Sister might have HPD?

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dfwlgw

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Sister might have HPD?
« on: December 03, 2019, 10:44:36 PM »
Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum, and I was wondering if you all might be able to help me. I think my sister might have Histrionic Personality Disorder, but I'm not completely sure. I just came to this realization last night with the help of a friend, and have been researching HPD all day.

I don’t even know where to start in trying to describe her behavior. She has always victimized herself, and loves to play the victim. She expects to be apologized to constantly, yet never apologizes herself. She is now almost thirty years old, yet harps on things that happened ten, fifteen, twenty years ago - such as my family getting a new puppy when she was away at camp when she was sixteen years old, when she had said she wanted to be there for the puppy’s arrival. She rants and rants about these things until she cries and has temper tantrums, and it is always in the vein of how horrible everybody else is but her, and how horribly she is treated. She is very sullen and moody, and constantly seeks reassurance. She gets extremely upset when I do not share her taste in television shows and music, although I am always respectful about it, and say that we just have different tastes. She, meanwhile, is extremely volatile when I play a song she doesn’t like - she covers her ears, makes faces, says she hates it, etc. (If I acted that way to her, she would have a temper tantrum.) She seeks approval from everyone, but especially my mother. Sometimes she even has trouble ordering in restaurants without knowing my mother approves of her choice. She is very co-dependent on my mother in general, and extremely child-like in front of her - temper tantrums, clings to her and insists on sitting next to her a lot of the time, extremely demanding in general. She’s also very self-centered and EXTREMELY sensitive to criticism.

She’s been diagnosed with depression, and she loves going to therapy. However, I think she uses therapy as just another way to victimize herself, and feel sorry for herself. She lies constantly, and I cannot imagine her telling her therapist the truth. Rather, I believe she spins stories about how cruel everyone is to her.

There is also a history of mental illness in my family - my mother has been diagnosed with depression, I believe my father has depression, and I myself have OCD.

Finally, my sister is very manipulative. What hurts the most in all of this is that my parents will believe her lies about me. My sister just recently visited my husband and I for Thanksgiving, and needless to say, it was a disaster. But my parents refuse to believe my version of events, and repeat her lies. It is difficult to understand, as they know what she can be like - she is difficult around them all the time. I am the older sister, and have been branded the “responsible” one - I am expected to have my sister visit me, visit her, and be there for her in general, and it’s really starting to make me very sad that my parents don’t care how it effects me, and believe me to be the horrible person my sister says I am.

The reason I am unsure about her having HPD is mainly because she seems able to control her behavior. Is this something people with HPD can do? Although I cannot be completely sure, it seems that she behaves well in front of her friends. Yet when she is around family (and not one hundred percent of the time, we have had good visits in the past), she just becomes this other person. It might be because my mother has always given her whatever she wants and caves in to her every demand; if she nags long enough, she will get it. She also doesn’t seem to fit all the traits I’ve read about in people with this disorder - she doesn’t dress provocatively, she’s not impulsive, she’s not overly concerned with her physical appearance. Does it seem like my sister has HPD? Or, if not that, another personality disorder? I'm not even sure what I would do with this information - my sister would never listen, and my parents would only accuse me of trying to be cruel to her. I guess any explanation for her behavior would be helpful for me.

Thank you!

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Latchkey

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2019, 11:13:22 PM »
Hello and Welcome to OOTF!

Sounds like you've had a lot of realizations in a short period of time so make sure to give yourself time to digest what you are learning. It can be very overwhelming at first.

I'm sorry you are dealing with this with your sister. We can't diagnose here though I can say that yes, people with PDs can and do act differently in different situations. Often the worst of the behaviors are seen after you know someone long enough so family, partners, and co-workers often see things that therapists and casual acquaintances do not.

There is a great deal of debate in the psych community over diagnostic criteria. (See the Disorders link at the top of the forum) It is recognized that the criteria are very subjective and that makes them unstable because one practitioner may identify or observe a trait while another practitioner disagrees. Also, it has been found that PD's have a huge amount of overlap or "comorbidity" and that tends to suggest that the boundaries between "different" PD's don't really exist the way they have been defined.

That's one of the reasons why we have listed our own catalog of behaviors and traits and we spend very little time worrying about what diagnosing our PD loved-ones. What really matters is behavior, how it affects us and what we can do if/when exposed to those behaviors. See the Traits and also the Toolbox (links at top of forum)

This is an interesting article on the Narcissist Family System that might help explain some of the things going on:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201105/the-narcissistic-family-tree

Also, it's not recommend to share your thoughts on diagnosis with your sister or your parents- seeing a therapist yourself would be a good idea for you to work through some of this. This talks about "amateur diagnosis" and other things to do and things to avoid doing.

This is a good section to look at in terms of next steps :
https://outofthefog.website/what-not-to-do
https://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-1


I'm going to move this post to the welcome mat for you but please feel free to post anywhere and do check out Dealing with PD Siblings and other Family Members


We are here for you.
 :bighug:

Latchkey

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
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When we have the courage to do what we need to do, we unleash mighty forces that come to our aid.

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bgirl12

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2019, 11:23:22 PM »
I'm not sure what she is but she is just like my sister except I am the younger one. She turns everyone against everyone, my parents believe I ruin the holidays, even though she really does. I have no idea how she does it. Mine never grew up. She is in high school for 25 years now. I bet your holiday was terrible and so was ours. I can't wait to post about it but not really. What works for me is support, support groups, church friends, and opening up to people I can trust. I am no contact right now but may very well have to see her as a family member's illness may put me in the same hospital room. I have tried to detach with love so many times. I am most definitely detached, but not feeling much love. I don't try to make her life hard, she is just always angry and you never know who will get it from her. She causes drama and my other siblings blame me for not telling them the latest. I refuse to lie for her or pick up after her. I have learned a lot from this forum and website. So many on here have gone through and understand us. We are not alone. Be encouraged.

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dfwlgw

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2019, 11:24:39 PM »
Thank you very much. I really appreciate your reply, and will read the articles you posted. Thank you for this information!

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dfwlgw

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2019, 11:26:00 PM »
And thank you also for the other reply! It is helpful to hear I am not alone!

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Kat1984

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2019, 12:55:20 PM »
Hi dfwlgw,
I can join the group saying that your sister sounds like my sister!  But I am the younger one.  My sister is older than yours, but her behavior sounds similar.  She is quite a bit more subtle than yours in many ways, not overtly clingy to our mom.   She has been volatile all her life, exploding and getting red in the face, crying when people challenge her or appear to have a difference in opinion.   She is very up to date on politics and fairly extreme in her views, which we as family are fine with but she does not tolerate differences of opinion.   In her mind, you are either WITH her, or AGAINST her (read: enemy).   Once she identifies you as enemy, she will let you have it.    She only does this with family members, and only when no "outsiders" are around.   She literally will wait until the last guest has left the house and then explode on the family member before said guests have even driven away.  So I know that she can control it.  She looks sort of possessed when she explodes, much like a 4-year old having a huge tantrum.   

She has felt victimized her entire life.   It seems she always has a "tormentor de jour", someone who is being inexplicably cruel to her.   Someone trying to make her life terrible, for no reason.   She is completely innocent of all wrongdoing, and is very kind to all these people, according to her.   And we have allowed her to vent all of this for so many many years, because it's better she have an enemy outside the family than it be aimed at one of us.    She has been very indulged in this way.   Also, she has always felt I was the favorite child and that she has been a good soldier, being mistreated and misunderstood by us all her life.   In reality, she was a difficult child, but she was never abused and we all did the best we could in reacting to her tantrums.   No, we were not always perfectly supportive of them, especially when they were aimed at us, but we are not therapists and we got tired of being accused of things we didn't do.  I think we did a pretty good job for laypeople being raged at.

Does your sister think she can read your mind?   Mine does.   She thinks she knows more about me than I know about myself.   It's insulting.

She is not all bad, by any means.   In fact I'd say 95% of the time she is a delight.  Fun, creative, generous, smart.   But, as the nursery rhyme goes, "when she was good she was very very good and when she was bad she was horrid" (you may be too young to know that one LOL!).    And the horrid is just so unbelievably condescending and contemptuous that we are very low contact for the past year.    She will not apologize or take any accountability for raging at me in front of my children, namecalling, and criticizing my parenting and in fact, my whole way of being.  So in spite of all the good stuff, I have needed a year off and some peace.   We live very far apart so it's not too difficult to achieve but I do feel a huge void.  It's so sad, but with therapy I see that it is all her doing.

Things that have helped me: 
1)Therapy.  Just getting started with that but it's promising.   My therapist is not totally tuned into PD's, but as Latchkey said, the behaviors are more important than the labels.  I've always wondered if my sister has BPD, or NPD.   Though I do not think she would fit criteria, I very much see that she has some PD traits.   And that's what I need help dealing with.
2) Meditation has been a savior.   I learned to meditate and do it pretty much 15 minutes per day.   It has helped tremendously in my response to my sister.  It used to be that the cortisol/andrenergic cascade would get triggered when my sister had a tantrum.    My heartrate and BP skyrocketed and I started "catching" some of her anger.   I ended up looking and feeling sort of like her, by the end of it, red in the face and all.   Now I don't do that.  I remain totally calm even as she rages at me.  It is so wonderful I can't tell you.   And as a bonus, I think it makes her even madder ;).    I know that's mean, but it feels good to get a little even with her, because she always unloads on me and I never unload on her.
3)  reading a lot about PDs, and visiting this forum for support.  Writing about my experience on the forum.  Supporting others in the same boat.
4) journaling.   Just started this and I think it's helpful in terms of containing my thoughts to a specific amount of time and not letting it contaminate my whole day
5) learning about empathy by studying Buddhism.   I do have empathy for her, at least on a good day.
6).  Learning about the Drama Triangle.   I highly recommend googling it and learning about it.   I see how she positions herself as Victim, and even Rescuer sometimes.   I see her as Persecutor, though of course she wouldn't see that.   And of course I can be all 3 roles too.  Anybody can play all 3 roles.   It's fascinating once you understand the Triangle. 
7) understanding that I can only change me.   I am lucky in that my Mom "gets it".   She does not blame me for my estrangement with my sister.  My parents both enable her to some degree, but as a parent myself I do understand that going low contact with your child is much more difficult than going low contact with your sibling.   I'm really sorry your parents are not supporting you.  :(
8) talking with a very few friends, and my hubby, who "get it".   But also understanding that even those people, because they have not had this PD-thing aimed at them, do not truly "get it" the way I do.    And they probably do not want to hear about it all day, so I'm respectful.
9)  continuing to learn how to lovingly set Boundaries.   Even though the boundaries are what really makes her rage.

This is not for wusses.   I'm glad you are not letting yourself be abused.   This may be one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life and it's heartbreaking.   But I cannot lose myself for her PD. 

Wishing you the best, and hoping to see you around the boards.   



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guitarman

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2019, 08:39:26 PM »
You are not alone. I have an undiagnosed BPD/NPD sister. She also is very histrionic.

The Narcissistic Circle of Abuse is where the abuser turns everything around to become the victim. My sister pushes all my buttons to provoke me to shout at her so that she can then become the victim. I have learnt to stay calm and not play her games.

It's good to know that your sister is seeing a mental health professional. So she must have some sort of insight into her own upsetting, abusive behavour and that she needs support and is hopefully willing to change. You will never know what your sister discloses in her therapy sessions as they are private unless she tells you, but then you may not ever believe what she says.

The therapist will be getting her to examine her thoughts, feelings and behaviour. They will be challenging what she says, which she might find upsetting. It will be difficult for her to keep up the victim façade for a long time. With time the therapist should be able to see through it all.

As you say it seems that she is very immature. If my sister behaves like a child I will not behave like a child as well. I am an adult. My sister has screaming tantrums, sometimes shaking and collapsing on the floor. She can be easily triggered. She takes a long time to self soothe and calm down.

I have learnt that my sister can be very afraid, scared and frightened. She feels threatened. She can become overwhelmed and can't cope with stressful events. Knowing that has made me understand her better but it doesn't excuse her abusive behaviour. She can project all her problems onto other people. Then they can become the targets of her abuse.

Please speak out and get some professional help for yourself. X
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 08:41:03 PM by guitarman »
"Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace." - Dalai Lama

"You don't have to be a part of it, you can become apart from it." - guitarman

"Be gentle with yourself, you're doing the best you can." - Anon

"If it hurts it isn't love." - Kris Godinez, counsellor and author

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guitarman

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2019, 09:16:00 PM »
Kris Godinez is an author and counsellor who specialises in Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and how targets of abuse can cope better.

She gives regular live talks most Sundays on her YouTube channel called "We Need To Talk with Kris Godinez". Her talks are archived on her YouTube and Facebook sites.

I have found her very helpful and insightful.

Guitarman X
"Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace." - Dalai Lama

"You don't have to be a part of it, you can become apart from it." - guitarman

"Be gentle with yourself, you're doing the best you can." - Anon

"If it hurts it isn't love." - Kris Godinez, counsellor and author

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dfwlgw

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Re: Sister might have HPD?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2019, 02:23:01 PM »
Thank you so much for the replies. Although I am sorry that you are also struggling, it is really helpful to hear there are others in similar situations. It is amazing how similar it sounds - my sister also provokes and provokes and provokes until I finally snap, and then she becomes the victim. I'm finding it really helpful reading up on what you have posted, such as the Drama Triangle and the Narcissistic Circle of Abuse, it feels really gratifying to see what I believe I've experience there in black and white, and helps me to know that I'm not just crazy! It's also really nice just to be believed, so thank you for that. You are all really kind to write such thoughtful and detailed replies. I will take your advice.