I think I’m becoming an abusive person. In recent years I’ve started to care less and less about friends and family, the only reason I made friends this year was to use them as stepping ladders to benefit my ego and social image. I know I’m very manipulative over my family, and I know it’s bad. I just don’t feel guilty, or maybe I choose to ignore it when I hurt them. I truly resent being around them, as unappreciative as that is. I constantly try to control them or make them miserable illogically and impulsively. I threaten my father with physical harm or accuse him of having no emotions, and blame my mother for being manipulative and vain. Both of them were verbally/psychologically abusive towards me in my childhood. They despise each other and I have no love for my father. The only reason is to assure myself I have full control over them. I know one day I’ll push it too far but that doesn’t concern me in the slightest. Contrary, driving someone to insanity or death makes me feel safe, self-assured, and accomplished. Affection is unbearably threatening. They don’t fight back because they’re scared I’ll try to kill myself again. I know I don’t deserve any tolerance or kindness due to my behavior but I’m numb to shame.

What actually makes me worried is my future work/personal relationships. I’m terrible with receiving and giving affection, to the point where it noticeably damages the mental health of those around me. I subconsciously know that people (might) have relatively good intentions but I always push them away with harsh words, intolerance or criticism. I feel like if I don’t, they’ll ruin my efforts and take advantage of me. The thought of anyone having control over me is vile and infuriating. I want at least one healthy relationship but whenever the opportunities arise I become possessive and emotionally manipulative, then cut them off entirely. I’ve been in denial about this but it’s pretty clear that I’m the shitty person that’s to blame. I guess these little things don’t really matter on a large scale but I worry. Is this going to go away with time? If not, how do I fix myself? (From the USA)

I deeply appreciate your email and the courage it takes to ask this question. The part of you that wrote this email and requesting help is the part of you that needs to continue to step forward. It is the part of your awareness that is most in touch with your ability to change. Without it there is not a likelihood that you will see these issues go away in time. In fact, it tends to be that conditions worsen without a deliberate approach to improvement.

While I cannot diagnose, I would recommend you learn more about something known as an antisocial personality disorder. If you read the material we have here at Psych Central by Dr. Donald Black, MD, you’ll see what this particular condition looks like. I think you will see it identifies and discusses the symptoms and treatment. Here are a few indicators from this article that echo the things you’ve discussed.

  • Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated 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 the 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

You need not have all of these to be identified — and of course, I can be wrong about this, but I would highly recommend you begin individual psychotherapy and then group psychotherapy with someone with experience in treating this condition. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you find someone in this area.

Take your initiative to write us here and put it to good use by following up with therapy. Your desire to change is the most important feature in changing who you are.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral