The Narcissism of ADD/ADHD

Sometimes I literally feel like I am living with a crazy person who has no concept of interpersonal ethics or consideration.

Here is an example that happened today:

I always log out of my Ebay account because both me and my boyfriend of two years actively use the site.  Unfortunately yesterday I was unable to log out of my account because our internet crapped out.  Apparently I was still logged in because when he went to use the computer he ended up using "buy it now" while still logged into my account.  I honestly don't think he realized that "buy it now" does not work like a "shopping cart" and actually obligates you to continue the purchase by paying but what he did was log out of my account without paying and log into his account, "buy it now" on another identical item from the same vendor and pay.  This left an unpaid item in my account.

Now, knowing from personal experience that some vendors do not take kindly to unpaid items and will lodge a complaint with Ebay that can suspend usage of your account and considering that I was actively selling a few things I immediately emailed the vendor to cancel the order and to make it clear what happened, gave him my boyfriend's user name so that he'd see that a purchase was really made by him from another account and resulted in the following conversation:

ME:  You have to be careful that you're not logged into someone else's account when you make a purchase if you're not going to pay for it. (I then explained how "buy it now" is not a "shopping cart".

Him:  Well YOU should make sure that you log out after you used it.

Me:  I understand that, but the internet stopped working earlier, remember, and I was unable to log out.  It's just good practice to check before making any purchases because if left unpaid the seller can complain and mess up your account.  Anyway, I wrote the seller an email, gave him your user name for proof and he said no worries, cancelled the order, and wished me happy holidays.  Just be careful for the future.

Him:  Well, you should be careful to remember to log out.  Anyway, I think Ebay cares more about what you do when you're selling.

Me:  Well, no actually because I once reneged on a purchase and my account was suspended.

Him:  (sarcastically) Well THANKS for giving them MY username, then...god! (after I already said the seller was totally fine with it and even wished me happy holidays)

Me:  I had to!  Plus, you made the mistake in the first place!

This is the typical narcissistic thinking my boyfriend displays.  He's literally thinking, "how dare you potentially cause a negative thing to happen to me because of a mistake I made even though it was really the only way to go about solving the problem I made."  He apologized later because he could see that I was a little angry at his reaction but I still don't think he actually GETS what was ethically wrong with his thinking.  And I know it's not something he did on purpose, it was a simple mistake, but I think at some point most non-ADHD adults learn to accept the negative consequences of and take responsibility for their unintentional mistakes.  It's so frustrating. 

feel you

clf2012,

Just want to let you know that I feel you. I am in a different situation, estranged from my ADHD husband I am separating from. He is on anther planet in terms of not being able to just accept responsibility or discuss a mistake or bad judgment on his own part. We have had thousands of conversations like the one you wrote above. Each time, I ended up feeling like he was using all of his considerable intellect and personality to divert me from the original idea--and I wasn't even mad most of the time, just pointing out that he put the mail somewhere that I couldn't find it until 2 weeks later. But it would become a discussion of how I had set up the house wrong and how he didn't have anywhere to put the mail because I had things on the table, or how hard he had worked washing the dishes the day before and how there were no bills in the mail anyway. Literally, just complete avoidance, blame-shifting, denial, whatever you want to call it. It got bad when he threw a phone at me, smacked me right in the leg with it from 15 feet away, and continues to this day to insist that it was an "accident." I went for YEARS thinking that maybe I was crazy and actually started to believe a lot of his theories because the alternative was tough to address. A friend of his describes it as "starting to talk and then five minutes later you don't even remember what you were talking about because he twists everything around so much."

I don't know what is going on there. My impression from Melissa's book and other sources is that this defensiveness arises from a lifetime of ADHD folks being blamed and criticized for things that are legitimately tough for them (like not keeping track of homework at school or similar). But with mine, I think it is something deeper than just general denial or defensiveness and as I started reading about narcissistic personality, it was like a light bulb went on. Mine is literally obsessed with not being blamed or held responsible for just about anything. I would love to hear from others out there--I am currently trying to negotiate a separation agreement with him, and am losing my mind. The issue of visitation becomes a discussion of me denting a car 8 years ago or me getting my hair cut too frequently and I can never get him to just say what he wants. Sigh. 

clf2012, sorry for digressing and I hope that you can work through this. May I suggest some counseling for you before it gets so bad? At least someone familiar with ADHD who is a psychiatrist or doctor or counselor may be able to advise you on how to work on it. Does anyone else out there have any thoughts? Best of luck to you. 

Oh yes...

This is the heart of why my spouse and I are now separating. Mind you, HE asked for the separation because he feels the relationship is broken beyond repair and that it is entirely my fault. He refuses to see a counselor because the last time we did (over a decade ago), the counselor told him that some of our problems were caused by his behavior and wanted to work on both of our behavior toward each other (I am NOT perfect by ANY means!). He was flabbergasted that anyone could think that our problems were anything other than my fault, 100%. He cannot STAND the idea that he is responsible for anything going wrong, even when it is clear that no one else had anything to do with it. ("You should have REMINDED me to get my dry cleaning. Now I have nothing to wear tonight." "Actually, I did remind you. There is the note. I also sent you a text this morning." "Well, you should have reminded me right after I left work! You know I won't remember a text from the morning.") 

When I first met him a couple of decades ago, our very first conversation was about how his parents, his teachers, his brother and sister and a former best friend of his made his life difficult and had ruined his life so far. He went on and on about how he was a victim. Having had some bad experiences in my past, and being extremely young and stupid, I romanticized this discussion and felt a kinship with him. I didn't realize until we had been married for some time that, although there was definitely some bad behavior on the part of some of those people, that most of his problems were self-made. Further, by blaming others for his mistakes, he didn't have to do anything whatsoever to fix the problems and that, in fact, he was powerless to do so since the world was against him. He had absolutely no interest in moving beyond his pain and making something better of his life. And here I was, trying desperately to do just that for myself!

For the first few years, it was "us against the world". But now, years later, of course, I am the bad guy. He is still a victim and I am the female version of the evil mustachioed villain tying him to the railroad tracks every chance I get. His failures in school, his failures in his jobs, these are all my fault. I should have helped him more (despite the fact that I was working fulltime to pay all or the vast majority of our bills AND raising the children practically by myself). I should have given him a pass at all household chores and parenting duties, and if I had, he'd have succeeded. (When I repeated this to a good friend of mine, she laughed and we sat talking about whether we recalled his ever doing household chores or parenting duties other than keeping the children alive for certain periods of time.) 

In his desperation to prove I am wrong in every single solitary conversation about anything ever, he talks himself through logical circles and knots. I used to point out the inconsistencies, which would give him the excuse to blow up and say I was "picking on him" or "not listening". Now I just silently wait for him to contradict himself so many times that even he notices it and stops talking. (He then gets furious with me and tells me I am "impossible to communicate with". Again, no way to win.) 

You are not alone in this situation. And of course, people with ADHD aren't the only ones who do this and certainly not all of them do it! I would venture to say that at one point or another, we have ALL acted this way out of pain or fear of feeling guilty or bad about our decisions and actions. But we ALL have to learn to face our failures, admit to them, learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on. When one person in a relationship will not do this, it is hell on earth.

I wonder sometimes whether he is even capable of it. I have to believe that he is, since I believe everyone is capable of change and growth. But sometimes I wonder and doubt.

There are so many things I

There are so many things I agree with and can relate to in this post!  But I just want to point out one, that made me laugh (although it's actually very sad):  Just yesterday, I wrote a message to my husband in which I used his analogy of himself as a frightened, helpless bunny rabbit that rolls up at the first sign of danger, and I said that I must be the hunter with the gun, determined to find him and do away with him.  (Kidding, of course, but he seems to think of me that way.)  

Rather, Narcissism with ADHD

ADHD doesn't necessarily include narcissism -- but most do have other co-existing conditions as well to varying degrees.

"Words are powerful.  Think of all the words, or phrases that were hurled your way (and still may be being hurled) by the disordered individual.  Do any of these words or phrases sound hauntingly familiar – ‘I was just retaliating to how YOU behave,’ ‘What’s wrong with YOU,’  ‘YOU will never be able to do that,’ ‘Can’t YOU do anything right,’ ‘YOU take everything so personally,’ ‘I’m not having this conversation with YOU,’ ‘YOU don’t know when to shut your mouth,’ ‘Can’t YOU let anything go,’ ‘It’s how YOU are perceiving things,’ – and on, and on.  Notice how the key word in all of these phrases is ‘YOU.’  YOU, in these statements assigns BLAME – ‘YOU’ are to BLAME.  ‘YOU’ is numbing.  How much damage do you think the word ‘you’ has caused in your life?  After reading this, probably more than you think.

This is the nature of pathologically disordered individuals. Their ability to twist, con, and manipulate with words is second to none.  Many possess the gift of gab, and present themselves as excellent communicators. Their best means of communication seems to be in how they use the spoken word against others, however, never being accountable for what proceeds from their mouth.  They have no desire or means to communicate with purpose or to have a fair fight.  Negotiations do not exists, and you can throw compromise out the window. Wrangling with words with a pathological individual, especially one that is proficient with psychological head games is useless.  They have a one-track mind, and that track is for winning – winning at everything and anything no matter what the cost.  Arguing is a waste of time and energy that should be reserved for leaving the situation and healing."

from "The Power of Words"  http://saferelationshipsmagazine.com/the-power-of-words

Oh my gosh, this is my life...

It is interesting that psychology is so DEAD ON about the things that these individuals do.   When I read this it was like someone walked over my grave

 This is the nature of pathologically disordered individuals. Their ability to twist, con, and manipulate with words is second to none.  Many possess the gift of gab, and present themselves as    excellent communicators. Their best means of communication seems to be in how they use the spoken word against others, however, never being accountable for what proceeds from their mouth.  They have no desire or means to communicate with purpose or to have a fair fight.  Negotiations do not exists, and you can throw compromise out the window. Wrangling with words with a pathological individual, especially one that is proficient with psychological head games is useless.  They have a one-track mind, and that track is for winning – winning at everything and anything no matter what the cost.  Arguing is a waste of time and energy that should be reserved for leaving the situation and healing."

This is why I have resorted to being very quiet at home.  I talk very little and fight to find others outside of my home to talk to.  Even the most trivial conversation becomes a battle of sarcasm and one -ups-manship that is very exhausting. My husband does not know my opinion on most things and is often surprised when we talk in front of other people. When others compliment me on how articulate and intelligent I am, he is always utterly surprise, and expresses it in a questionable fashion. I am a corporate executive in HR with an emphasis in Training and Development. How could I have this type of job and not be able to speak in front of others? Who I am, how I really feel about things, my likes and dislikes are a totally mystery to him.  Mostly because he is not interested in anything about me, unless it can end up being about him.  From the ring that he bought me for our engagement to the way that he asked me to be his wife.  People told him that I would not like what he planed and he did it anyway.  Every time I look down at my hand I have to look at a ring that I distinctly told the Jeweler that I did not want. Such is life

deleted

sorry, i goofed

When I first met him a couple

When I first met him a couple of decades ago, our very first conversation was about how his parents, his teachers, his brother and sister and a former best friend of his made his life difficult and had ruined his life so far. He went on and on about how he was a victim. Having had some bad experiences in my past, and being extremely young and stupid, I romanticized this discussion and felt a kinship with him. I didn't realize until we had been married for some time that, although there was definitely some bad behavior on the part of some of those people, that most of his problems were self-made. Further, by blaming others for his mistakes, he didn't have to do anything whatsoever to fix the problems and that, in fact, he was powerless to do so since the world was against him. He had absolutely no interest in moving beyond his pain and making something better of his life. And here I was, trying desperately to do just that for myself!

I got this too. Our conversations were about how his past girlfriends were either a.) crazy or b.) heartless beyotches. Same thing for any friend he was currently on the "outs" with. Interestingly enough, he painted this wonderful rosy picture of his family (with the exception of his grandparents).

Now six-ish years down the road, the heartless girlfriend probably got tired of dealing with his moodiness and unreliability, and turns out that his family life was not always the best. Of course I struggle with his parents not recognizing that he needed help, not only for the ADHD, but also for the extreme anger and acting out. When a teenager steals your car and abandons it along the roadway or starts physically harming himself, all to get his parents to stop fighting, there's an issue that needs to be addressed. Any yet, now that he's nearly 32 and is struggling to make something of his life, his family just wants to judge and talk about what a failure he is.

He can be incredibly self-centered, but fortunately, he does have moments of caring and empathy, so I keep plugging along.

Lynnie 70--that was an interesting excerpt...and so like my hubby. He enjoys playing head games with bill collectors. Though sadly for me, it's like arguing with a brick wall because of his one-track mind. He's not as bad as he used to be...he seems to be breaking down to some point. He used to make me think I was crazy, now he's just annoying hardheaded.

I'm learning to walk away, freak out on my own, and wait for the call. The call being an apology. That's when I discuss what made me so angry in the first place. It seems to be working though last night I told him I needed space (to avoid the argument that was brewing) and he said I had plenty of space. I still have the presence of mind to grab my keys and go on my way, and an hour later, he was on the phone apologizing for being such a grouch.

ditto again

Wow, I wish I had known all of you on this forum while this was starting for me way back! I think our spouses must be twins. I am just remembering the diatribes against old girlfriends and others who had "wronged" my spouse in the past. Including a girlfriend who told their entire social circle about him mistreating her--and the way, at the time, I couldn't believe she would do something like that. And now I see that she probably did, and he probably did mistreat her, because he has had these serious anger management issues since I have known him. He even said to me, verbatim, that "I never do anything wrong unless you provoke me in the first place. It is all your fault: 100%." So I feel ok about separating, because I have never met anyone in my life who is not at least partially at fault for things going badly and I have always been willing to take my share of the blame. He has steadfastly refused to go to counseling with me for over five years, even when I told him that I would leave--and now he is yelling at me for leaving him! 

Dazed, I realize that with mine, too, there were some serious family issues going on with him growing up that probably exacerbated much of this. He had a very angry, hyper-critical, borderline abusive father and a very anxious, hyper-critical mother who expected him to do as he was told and never, ever "talk back." The more I see him in the last year, the more I think he has had or has developed NPD along with his ADHD. 

Anyone out there go through a separation or divorce with a seriously disordered person--someone with narcissistic personality disorder or bi-polar disorder along with the ADHD? Did you just go straight through lawyers? I am trying not to have to go into debt to extract myself but will if I have to just to get out. It is aging me beyond my years to continue to have these circular conversations that don't relate to the matter at hand. I just want some peace, and to take care of my children. Sigh. 

Pbartender's picture

Interesting...

Now, I do have (relatively mild, based on some of the stories I've read here) ADHD.  I'm not certain if my wife has ADHD (though, I'm beginning to see she might have some of the symptoms), but wow...  So much in this thread sounds so much like her.

When we were still in college, but before we started dating, I was her "just-friend-best-guy-friend"...  the "you're like a brother" guy.  She'd had a string of boyfriends who were all "jerks", and I got to hear all about how terrible all of them were.  I remember wondering the whole time, "If she hates them so much, why does she keep dating jerks?  Why doesn't she find a nice guy like me?"  Now, of course, she tells all her friends about how much of a jerk I am.

She admits that she has a short fuse and an explosive temper, but she's never apologized for it or tried to change it.  At best, she bottles it up and avoids whatever is making her upset until it goes away.  She has said, that it's the way she is and people can just accept it or not.

She had a rough childhood, growing up poor without a father (he left before she was even born, and last year he contacted her for the first time in her life via Facebook message) and a mother who dated drug-abusing boyfriends and practically neglected her and her sister.  She always called herself "the white sheep of the family", and considered herself better and destined for better things than her "red neck" relatives.  Problems other people tend to get compared to how bad her childhood was (her response to me still grieving over my father's death after two years was "get over it, at least you had a father").

She will not admit she's wrong about anything.  She goes out of her way to turn meaningless things into an argument (the other night she almost dragged me into a fight over whether or not actor Billy Connolly was tall or short...  I let it go), simply because she insists on being right.  If she's demonstrably proven to be wrong (IMDB says he's 6 foot tall, had I looked it up then -- definitely not short), she flips out and says I don't listen.  She's always shifting blame toward me (she tried to explain to me how it was my fault that she made out with one coworker, and was caught sexting -- after hding it and lying about it -- with a different coworker last winter).

She threatened divorce and moved out into the spare bedroom six months ago.  Since then, nothing more has happened one way or the other.  It's all the same, except we sleep in separate bedrooms.

The other night, I managed to catch some time alone with her to talk...   I said that I was willing and able to work things out together if she changed her mind about counseling, but that I was was equally willing and able to move ahead with a divorce.  I just needed to know what she wanted.  She told me, "I can go to counseling with you, but it won't make a a difference." And when I asked her if she was certain about divorce, she said, "I don't see any other way to make things better."

She won't try any of my solutions or suggestions, but doesn't offer any solutions of her own, and then complains that there's no way to fix the problem.  She won't definitively commit to ending the relationship, but she also won't work to improve it.

So, I can't be certain that she's "seriously disordered" -- I'm no psychologist -- but she's certainly been acting like it.  I'm starting the process of a (hopefully amicable) no-fault divorce.  I'm not sure what to make of it.  Even though she threatened it months ago, it feels like she's still completely unprepared for a divorce.  I've starting splitting my finances from hers, started saving up a little money and paying down a few debts, checked up on my credit report, did an analysis of what my post-divorce budget might look like, did some research on how divorce laws in my state work, checked out the forms and paperwork, double-checked on the tax repercussions for next year, had a consultation with an attorney to get some professional advice, and talked it over with my therapist/counselor.  As far as I can tell, she's half-heartedly looked for an apartment (but hasn't found one), bought a new mattress for the spare bedroom, got advice from some of her divorced friends, and bought a lot of presents for herself and the kids.  If I try to talk to her about actually making some decisions over a divorce agreement, melodrama ensues.  If I don't pester her about it, she simply doesn't bring it up and goes about her life as if nothing's wrong.

I know I've played my part in all this, and I'll accept my fair share of responsibility and blame, but this...  "But we ALL have to learn to face our failures, admit to them, learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on. When one person in a relationship will not do this, it is hell on earth."  ...says it all.

 

Pb.

I know I've played my part in

I know I've played my part in all this, and I'll accept my fair share of responsibility and blame, but this...  "But we ALL have to learn to face our failures, admit to them, learn from them, forgive ourselves and move on. When one person in a relationship will not do this, it is hell on earth."  ...says it all.

So true. As the non, I've finally gotten tired of wasting our counseling time rehashing the past. It's time to move on and yet whenever I make my mind up to do so, it seems he does something that reminds me of the past. There's always this fear in the back of my head that all the improvements he's made are going to go pot. I'm working on setting myself against such things...just because he makes one mistake that may be reminiscent of bad behavior doesn't mean he's going to revert back to his old ways. He tries in his own way after all. I just wish there was some way to make him focus on the right things at the right time. I've been struggling the past week because he's been sick with pneumonia. Not sick enough to forgo playing pool but sick enough not to care about finishing up the one class he has left for the semester (he's probably going to fail it...which of course has many repercussions) or following up on job opportunities. When I ask him to do these things, I get the, "You don't care that I'm sick..." or my recent favorite, "I'm going to stop breathing in my sleep, you're going to come home and find me dead. It will better for everyone that way." I've learned to take this for a grain of salt, but still... I wonder if it's the frustration talking or if he truly feels that way deep down. I think it's both...our counselor recently told me that he was pretty much a hurt, scared little boy who just wants approval. I want to give him that, but it's so hard when he gets off on a tangent and starts achieving the things that really don't matter when there are things to be done that do.

PB--

The best you can do is to prepare to move forward. I have a feeling that your wife is bluffing (even though she doesn't know it). When it comes down to it, she can talk a good game but won't be able to follow through. Ultimately, it will most likely be in your court to formally ask her to leave once the divorce goes through. I'm sorry that things didn't turn out better for you; I know you had hoped to reconcile with her.