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Author Topic: My therapist suggested that my mother's PD may be co-morbid with Aspergers  (Read 768 times)
UKannie
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« on: February 23, 2012, 06:26:07 AM »

That has really thrown me, partly because I can see why she said it. But I feel my mother is too manipulative and too chameleon-like to have anything on the autistic spectrum.

Most of all I have this irrational feeling that even an armchair diagnosis of Aspergers gives my mother a "free pass". Like she is 'blind' to what she is doing, so we should feel sorry she didn't get the right help when she was a kid and leave it at that.

I hope I don't kick off a storm by starting this thread. I don't claim to fully understand all the potential ways Aspergers can manifest.

I just have an emotional response to anyone suggesting anything other than a Cluster B Personality Disorder is responsible for the emotional, verbal and physical abuse and neglect my mother inflicted. I can't fully understand my own emotional response to this. I am interested in any comments.

   Annie
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tiredmommy2
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 06:53:40 AM »

Because I have a mother who leans way towards the NPD/AsPD side of things, and a daughter with Asperger's I have a whole lot to say about this one.  I'll be back in a few when I can type freely.
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bluecup11
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 07:19:52 AM »

Oh Annie, I get how you're feeling, that would throw me too.

I have limited experience with Asperger's but something happened recently that you might find of interest. I follow this wildlife page on facebook and a couple of private groups have sprung out of it. There's one group of women that I talk to quite a bit - haven't met any of them - but friendships formed and so did this group. There's one woman in the group that comes off as very intelligent yet very cold. When she has a position on something there is no escaping her position. If you state fact to her and it doesn't jibe with what she believes to be true, she will hammer you with opposition. It's incredibly unpleasant. She will also make never-ending personal attacks and has zero concept of empathy, etc.  A few of us suspect she has Asperger's; the autistic spectrum is in her family.

So cut to the fallout: most of us have left the group. Just cannot deal with her anymore. It's impossible, and life is too short to use free time that way. There's no stopping her behavior. A few people don't mind it and stayed - I'm not sure why - even they say she goes too far but they stayed. She has actually posted that she's there to make people feel uncomfortable.

Now I have no idea if she has a comorbid PD or not, it doesn't really seem so.

Anyway, bottom line is - I can acknowledge that she really can't help it. Her social cues are not like other people's. But there is no way I'm going to have to deal with it. So, the behavior is not ok...combined with BPD I can only imagine what you're dealing with...

BPD is an illness, so is Asperger's ... I think it's ok to acknowledge both as such, but that doesn't mean the behavior is ok?

Do you ever listen to This American Life? (it's so great!) - anyway last week they had a story of a woman who found out her husband has Asperger's and his efforts to change his behavior toward her. Might be worth a listen as he does NOT have a PD and you'll see someone trying to change, which a BPD would not (I think)

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/458/play-the-part
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kittykat63
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 07:23:12 AM »

i know what you mean...it can be just another card that they play. but i fear the therapist may be right. i understand people can have mild autism. its a lack of imagination...not having empathy or sympathy for how others feel- i know BPD people are like this also- but autistic people just show an ignorance towards other peoples sufferings.  you yourself has to be the best judge on these things- have you found communicating with your mum completely tiresome- to the point of giving up as she lacks imagination to talkabout subjects? has she shown she has special needs? help with the shopping and communicating?

i agree- it does sound a bit fishy doesnt it...
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kittykat63
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 07:28:36 AM »

my 16 year old son has a friend who has mild autism- weve always tried to understand. but lately ive felt the autistic card has been played to gte away with treating someone like sht- he picks my son up and down as he pleases. i think because my son has always been there- he gets taken for granted- hes not one of the cool kids. he lets my son down and has no regard for his feelings what so ever. his mum also says "he cant help it" and then i feel- well, you make things worse- if you cant show him any guidance and tell him how to treat people- how is he going to have any chance?

so i said to my son- forget it- leave him well alone and dont contact him again.

we see updates on facebook now- he gets lonely and morose- lots of teenage anx about his love life- if he was shown the right way to treat people- he could go out with my son for a day out and take his mind off of things- he deserves to be lonely at the moment

im sorry that sounds harsh- but weve had years and years of being poicked up and dropped- like my son is an object to be used. and his mum never corrects him

yes he is autistic- but what about us? what about the normal people- about our feelings and rights? to some extent they have to learn to live in our world- and people must guide them and tell them when they are dishing out shtty treatment
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UKannie
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 07:45:49 AM »

Because I have a mother who leans way towards the NPD/AsPD side of things, and a daughter with Asperger's I have a whole lot to say about this one.  I'll be back in a few when I can type freely.

I'm all ears tiredmommy, really I am, when you get the chance
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PinkTeddyBear
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 08:00:58 AM »

Hi UKAnnie,

This is a tough one.  Unfortunately, Asperger's is a really, really misunderstood illness, moreso than PD.  People with PD and Asperger's lack empathy and cannot really communicate in an effective way.  Your T was just throwing it out there, hoping that a part of you would accept that your mother's behavior is not YOUR fault.  My T has done similar things when referring to my parents.  But nonetheless, bad behavior IS bad behavior.

Here's my $0.02 on this issue.  I'm not an expert by ANY MEANS, but I have a colleague at my American university who suffers from Asperger's.  She's a capable linguist in the sense that she can acquire languages fairly quickly, but she doesn't understand human interactions (empathy, humor, diplomacy, etc.) very well.  Yet her social mishaps, while common, are not intentional; several of us have had to say to her, "Uh, X, that wasn't the right thing to say."  Although she doesn't express remorse per se, she does attempt to copy us, knowing that's the intellectually right thing to do.  It is NOT a lack of imagination, but rather a bad neurological connection in the brain.  I use her as an example because I'm fairly sure that she does not have a PD.    

However, just like any illness, a person can have Asperger's and a PD.  Bluecup, I'll come out and say that I think that nasty woman has NPD or APD (with possible Asperger's).  The reason being is that she demonstrates awareness that her behavior is wrong before she does it.  A person with Asperger's has trouble, if not finding it impossible, to make that determination.  In other words, the best that they can do is know after the fact.  I think this is key (someone with more experience can jump in here, but that's my intuition).  From what I've observed in people with non-PD autism, there doesn't seem to be the level of intent that exists in people with PD.            

Just a final word/reminder: let's get away from painting people with autism as all one thing or another.  Just like "normal people," they can act relatively decently or can act like a$$holes.  I think there is always one small subset in the larger set that uses his/her diagnosis as an excuse, whether it's diabetes, dyslexia, PD, or autism.  As someone with different neurology - I'm dyslexic - and as someone who has worked with people with disabilities, I can say that with absolute certainty.  Everyone has "special needs" in some way.

PTB  
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tiredmommy2
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 08:19:47 AM »

UKAnnie, I think I really do understand what you're feeling right now. My last T was insistent upon discussing my mother's trauma history, and trying to suggest that she could have PTSD along with a PD.  I also can't explain what I was feeling at the time, but I was very taken aback. Perhaps it was because I had already spent over 30 years rationalizing her behavior, and couldn't bring myself to think about anything involving another excuse for her behavior. Whatever it was, I didn't want to hear about it, or think about it.

As far as people with Asperger's go, they have a reduced ability to read social cues, so when it comes to facial expressions or body language, many times they are lost; this is what makes them look like they have limited feelings or empathy. The difference is that once they understand your situation, they will be just as compassionate as anyone else.  Example:  I injured my foot and ended up limping.  My Aspie daughter saw the grimace on my face, and saw my limping, and burst out in laughter. All she knew is that I was walking funny with a weird look on my face, so it was hilarious to her.  Once I explained to her what happened, and that I was in a lot of pain, she stopped laughing and became very concerned for me.  

The other thing is that Aspies are known to tell it like it is.  If you ask one of them a question, be prepared for the honest answer because there really is no filter like NT (neuro typical) people have. Example: I went away for the weekend, and when I got back, I jokingly asked my daughter if she missed me.  She said, "No, not really.  I had fun when you were gone."  She didn't say this to hurt my feelings; this was how she really felt, and without that social filter that the rest of us have, she had no reason to tell me anything different.  

My PD mother has been known to laugh when I injured myself, but the difference is that she understood clearly how I felt, but takes too much pleasure out of the pain of others to hide it.  She would also tell me that she didn't miss me, but it would be said as an intentional dig at me, like her way of saying, "You're really not that important." She is also very chameleon-like and manipulative, while my Aspie daughter is not.

PD mother was extremely neglectful towards me, but managed to care for others (her men and my GC brother), so that means that it was a choice. She hugged me once in my life, and that was when I was really young, and after an episode of physical abuse (she wanted me to stop crying). My Aspie daughter isn't big on hugging or touching either, but that's due to her sensory issues.

Whether your mother has Asperger's or not, I would say that it absolutely does not excuse her behavior.  I've been around plenty of people with varying degrees of autism, and I can honestly say that I have never seen violence with an Aspie. It does happen when people with autism are lower-functioning sometimes, but much of the time it's due to frustration stemming from their inability to communicate - once they are given tools to communicate, much of this behavior stops. So no, your mother does not get a free pass on this one.

Edited to add:  I just saw PTB's response and wanted to add one more thing (as if I didn't say enough already  lol).  My Aspie daughter has a conscience, genuinely feels bad when she understands that she has done something wrong, and learns quickly from her mistakes...None of the above with my mother.  She knows what she's doing is wrong (the proof is how carefully she has covered some of her crimes), chooses to do it anyway, and doesn't feel badly about it afterwards.

Hopefully some of this helps.  
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 08:25:52 AM by tiredmommy2 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 09:47:23 AM »

As far as people with Asperger's go, they have a reduced ability to read social cues, so when it comes to facial expressions or body language, many times they are lost; this is what makes them look like they have limited feelings or empathy.

This is where I have a hard time understanding how someone could have both a BPD and Aspergers diagnosis. As I understand it, people with BPD are highly attuned to our body language and facial expressions. They can read our emotions; yet, they just don't have the capacity to care about our emotions over theirs. Having both BPD and Aspergers seems like an oxymoron. Can anyone explain how it would be possible?

I've been around plenty of people with varying degrees of autism, and I can honestly say that I have never seen violence with an Aspie. It does happen when people with autism are lower-functioning sometimes, but much of the time it's due to frustration stemming from their inability to communicate - once they are given tools to communicate, much of this behavior stops.

My cousin is Austistic and is low-functioning. He does act out violently sometimes but it's acting out due to not knowing how to communicate his feelings. I've never seen him act out in malice. And it usually happens when his doctor is readjusting his meds. My aunt and his sister have gotten better at realizing when he is getting frustrated. If they sense he is really frustrated they suggest that he go for a run, which he does and it always makes him feel better. Communicating that he's upset doesn't seem to make him feel better. He lacks an ability to have that kind of discussion re: feelings.

Also, my cousin doesn't fear abandonment, he fears change. He has a really hard time with his routine being different. Whereas people with BPD seem to "thrive" in chaos. When our grandfather died, my Austistic cousin's doctor said it was really important for him to have closure, that he would likely need to see my grandfather's dead body and to say goodbye. But that talking about my grandfather dying would likely be to stressful for my cousin. My aunt followed the recommendation and my cousin seemed like he understood and was OK with my grandfather dying. He asked a ton of questions but he didn't seem distraught. I'm sure he was sad, but not overwhelmed. My uBPD father on the other hand does not handle death remotely well. He cannot let go. And he rages shortly after any family member dies.

I'm not a mental health professional so I really don't know anything about how they determine what can can't be co-morbid with BPD, but they just seem like totally different things to me. I find it distressing that doctors seem to lump on so many diagnoses onto one person sometimes. Sometimes I think it's counterproductive. But what do I know?

UKAnnie- what prompted your T to suggest that your mom might also have Aspergers?
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UKannie
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2012, 09:47:48 AM »

Edited to add:  I just saw PTB's response and wanted to add one more thing (as if I didn't say enough already  ).  My Aspie daughter has a conscience, genuinely feels bad when she understands that she has done something wrong, and learns quickly from her mistakes...None of the above with my mother.  She knows what she's doing is wrong (the proof is how carefully she has covered some of her crimes), chooses to do it anyway, and doesn't feel badly about it afterwards.

Hopefully some of this helps.  

All of this helps, so thank you  

My T says she has a lot of Aspergers clients. I am wondering if some of them actually have PDs - maybe she gets pretty good results out of them by choosing to label them Aspergers. I can see hypothetically how that could happen. I also see hypothetically that you are more likely to retain a paying client by suggesting they have some signs of Aspergers than suggesting they are slightly sociopathic. Maybe I am just being cynical.

What I want to point out to my T, is that she only sees people who show up for therapy. They are qualitatively different from my mother.

My mother would not last more than one session with someone who even gently pointed out her behaviours could be hurtful or damaging. She is incapable of reflection, taking responsibility for her own actions and of remorse. I am not saying that determines her diagnosis, just that I bet my T has never had a client like my mother.

My T reckons some people with Aspergers have no remorse. I am not qualified to say whether that is true or not. That does not sit easily with me, although I do accept that there is huge variation within any diagnostic group - as PTB quite rightly points out.

What I don't want to do is paint my T black in all this as she 'gets' schizophrenia (which my dad has) which is very important to me. She also 'gets' the impact on me of having a non-empathic mother. She 'gets' the impact of the violence I have witnessed and received. She 'gets' the impact of my mother dishing out emotional and verbal abuse. She agrees that health and social services should have intervened to help my family. She can see why I have had problems getting into and staying in a relationship. She is the first professional who has called a spade a spade in many respects.

I just wish she would read the DSM IV and re-evaluate the fixation she has with lack of empathy meaning Aspergers. She is a private practitioner and doesn't work for the National Health Service but I think her whole approach is symptomatic of the fact that the UK system makes much better provision for developmental disorders (especially those diagnosed in childhood) than it does for adult psychiatric disorders. That has always frustrated me hugely.

I hope the above makes sense  ?

   Annie
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