The book of psychiatric diagnoses, the DSM V, tries hard to be exact and specific. Emotional disorders however are rarely exact; they are often so nuanced and subtle they do not neatly fit into any category.
Take disorders involving anger. An individual who has impulsive, aggressive outbursts could be labeled Intermittent Explosive Disorder. A person who is going through a tough time and becomes aggressive may garner the diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with Disturbance of Conduct.
OK, but what about a man or woman who has a major attitude? Their presence can alter the mood in a room, and personality is so dominant and controlling others find it excruciating to be around them. They may not qualify for a diagnosis, yet most people reading this column know several people whose anger and bitterness is so overwhelming, so omnipresent, being in the same room is exhausting.
An emotional bully is very different from a person who does not understand personal space or has problems reading social cues. A man or woman with ADHD or Autism may not always be aware another’s “space” but they are not being intentionally rude or dominant. The person, however, who gets up into another’s face, interrupts and has a self-satisfied smirk of derision, this individual is not stumbling into causing discomfort.
Just once I’d like to see a book that identifies attitude, bullying and mocking as being significant emotional disorders. Usually, a diagnosis has to interfere with a person’s ability to work or have relationships to qualify as a disorder. But what about an individual whose personality prevents others from feeling peaceful and safe; these people are every bit as disruptive, at times more so, than those with psychiatric diagnoses.
They may not be seen as emotionally disturbed because they can turn their attitudes on and off or focus their rage on specific individuals. I have treated men and women who can be the most charming, socially adept people you’d ever meet yet when they are around a former spouse, specific relative or friend, like the Incredible Hulk, their personalities morph.
As far as I have read, there is no psychiatric disorder whose main symptom is being mean. There are disorders in which a person feels threatened by imaginary fears and strikes out accordingly. This type of paranoia is a real and scary illness but like any sick person, it is hoped we would feel compassion. It is more challenging, however, to feel compassion for the person who enjoys bullying and knows they are doing it.
Most of us avoid these people so they keep on controlling, intimidating and doing what they do best: making others uncomfortable. Here’s where the book of subtleties would come in handy. I believe it would help us all to be able to identify bullying and controlling behaviors. For one thing, it would help their victims feel less off balance and just might have the consequence of exposing bullying for what it is…an act of entitlement.
Mitchell Rosen is a licensed therapist with practices in Corona and Temecula.
Link Original: http://www.pe.com/2017/09/02/mitchell-rosen-bullying-mocking-can-be-significant-emotional-disorders/