31 May 2010

Relationship with a dependent personality disorder

Someone with a dependent personality disorder sometimes stay in relationships with people that abuse them physically or psychologically. They depend on family to know what to do, what job to have, where to go. And their depressiveness, anxiety and sometimes even eating disorders make it difficult for a partner to deal with. When a separation does occur they feel devastated and try to fill the void with another relation.

Dependent personality disorder

People with a dependent personality disorder have an excessive need to be taken care of, and for that they are very obedient trying to meet other people expectations - even if it means to do unpleasant tasks. They have difficulty making the smallest decision by themselves, and have a huge fear of separation from parents, spouses or even close friends. They don’t trust their own judgment, and because of that they are in need of constant help. They also have extreme feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, sadness and a really low self image.

21 May 2010


Which one of us have never thought of being someone else? Living another life, in another country, in another epoch?
To most of us, this is just fantasy. Psychologists, psychotherapists and psychonalysts are somehow made to live other people's lives, if not only out of empathy, that capacity to iamgine what the other person is feeling or thinking.
There is another way of living other lives: reading.
Through books and descriptions we can live what our short lives would never allow.
Do read to your children, a few pages every evening. In time, they´ll want to know more and they'll acquire the habit of reading.
And read with them lots of fairy tales. Don't give in to the nasty modern way of thinking we must protect our chidren from frightful situations the books provide.  They have to live those emotions mediated by reading.
There is a great book that explains wonderfully the importance of fairy tales in children's education: The Psychoanalysis of Fairy Tales, by Bruno Bettelheim.

18 May 2010

Relationship with a histrionic personality disorder

A histrionic wants attention, and has goals, and to achieve he/she can be manipulative to sexual seduction, also by exaggerating illnesses or even by making suicide attempts. On the other hand they can also be envolved in relationships with partners who may be exciting, who offer a “good curriculum” but who do not treat them well. Concerning friendships, they believe being best friends of people who often see them as just acquaintances.


This quid of disorder is known by the high levels of emotion that makes them have the necessity of being the center of attention. They shift moods very quickly and exaggerate a lot on their reactions, they use frequently grandiose language to describe everything and are very theatrical in their gestures. Another difficult characteristic is that they usually change appearance, but also opinions and behavior accordingly to the ones they want to be with at a moment in time – having sometimes an unsecure idea of who they really are as a person… They live on approval and compliments, and are manipulative.

16 May 2010


For those who can read Portuguese I strongly recommend the interview Alexandre Castro Caldas, the neuroscientist,  gave to one of our main newspapers. It can be read at:


Relationship with a paranoid personality disorder

When you are in a relationship with a paranoid, for instance a wife can be really withdrawn because she doesn’t trust anyone to speak to; a husband can be persistently questioning his wife about other men without having real reason for that. But even though inaccurate, the suspicions are not out of reality, meaning, there has to be a link, even the smallest of all links connecting the stories to reality.


Well, the term “paranoid” is widely used in common language, it refers to those who are deeply suspicious of others, and think that everybody wants to harm them, that’s why they have difficulty having close relationships. And rely totally on their own capacities (which are not always enough). They tend to find hidden meanings in everything. Therefore they become cold and distant. Most people with a paranoid disorder are very critical of others flaws, but unable to see their own, and very sensitive to criticism – which at work for example can be a nightmare. One important aspect is that they usually blame others for the problems in their lifes…

10 May 2010

Relationship with a borderline personality disorder

In a relationship they are very difficult to deal with because of the instability – they go from an apparent true love to true hate in a glance. And from victim to abuser. Most of the times the self-destruction makes the partner really guilty to leave, or the parent too scared to solve the situation. There is also a big fear of being abandoned, being in very intense but not necessarily good relationships, getting mad if frustrated in any way, but remaining really dependent of the partner, using all kinds of ways to prevent him/her to leave, even by hurting themselves which makes it very difficult.


One of the main characteristics of this disorder is the instability, in such a way that you have instability in the self-image, one day they think of themselves as great others as zero; they have instability in relationships, shift of moods, and they also tend to be impulsive. People with this disorder seem to have their emotions always in conflict with the world around, and turn out to be sometimes aggressive towards others and also to themselves. And one of the main characteristics is a deep feeling of emptiness. Many times they can engage in self destructive activities, as unprotected sex, drug and alcohol abuse and driving unsafely. One other aspect is their probability of hurting, cutting themselves, an aggressive way that is explained as a way to deal with that emptiness, and their identity issues.

9 May 2010


Most narcissistic see themselves as being great and for that want to be admired and to be the center of attention at all times. They have no ability to empathize with others, once this requires the ability to focus on the other instead of focusing on themselves. They tend to be arrogant with feelings of superiority, but can also be very charming at a first impression - though their relationships are usually short term because they cannot maintain them. They usually have this double standard with envy: many times they envy those around, and use them, but always believing that it is the other way around – others envy them because they are so great. When it comes to criticism or frustration they lack ability to deal with it and react with rage, humiliation, indifference or even pessimism.
For a wife/husband that is trying to share a life with such a person it can become unbearable, as everything is left for the other part to do - as for example house chores – because small and insignificant things are not for them to waste time, they are to superior for it! And one by one all is left for others to do, and without any comprehension of the unfairness and damage that it is causing to the partner. Many wife/husband portrayed their narcissistic partners as wanting a “mother/father” and a maid.
The search for the day and moment when the other will finally realize their value and that they are having too much on their laps can be too long and painful and probably that day never comes. And then we ask: what am I doing with such a person? But it is not easy. Sometimes in adolescents you also feel those characteristics, but most of the times it does not mean they have this personality disorder, it’s just a phase…

Personality disorder

In a simplified way we call “personality” to the long-term pattern of predictable and consistent reactions. If we are “healthy” that pattern has a natural flexibility to adjust those reactions while learning with experiences, understanding that sometimes we shouldn’t react this or that way in specific contexts. But when this flexibility does not exist we can be facing a personality disorder. And there are a few of them. They usually are behaviors that are not socially expected in a certain context, and that repeat themselves over the years causing suffering for the one who has it and often to those around. Many times the person who has the personality disorder doesn’t realize and doesn’t recognize their rigid thinking and behavior, being very difficult to treat.
We all can recognize in ourselves some of the characteristics of those disorders, but it is only a disorder when very rigidly, and when it becomes distressful and maladaptatives. There are a few of them… paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive… And there are also a few controversies about calling them disorders, about the distinction between them, once some share traits. But for us here what matters is to think a little bit about the behaviors and characteristics, other than to consider a “diagnosis”.

3 May 2010


Since Ana brought up the subject, I'l repost a post of mine from June 2009 about living abroad and the impact on creativity. The discussion is open.



A friend brought my attention for this amazing Ted talk about design and collaboration

1 May 2010

New country, old problems

When economy starts having serious problems people start moving around, trying to find a better life in different countries. They search for new opportunities, better jobs and better financial situation. However sometimes they find more of the same, and with the plus of having no family and friends’ support. Other times they really find what they were looking for. Either way it’s not easy to be in a country that we don’t know, where the way you express yourself can be perceived as something other than usual – as too aggressive, or too anti-social. Being in a different country implies that you get to know and understand the culture and the “how-to-do”, so you won’t put yourself in an awkward position… If you ever talked with a foreigner that came to your country you probably heard a lot of funny (hopefully!) stories. A Portuguese friend of mine discovered in between some laughs that “rubber” in USA does not mean “eraser” as in Portugal!... A Brazilian friend arrived in Portugal and found out that we have a pastry called “queque” but “queca”, a similar word, has a very different meaning… Well, those can be funny moments, but others can be quite embarrassing.

The more different from your culture is the new country you are in, the more difficult it can be. And time goes by, and maybe you have children in a different country, and soon you’ll find out those aspects of that new culture in them. And what about if you stay for 20 or 30 years in another country, and feel your heart divided… or if you find out you were 20 or 30 years in a country you dislike…?

There is so much we can say and write about this… I believe we could have here many different stories from those who read us. There are lot of people dealing with those same questions every day and who can understand what we are trying to say, and there are also professional ones that can support you during that transition and adaptation.



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