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) walks a thin line between sanity and madness. What initially attracts you to the BPD; are the intense emotional and behavioural extremes that initially seem attractive.
For example, a BDI will tell you that you are the most important person in their life which will make you feel great. But once you are seduced, the BPD can interpret your most innocent gesture as something negative. They can spiral out of control in rage. “Borderline PDIs seem like the perfect man or woman in the beginning of the relationship,” says Dr. Kapuchinski. “Once they’ve locked you in, the chaos begins.”
This PDI honestly believes he/she is hot stuff. The Narcissistic Personality Disordered (NPD) individual is a self-absorbed, egotistical person who sees himself/herself as superior to the rest of society.
“Although this may sound like someone you’d run away from, the NPDs are masters at trapping you with their accomplishments and success,” explains Dr. Kapuchinski.
“They will promise you fame and fortune.” According to Dr. Kapuchinski, the most famous narcissist of all is Donald Trump.
“Those people on his show are in awe of him,” says Dr. Kapuchinski, referring to Trump’s reality show The Apprentice. “But once he hires you, he’ll never let you become as successful as he is.”
NPDs will never fulfill their promise of success because they will do whatever it takes to keep you from stealing their limelight. It’s all about them and how good you make them look.
Like Manzo, chances are you’ve run into at least one of these types of people in your life. It could’ve been someone you met briefly at work or someone you’re around everyday. According to Dr. Kapuchinski, PDIs are everywhere and target just about anyone.
Marco Cianci, 21, knows first-hand how a narcissist can make someone feel inadequate. A co-worker at the restaurant he helps manage is constantly exaggerating about all the money he “supposedly” has, and houses he owns. In the meantime, he works as a chef.
“Every time you talk to this guy you feel like you’re not good enough,” says Cianci. “He says he works just to pass the time, making the other employees, who are dependent on their income, feel like losers.”
So what do you do if you find yourself constantly dealing with a Personality Disordered Individual? According to Dr. Kapuchinski, the ultimate solution is discontinuing the relationship with that person.
If that’s not possible (say if the person is in your family or someone who you care deeply for), he says to try other alternatives. For example, if your brother is the narcissistic type, who believes he is God’s gift to the world, you could simply enjoy the show, feel free to contradict him, or just leave the room.
“The most important thing to remember is if whatever you’re doing isn’t working, don’t continue doing it,” insists Dr. Kapuchinski.
Dr. Jeffrey Levitt, psychologist and Coordinator of Counselling and Psychological Services at Concordia University, says self-awareness is your best defence.
“You need to be aware of who you are and what your primary values are,” says Dr. Levitt. “If you know your boundaries, then it will be much easier to self-assert yourself.”
Dr. Levitt acknowledges having the confidence to stand up for oneself doesn’t come easily to everyone. This is why some are more vulnerable than others to PDIs.
“You have to remember that even though these people [PDIs] are all around us, you have a choice as to whether or not to be around them,” says Dr. Levitt.
Dr. Kapuchinski agrees that every individual has this choice; however his concern is that not everyone will recognize a PDI when faced with one.
Through his book, he hopes to open people’s eyes and give them the tools they need to take control of their life and the people they surround themselves with.