Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Personality Disorder Pride?


I’ve met Aspies with and without Personality Disorders... including some with NPD, BPD and Antisocial… but more often those with Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive-Compulsive or Schizoid personality disorders… so if their PDs constituted 50-70% of what they and others termed their AS, and they were proud of their ‘AS’, are THOSE ONES actually inadvertently saying they are celebrating ‘Personality Disorder pride’?

If we have autistic pride, if OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive PERSONALITY DISORDER) is commonly part of Asperger’s, is it valid to have “Personality Disorder pride” (PD Pride)? Would we accept that?…. pride in having Antisocial, Narcissistic, Sadistic personality disorders but to name a few….and how many of us would feel safe moving in THOSE pride circles?

CarolAnn Edscorn
There are several types of pride. Maybe we need to think of an original framework? Autistic hope, Autistic joy? Autistic belonging! Oh yep.

Esther Fillon Baker
Personally, I would not feel safe moving into that arena because the less labels the better. I am not ashamed of my son’s autism, and today and I can say that I truly accept him the way that he is. I mean everyone in society could be labeled with something or another.

Jaymz Dream-boating Dallymore
As one who has unfortunately recently been on the receiving end of an obsessive fantasist lady (4 the first time i hasten to add). I’d have 2 say that i’d approach such pride events with a degree of caution if in fact they existed. But ocd is different 2 me as it is less likely 2 impact on others. I recovered from chronic ocd anyway and now think my obsessions r more productive and in line with boundless enthusiasm but i feel in control of it. Whereas as a teenager it controlled me.

Anthony Julian
obsessions aren’t necessarily a bad thing… I think you’ll find there are also Aspies who are extremely passionate about their interests, career, etc. but don’t necessarily fit OCPD 🙂 Jaymz, OCD and OCPD are completely different.
I really think it depends on what particular personality disorder you’re talking about. Anthony Julian I think likening Asperger’s to OCPD is another “one size fits all” example… I’d say it’s more likely that a certain percentage of Aspies fit OCPD – not all.

Rita Correia
Narcisistic don’t need it. Anti-social don’t need it. Sadistic don’t need it. 😀
Depressed could use it, Co-dependent too. Histrionics would love it.

Libby Board
Strange Anthony I was up all night looking at research articles about the differences between Aspie obsessions and anxiety driven obsessions and how you would distinguish between the two in the Autistic population. I know some examples where a child’s anxiety obsession behaviour (which I believe were caused by the traumatic family situation at the time) were overlooked because of the child’s diagnosis of autism…

Olivia Connolly
I’d say no as people with PD’s have maladaptive ways of exploiting people whereas alot of peeps on the spectrum are aware of social limitations and either embrace being socially awkward, try to overcome it or have very little social awkward…ness if at all. People with PD’s are unaware of hurting others or simply dont care or are doing it to survive. I’m no expert but I think people on the spectrum have a self awareness and awareness of others that Peeps with PD’s don’t have. I think many narcissists are proud of their exploits of others, as are anti socials but borderlines exploit others in a need to get close or push away to protect themselves from being too close.

Caitlin Browning
As Ant said, I’m not sure pride (regarding OCPD) is the right word… I’m most probably OCPD (but not OCD), and to me it’s more negative than positive – I spent more time actively trying to counter the traits and symptoms of OCPD I display rather than embracing them. manipulation and exploitation are very specific traits and limited only to very specific personality disorders, not all personality disorders.

Olivia Connolly
Manipulation is common to NPD, Borderlines and anti social, but not typical of histrionics and a few others!

Anthony Julian
Caitlin, seeing OCPD as a good thing is all a matter of perspective… of course you don’t see it as a good thing, because being OCPD, you’re one of the world’s greatest perfectionists… and nobody is perfect! haha (also, I think all Aspie…s in general are “professional worriers!!”) But perfectionism can be a really good trait to have if used the right way… the obsessive-compulsive personality is an extreme of the conscientious personality – this is why I say that I know you will be successful in whatever you do. 🙂

Arlene Taylor
Donna – I guess I would see the difference as that autistic pride is celebrating a neurological difference and neurological diversity. ASDs are not mental illnesses but PDs apparently are. I would be concerned about people celebrating the… maladaptive behaviours of most PDs (borderline, narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial)… Also I think the origins of Autistic pride are partly based in people standing up and saying ‘just because we’re different doesn’t mean it’s bad and we can’t achieve’… Whereas a lot of people with personality disorders have behaviours that are considered harmful/unhelpful in the community (not just experiencing difficulties or being different or doing things a different way). No one has ever said people with PDs in genenral aren’t going to achieve, but that has been said about autistic people in the past. So I am all for autistic pride. But I would never celebrate say “depressive pride” or “antisocial pride” or “schizophrenic/bipolar pride”. But that’s just my thoughts on it.

Vince Ragetti
I think the ones with PDs often tend to be of the more militant type who expect the world to conform to them, rather than vice-versa. Others with AS and without any other personality disorders just try to get on with their lives the best they can, or they try to raise awareness of AS in a positive way, such as what you seek to do (and you do so admirably, Donna!) Also, if asked to explain ‘the AS’, I find that those with co-existing PDs often confuse the two, and are more likely to use ‘the AS’ as an excuse for their behaviours. I may be long-term unemployed, but it certainly isn’t through a lack of trying. I still find it ironic that I never have trouble securing voluntary work!! Says something, doesn’t it!!

Donna Williams
One of the things that really surprised me was the degree to which those with AS and PDs are more likely to be long term unemployed when their PDs are presumed to be ‘the AS’. Those who ONLY had the AS related information processing differences tended to take AS in their stride and try and put their potential to its best use.

Dawn Marie Comer
I’ve been wrestling with this issue concerning a family member who is (undiagnosed but clearly) AS and Paranoid Personality Disorder. Seth, you frame it perfectly–how to know where AS ends and PD begins. But it has been helpful to try to make that distinction at least–not all of this person’s difficulties are AS. And as this individual is rather militant and expecting the world to conform to him, it helps me to be able to say to myself, “This isn’t simply AS,” even while he tries to justify some of the worst parts of his actions as simply, “Asperger moments.”

Seth Kneller
Not that I am aware of having a personality disorder, but how would I know where my AS ended and my PD began?! To me AS is my life and I don’t know any different. Sometimes I feel as though the world should conform to me, mostly when I am tired and pissed off though. I guess I have to find some way to stop losing jobs through getting like this and then just wanting to drop out of life, which helps for a bit but then I realise I have no job and no money.

Vince Ragetti
Seth, unless you were solely educated in special ed schools, you can’t really say that you don’t know any other way. You would’ve been exposed to NT people, and people that see things differently. The question I pose to you is how much do you let your AS or PD define who you are. There are plenty of influences around, and people with AS have minds like sponges. It is possible to absorb the influences around you and go with the ones that are most beneficial for you and it makes coping with living in the everyday world a heck of a lot easier.

Gina Muollo
That’s a good point, Vince. All three of my kids are in mixed disability special ed schools. My oldest is autistic, the middle one is AS and bipolar, and the youngest is bipolar. The good thing about it is that, even though everyone there has DD, MR and/or mental health issues, no-one sticks out as being WAY different than anyone else, like they would in regular ed. I think this teaches them to be extremely less ignorant and extremely more tolerant of other people’s “problems”. I suppose the bad part of it would be that the “real world” doesn’t work that way. But wouldn’t it be great if it did?

Eleanor C. Ayakura
Celebrating difference doesn’t mean having an excuse for any random thing we can be doing.

Cat Taylor
‎Often I hear Bill Gates and Einstein being mentioned as “one of them” and used as poster boys. there are stigmas attached to most disorders but with autism there are positives. I’ve also heard x-men mentioned and even heard “we’re an evolutionary mutation”. clearly such people would fit better under a narcissist label but the problem with that is most know that someone with narcissism may falsely believe they are superior but if hey say they have ASD some may think they are genuinely superior and have special abilities/gifts. nothing wrong with wanting to be special but not in order to dominate others. perhaps there needs to be more concentration on self esteem and being real and based on the *self* rather than being based on belonging to a certain group.

Eleanor C. Ayakura
I think that Aspies are sometimes misdiagnosed with Schizoid personality disorder but it is not the same.

Chelsea Reinschmidt
I personally don’t like identifying with a label that is negative or perjorative. PDs are often stigmatized and so it seems identifying with that label and being proud of it would be difficult. It seems it may contribute to allowing yourself to be destructive since many of these PDs are destructive. (but not all of them of course). In the DSM you cannot be diagnosed with a PD if you have a PDD diagnosis. To me that seems like a good thing. I don’t believe in comorbid PD in someone with a PDD personally. Obviously people are misdiagnosed with a PDD sometimes but I think it happens less frequently than being misdiagnosed with a PD. Just my 2 cents on the topic.

Though as I stated earlier I don’t really believe all of these PDs are actually PDs. And while they are diagnosed in adulthood only they begin very early in life it seems. So seems suspiciously of a developmental nature to me. There are “mad pride” circles though I think that while having a different brain is ok, identifying with a label and believing that is who you are as a person is a bad thing and probably especially for someone with a PD.

Donna Williams
Hi Chelsea, no, you CAN be dx’d with both, I know so because I’ve worked with people formally dx’d with both. What the DSM means is that PDDs can be CONFUSED with PDs and vice versa. However, most diagnosticians in the last 5 years are not so ignorant as to believe that just because one has a PDD one can’t be blond, depressed, have Tourette’s or a PD. I’ve known just as many Aspie’s with prior dx of PDs as those with co-morbid dx of PDs. When they were dx’s with PDs before their AS, some were told their PD dx was a misdiagnosis, others were told they had both. When they were dx’d with a PD after their dx with AS they were usually told they had both, though I’ve known cases where the diagnostician felt their PD had come to outweigh their AS… that both were present but the PD was the greater issue/disability.

Chelsea Reinschmidt
In the US, they give you personality disorder tests to rule out PD before diagnosing AS. Just because diagnosticians diagnose both does not mean that it is valid. In the DSM you technically cannot be diagnosed with both for a reason. There are obviously doctors who will but it is not a valid construct because most with AS will fit criteria for both. And obviously we need to understand what is causing the symptoms. I understand you believe it is valid. I disagree. I guess we will just agree to disagree which is ok.

Donna Williams
I guess then you’d like to tell the forensic psychiatrists dx’ing those with both that they are doing something professionally impossible. So given what you’re saying, how do you reconcile that many Aspies fit OCPD, AvPD, Schizoid PD? Would you just say ‘oh that’s because its part of AS’? In this DSMIV for AS it does not state that AS can’t co-occur with PDs… it does say that Schizophrenia and other PDDs (Pervasive Developmental Disorders) have to be ruled out.

Chelsea Reinschmidt
interesting….I will have to get mine out and look that up again. I could have sworn that there could not be comorbid dx….maybe it is because I have HFA and not AS so for Autistic Disorder (which is what I have) you can’t have a comorbid PD. Sorry my mistake!

Donna Williams
just checked the DSMIV for autism too… no mention that autism can’t co-occur with Personality Disorders… again, just that if one fits another PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) ie Rett’s or Disintegrative Disorder – then one wouldn’t be dx’d with autism.

Gina Muollo
In the US, if you are seeing a psychiatrist/counselor, you have to be officially diagnosed with a comorbid condition, even if it IS something directly associated with PDD such as anxiety disorder. The reason for this is purely bureaucratic because, even tho PDD is in the DSM4, it is not considered a billable mental health disorder. p.s. I’m not saying a true comorbid can’t exist, just that it doesn’t technically have to… I’m not saying a true comorbid can’t exist, just that it doesn’t technically have to…

Chelsea Reinschmidt
ah ok so for Schizoid PD it specifically states it cannot co occur with a PDD. Also says that for schizotypal

Donna Williams
AS would certainly have to be DISTINGUISHED from Schizoid and Schizotypal but that’s not the same as the two being unable to co-occur… for example, all that Schizoid is is a Solitary personality trait under extreme chronic stress, pushed …to disorder proportions, all that Schizotypal is is the Idiosyncratic personality trait under extreme chronic stress pushed to disorder proportions… and there is nothing that says those with any personality trait are excluded from having developmental disabilities. It’s like saying that people who have solitary personalities or idiosyncratic personalities couldn’t have AS. So do please send me the link you’re referring to. Interesting psychiatric article here… cites that Schizoid and Schizotypal PDs commonly co occur in AS:

Schizoid personality in childhood (DSM-IV)
Schizoid personality in childhood is defined by solitariness, lack of empathy, emotional detachment, increased sensitivity, at times paranoid ideation, and single-minded pursuit of special interests…. All these features are seen in Asperger syndrome, and comorbid issues (depression or behaviour problems in particular) are likewise similar for both conditions. On the basis of evidence presented in Wolff’s (1998) discussion of schizoid personality in childhood, we have concluded that there is significant overlap between schizoid personality in childhood and Asperger syndrome.

Schizotypal personality disorder (DSM–IV)
The DSM–IV diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder depends on odd beliefs or magical thinking, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations, odd thinking and speech, odd, eccentric or peculiar behaviour… and appearance, lack of close friends and social anxiety. All of these criteria can also occur in Asperger syndrome, and Wolff (1998) regards “Asperger syndrome and schizoid/schizotypal disorders as interchangeable terms that identify roughly the same group of children”. The conditions do differ in at least three important respects. First, there appears to be an increased rate of develop-ment of schizophrenia in schizotypal personality disorder. Second, schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia co-occur in families and appear genetically related. Third, prospective research of children at high risk of schizophrenia (Erlenmeyer-Kimling et al, 2000) suggests that some individuals later diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder developed without impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication.

Chelsea Reinschmidt
What you are saying about AS and traits makes sense to me though. I was always under the impression that you could not attribute traits to both dx. Maybe I was misinformed.

Carmel Anne Jones
My parents suspected I had classic autism as a baby because I was so fixated on certain things and seemed quite locked up within myself. Pictures of me at the time show that I never really looked at the camera. But once I spoke at an early age, they put any issues down to my being “highly strung” or “shy” or “a bit slow”.

Nora Watts
ASD is a mixed bag but some of the bits are excellent. I can’t see personality disorders in the same light. There doesn’t seem to be an up side. How to make the ASD a mostly positive thing.. that is my thinking now. I find that parents can adjust to a ASD dx for a child but parents seldom adjust to a “your kid is f..ed up” dx. We can use all sorts of medical dxes but the meaning is clear.

Isabelle Monod
to come back to the original question, PRIDE : this is a word i never use because of it’s negative feeling ! defined as :an exaggerated positive evaluation of oneself, often based on a devaluation of others. It resuls in a king of attacheme…nt to oneself and aversion to others……….now, seen this way, self esteem is very different, & is necessary for everyone to progress via the understanding of one own self !like Chelsea says i’m who i’m ! this is how balanced it can be !

Jennifer St. Jude
I personally can’t imagine feeling proud of anything that causes me such grief. However letting go of the shame around it would be nice. While struggling with AS I also have issues around severe trauma. Letting go of shame is my goal… for it all. Hmmmm… Maybe I’m proud to be a survivor of it all.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.