Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers: Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths
by Richard Skerritt

Why Do They Do What They Do?

When I consult with people trying to deal with abusive relationships, I spend a good portion of the time helping them understand which disorder(s) they're dealing with, what defense mechanisms their disordered partner is using that cause much of their behavior, and the impact of alcohol or drug abuse on top of the disorder. After a while the light went on: "I should write a book!"

This is that book. It lays out three essential phenomenon that everyone needs to understand. First, I give my own essential dynamic for each of borderline, narcissistic, and antisocial (sociopathic) personality disorder. This is the underlying psychological stress that drives each disorder. Unlike the lists of "criteria" that are norally used to define each of these disorders, I reduce each disorder to one key motivating dynamic that I believe can reliably help to identify and understand.

Second, I describe the psychological defense mechanisms that are most often used by these people to try to stabilize their distorted reality and maintain their perception of safety. These distortions of reality, of which the disorderd person is unaware, are a major cause of confustion for us. Third, I describe the significant impact that alcohol and drug use have when added to an underlying personality disorder. This frequent "comorbid" problem can confound and confuse if you don't understand how it interplays with the disorder.

This book is designed specifically for people who are trying to understand and deal with an abusive relationship. It covers all three of the disorders that we see over and over in online support groups for people in abusive situations. It's not focused on a particular disorder and so it doesn't oversell one, as some single-disorder books do. It's a practical collection of real peoples' experience, and it reflects the reality that almost all abusers have a narcissistic dynamic - at least some of the time. And most abusers have some elements of other disorders as well. This is why I call these three personality disorders the abusive disorders, and in actuality most abusers have some elements of each.