Family with personality disorders


Family with personality disorders


your avatar   Loosh, 52-year-old woman

I have twin sisters younger than myself by nine years, a brother that is two years older than me and a mother aged 77. It would seem unfair to label them all with a personality disorder, but they are so very self-involved and undermine me very much. I am constantly put on the naughty step even though I have learnt to tip-toe around them all the time; I don't seem able to say anything that doesn't offend.

I always seemed to have a more stable life than them, less upheavals and more resources, though they do dress and have better cars etc. than myself, so I'm not sure if there's "sibling rivalry" at play. They appear to me to be completely false to other people - I'm very straight talking and don't do the social butterfly thing, though I have a wide variety of friends. My relationships are deep and meaningful. They all have sexual misconduct in their pasts. All have had affairs with married people. One twin is in one now, but she's also with someone 18 years her junior. My mother herself embarrassed me so much when she broke up a 50 year marriage 8 years ago.

Because of this behavior - the way I'm reprimanded for small transgressions, the fact that I am not spoken to for years on end - I've stopped taking the blame on myself and started looking at the similarities in their behaviors. My conclusion is that they have Histrionic Personality Disorder. How do I go about pointing this out to them and getting them help? It seems an insurmountable task, knowing that a mere suggestion from me will result in all out war.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

My dear, you are 52 years old. You are describing a very long-standing issue that I have no doubt poisoned your life for many years.

Labeling them with a diagnosis isn't going to change anything. It is actually not possible to properly assign such labels without contact between a person and a skilled therapist, who will use standard assessment techniques. And if you confirmed that the label was appropriate, would that reduce the conflict? Also, I am sure the reality they see is different from yours. From their point of view, it's probably all your fault.

I can offer you a choice between two courses of action:

1. I have encountered people who have divorced their families. They either simply cease contact, or let every relevant person know that, without blame, as a matter of incompatibility, you no longer consider them to be your relatives. I assume you do have people you get on with. Focus on them, and build networks of friendship and even love with them.

2. You may decide that, despite all the pain, these people mean something to you. In that case, the best trick is to stop judging them. They are not going to change at this stage in their lives. So, smile within your heart. Refuse to take on their judgments and actions, as you have decided to do. Ensure that everything you do and say is caring and positive, regardless of their words and behavior.

Either of these courses of action promises to put peace into your life.

With best wishes,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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