I confided in the doctor about all this a long time ago - MrRight, he said, there is no medication available for personality disorders.
MrRight, your doctor may be correct about your W having a personality disorder (PD). The behaviors you describe -- i.e., temper tantrums, verbal abuse, "occasionally violent," controlling behavior, black-white thinking, hating to be alone, "exceptionally insecure," always being "The Victim," and rapid flips between loving you and devaluing you -- are classic warning signs for BPD (Borderline PD).
She is however... unstable emotionally - prone to a sudden downward shift in mood.
Of the ten personality disorders, BPD is the only one having "unstable" as a defining symptom. Indeed, most of the 9 BPD symptoms describe behavior that is unstable or arises from an inability to control emotions. This is why a large share of the psychiatric community has been lobbying for two decades to rename BPD as "Emotion Regulation Disorder."
The most common cause of mood changes, however, is not BPD. Rather, the two most common causes are hormone change
and drug abuse
. Yet, given that your W apparently is neither pregnant nor a drug abuser, it seems unlikely they are a source of her instability.
I therefore note that the two remaining common causes of strong mood changes are BPD
(Borderline Personality Disorder) and BP
(Bipolar Disorder). Significantly, the behaviors you describe do not sound like red flags for bipolar. Instead, they sound like the warning signs for BPD.
...it is like bringing up 2 kids.
If she really is a BPDer (i.e., exhibits strong and persistent BPD traits), she likely experienced abuse or abandonment in early childhood -- a trauma that left her emotional development frozen at the level of a four year old. If so, this would explain why she cannot regulate her own emotions and is fully dependent on the primitive ego defenses used by young children: e.g., temper tantrums, denial, projection, black-white thinking, and magical thinking. The result is that, for 16 years, you've had a parent/child relationship with her, not a husband/wife relationship.
Everything must be just so. If it's not - watch out.
You are describing a symptom of obsessive compulsion. If the person is aware of having it, it is called OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) which is an anxiety disorder, not a PD. Yet, if the person lacks self awareness and thus is unaware of her OCD -- as you seem to be describing -- the condition generally is called OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder).
If your W is a BPDer, she has a 24% chance of also suffering from full-blown OCPD. As to OCD, a female BPDer has an 81% chance of having OCD or another anxiety disorder during her lifetime. On top of that, she has an 80% chance of having a mood disorder (e.g., PTSD, bipolar, or depression) during her lifetime. See Table 3 at 2008 Study in JCP
She is... occasionally violent
Intense, inappropriate anger is one of the nine defining traits for BPD. If your W is a BPDer, she carries enormous anger inside from early childhood. You therefore don't have to do a thing to CREATE the anger. Rather, you only have to do or say some minor thing that triggers a release of the anger that is already there. This is why a BPDer can burst into a rage in only ten seconds. Moreover, as I noted above, the key defining characteristic of BPD is the inability to regulate one's own emotions.
For these reasons, physical violence has been found to be strongly associated with BPD. One of the first studies showing that link is a 1993 hospital study of spousal batterers. It found that nearly all of them have a personality disorder and half of them have BPD. See Roger Melton's summary of that study at 50% of Batterers are BPDers
. Similarly, a 2008 study
and a 2012 study
find a strong association between violence and BPD.
I have to tip toe around.
The abused partners of BPDers often find themselves walking on eggshells to avoid triggering the BPDer's anger. This is why the #1 best-selling BPD is titled, Stop Walking on Eggshells
I was not quite aware of all this when I married her of course - though there were some warning signs early on that I should have heeded.
If she is a BPDer, her infatuation held her two fears (abandonment and engulfment) at bay throughout the courtship period. You therefore likely did not see any strong warning signs occurring until that infatuation started evaporating -- typically about 4 to 6 months into the R/S (or a year if you did not get together very often).
After the birth of our child - all those traits - bearable human faults - increased greatly.
Post natal syndrome? I dont know.
You are not describing warning signs for postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. Yet, even if she did suffer from one of those conditions, my understanding is that it likely would have been gone with six months, with a chance of lasting 2 or 3 years. I've never heard of those conditions lasting for 16 years.
Mine also explodes on her family. When her mum visited they had a row and my wife threw a laptop at her - injuring her shin.
If your W regularly explodes at business associates and total strangers (e.g., in road rage), you are describing IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder). It is an anxiety disorder, not a PD. The vast majority of BPDers -- even those exhibiting full-blown BPD -- generally get along fine with casual friends, business associates, clients, and complete strangers.
The reason is that none of those people pose a threat to the BPDer's two great fears: abandonment and engulfment. There is no close relationship that can be abandoned and no intimacy to trigger the suffocating feeling of engulfment. It thus is common for well educated BPDers to be caring and generous to strangers all day long -- and then go home at night to abuse the very people who love him.
This is why many high functioning BPDers excel in very demanding professions -- e.g., becoming successful teachers, social workers, psychologists, surgeons, and actors. And this is why HF BPDers typically have no close long-term friends (unless the friend lives a long distance away).
My BPDer exW, for example, has a caring and outgoing attitude toward other people. Even complete strangers feel like they have known her for a long time after talking with her for only 30 minutes. My exW has a warm and charming personality that puts people at ease. Moreover, she genuinely enjoys interacting with those people.
Yet, when one of her casual friends make the mistake of drawing close to her in a LTR, that friend will eventually trigger one of my exW's two fears. At that point -- which typically took 3 to 5 years with each of the three women who became extremely close to her -- my exW would split the woman black and push her away. I saw her terminate all three of those close LTRs in the 15 years we were married.
Similarly, my exW and her two BPDer sisters would periodically push each other away. They would be thick as thieves for 12 to 18 months and then one of them would say some minor thing that would trigger another sister's fears. They would have a blowup fight and then not speak to each other for 4 to 6 months -- then suddenly would return to being thick as thieves. I mention all this to explain why, if your W is a BPDer, she likely will explode on close family members and loved ones -- but not on casual friends and strangers.
We are together virtually all the time.... she can't leave me alone for 5 minutes.
If she is a BPDer, she likely HATES being alone. The reason is that she never had an opportunity in early childhood to develop a strong sense of who she is. Instead, she is stuck with a fragile, unstable sense of self identity. One result of this is that she has virtually no sense of where SHE leaves off and YOU begin.
That is, she no firm personal boundaries and thus cannot readily distinguish between your feelings and hers. Instead, she becomes enmeshed with your feelings. Indeed, because she lacks a strong sense of who she is, she is reliant on you to provide a sense of direction and a grounding. Yet, when you do exactly that, she will resent you for "controlling" her. BPDers have a strong feeling they are being controlled and dominated.
Where do I go from here?
Given that you are not yet willing to divorce her, I suggest I suggest you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself
-- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is you and your son are dealing with. As to the BPD symptoms you describe, I caution that learning to spot these warning signs will not enable you to diagnose your W's issues. Although it is easy to spot these symptoms, only a professional can determine whether they are so severe and persistent as to constitute full-blown BPD. Yet, like learning warning signs for stroke and heart attack, learning those for BPD may help you avoid a painful situation, e.g., remaining in a toxic marriage or, after leaving, running into the arms of another woman just like her.
I also caution that BPD is not something -- like chickenpox -- that a person either "has" or "doesn't have." Instead, it is a spectrum disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your W exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.
Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits those traits at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot answer that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are easy to spot -- especially after you've been dating for two years -- because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as strong verbal abuse, violence, and temper tantrums.
I therefore suggest that, while you're looking for a good psych, you take a quick look at my list of red flags at 18 BPD Warning Signs
to see if most sound very familiar. If so, I would suggest you read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Maybe's Thread
. If that description rings many bells, I would be glad to join @3Xnocharm
and the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, MrRight.