After losing interest in the subject for a long time, I finally had a close look at another internet community based on personality disorders, a disciple of which I’ve seen trying to poison strangers online (for a couple of years and ongoing), perhaps out of reflex, with the idea that they are being emotionally abused by their partners or family members. When the response given to anyone succinctly posting a relationship dilemma is by default along those lines, something is awry.
Not having spent more than a few hours looking it up and reading through it, I do know what comes out of there, when one is immersed in this line of thought.
The difference between offering an opinion and proselytising is in nuance, in the ability to evaluate every situation on its own merits. When someone reacts like a person with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail, things are clear.
The forum is differently structured than PF and covers more than romantic relationships or marriages, which PF focused on. It doesn’t overtly demonise people with personality disorders, but claims to offer coping strategies instead (a misleading appearance, as detailed below). At a peek there is no mention of evil, demonic beings set on destroying their targets etc. However, a review of the book with the same name mentions black and white thinking, splitting humans into two categories: “the PDs” (personality disordered) and the “nons” (non-disordered) . And the acronym PD appears often on the site. Hence they don’t even have to pretend they are knowledgeable enough to identify a specific disorder.
To their credit, they declined to create a subsection for teens, seeing the problems that might pose (while PF targeted them directly in a marketing effort).
However, at a closer look, one can see a person is likely to be labelled disordered, or at least be suspected as such, for just any reason. And any reason is no stretch.
There is a subsection about friends, neighbours, acquaintances and coworkers, where I reckon most of the baffling stuff is, from what I’ve seen so far. At least in a close relationship one has a reason to over-analyse.
As an example, a member ended up thinking her roommate might be disordered because the latter asked her to hold her stuff at a bar, “as if she were a coat rack”. Because apparently, disordered people are known to be selfish and since this one momentary gesture of debatable rudeness bothered her, the roommate is likely to have a real issue, regardless of the lack of other indications. A thread was opened about this gesture and no moderator stepped in to even issue an opinion regarding how accurate this might be. Which is proof that anything goes. Perhaps this is a random exaggeration; however; there don’t seem to be any guidelines helping people differentiate between what is likely real and what is likely imaginary.
All this has nothing to do with a presumed expertise in personality disorders, but with people airing their day-to-day grievances and sometimes ending up sticking labels on others.
The specific language is present as well (abbreviations understood only by those who activate in these circles, such as NC, LC, VLC, PD, JADE etc). More interestingly, I found the abbreviation FOO (family of origin) in a few places, previously encountered in Stefan Molyneux’s cult lingo, as in “family of origin”. He is the “patent holder” of the term de-FOO, as in disassociating with one’s family of origin (and often friends who don’t share Molyneux’s political ideology, when it comes to his followers).
Very interestingly, there is this remark on a page listing “what not to do” when confronted with disordered behaviours:
Amateur Diagnosis – An Amateur Diagnosis is when a non-qualified individual confronts someone whom they suspect suffers from a personality-disorder and shares this belief with them, usually in the hope that this revelation will help to improve the relationship or the situation.
Excuse my French, but doesn’t that cover doing so behind the person’s back, based on unprofessional information, and sharing that with strangers? I’ve come across diagnosing people by proxy (the boyfriend’s ex-wife, because he claimed so, lacking any diagnosis per se, or the member actually knowing the person referred to as disordered).
What is ethical about the fact that there is no difference of approach between members who do have a diagnosis for someone and those who simply suspect someone of having a disorder, as if it were all the same?