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At 35, I've just been diagnosed with "Severe complex PTSD" from childhood trauma..

  • 01-09-2023 12:41am
    Registered Users Posts: 2,228 ✭✭✭

    Hello all,

    I don't really come around here much any more, but I just wanted to share this with somebody.

    The last 24 hours has me pretty much floored after my formal diagnosis of the above. This was based on the back of therapy I started recently and it transpires that my dad is a massive narcissist.. and I also learned how he has treated my mother over the years. Following that I mentioned various issues in my life that lead to the formal assessment, and diagnosis.

    The childhood trauma being a number of things from my childhood. Not sexual/physical abuse, but more of the mental type. My therapist mentioned "Narcissistic abuse syndrome"

    I want to be free and open about discussing this with people.. I'm happy to tell them the diagnosis, but I don't want to mention the childhood bit, and I don't want to drop my father in it either. I still love him, but that said, I do resent him more and more each day for basically everything at this point - it's pretty mental tbh.

    Has anybody else ever found themselves in a similar situation?


  • Registered Users Posts: 925 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    You can't diagnose someone based on other people's emotionally biased accounts of them. Your therapist could suspect it but its very different from your dad getting a genuine diagnosis. Every 2nd person these days think their parents they had a bad relationship with or exes are narcissists and thier situation is unique, very few genuinely are in reality, it's a rare condition. Unqualified therapist/ social workers are very liberal dropping these buzz terms because it validates clients pre conceived notions and they're more likely to keep paying/coming back. So be careful talking about your father in such terms when your therapist could never have known for sure, theyre more than likely wrong and all it confirms is they're probably not worth your money and telling you what you want to hear.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,000 ✭✭✭fizzypish

    Its useful to know why we are the way we are. My dad treated me like X so now I'm like Y etc... Its useful when you do something or behave in a certain way to be able to say "O thats because of X and Y". It helps identify behaviours that have negative impacts on our lives and that we want to change. Your dad being a "whatever" isn't massively important anymore. You are an adult now. You decide the changes you want to make. Its great understanding why you behave in certain ways but the key moving forward is how do I change the behaviours in myself. You have all the agency here to change yourself in any way you chose. Its hard but you can do it. Don't dwell on diagnosis. Its just another useful piece of info that depending on the source may or may not be accurate.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,949 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78

    jaysus, thats a fairly cynical opinion about therapists, yes the term narcissist is being thrown around a lot these days, some rightfully, some wrongly, but i do believe we truly have entered the era of this truly awful human trait, and (un)social media is a perfect example of this, but thankfully more and more are learning about it. you d be shocked with the amount of people that more than likely have narcissistic based disorders, cluster b's, and even co-morbid disorders that can co-exist with narcissism, including my own, asd, such behaviors are in fact extremely harmful to those in close proximity.....

    theres actually some exceptional therapists around, and then of course some truly awful ones to, we really need to get our sh1t together in regards regulations here, if the op has found their therapist via their gp, theres probably an extremely good chance, the therapist is very good, and is well vetted etc

    theres nothing fun about something as serious as cPTSD, this can cause severe emotional problems, in nearly every aspect of ones life, op keep going to your sessions, and be patient, this process can be very slow, and very painful at times, but worth it

    you may or may not find ramani's youtube channel helpful, a lot of stuff on youtube about this trait

    best of luck

  • Registered Users Posts: 925 ✭✭✭TheadoreT

    I didn't say there aren't excellent therapists. Ones who give definitive diagnosis of 3rd parties based on biased anecdotal evidence certainly aren't.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,632 ✭✭✭

    do you actually agree with the diagnosis though? Without some concrete examples and the fact you still love him, it doesn't seem to fit the bill

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,523 ✭✭✭Tombo2001

    I would tend to go with TheadoreT to a degree on this one.

    A diagnosis in a medical sense is - yes we've tested your blood and we can see X. Its there, clearcut.

    In this type of thing, it is more of an opinion based on what you have said.

    Narcissism is a label; personally I am not sure how much it tells you.

    More importantly, I am not sure how much it helps you.

    Personally, i would find it more helpful to talk about behaviour patterns - which are real, and are specific and which you can be accurate about.

    Which may well have been traumatic; but I suppose at least when someone says - when person X did this, over and over, it was a display of Y type of behaviour - you can understand it, and it helps you understand yourself and to deal with it, and also possibly to avoid becoming it.

    When someone says - person X was a narcissist- for me its like, wtf does that even would confuse me.

    Dont forget- there are two labels that have been thrown at you here - Narcissism and PTSD. Again, what does either of thse things mean in the first place. Personally I would find it a bit confusing; I'd rather talk about how I feel.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,218 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

    Hi OP- hope you’re well today.

    What strikes me is that you have a whole load of terms and “labels” that outside of your own therapy, may not mean a whole lot to most people.

    In addition, as you can see here, there are already people “debating” aspects of the diagnosis which is quite extraordinary in itself.

    Leaving all that aside for the mods to deal with, I guess a question that you might want to start considering, that will help you talk to others that you wish to open up to about this “diagnosis” is “So what?”

    Leaving aside the “label” of your condition, what does this condition mean in terms of :

    1. Day to day impact on you personally
    2. Day to day impact on those around you
    3. What visible behaviour that others might observe that you want to explain to people so that they better understand you ?

    Now that you have a “diagnosis” do you feel any different? Does it make it easier for you or harder for you to live life? How brighter is the future as a result of this news?

    I hope some of the above will help. Maybe some of your current behaviour that’s observable by others is causing you concern - or maybe it’s not. Try and define to what degree others need to know about this- what’s the benefit of knowing? What potential challenges might there be?

    Best of luck whatever you decide.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,228 ✭✭✭techguy

    I agree, and thank you for calling me out on throwing the term around. Firstly, on the "genuine diagnosis" comment. I would question the practicality of that - let's consider for a second that as a "victim" in therapy it's difficult to diagnose the other person, because for somebody with similar traits, how to do get them into a professional setting for a diagnosis? Sure "they are fine and nothing wrong with them..". So here we are, as victims trying to figure out what is going on.

    My therapist did caveat using the word early on but as time went on and the more I described things, they were more comfortable with it (I know!). And I used to say "exhibits narcissistic like behaviour" instead of calling him a narcissist.

    Narcissist he may not be, sure. But what is the term for somebody who is NEVER wrong, won't listen, manipulates conversations, exhibits assertive physical behaviour if not being agreed to (standing up, raised voice), cannot admit to anything that may possibly portray them negatively (wrong, lonely, lack of knowledge of a topic). I'm sure "ar$ehole", "full of ones own importance", "not a nice person" aren't clinical terms, what singular word would you use? I am genuinely asking.. I would really rather not use N word improperly.

    I appreciate therapy and therapists can be a minefield in it's way.. I seem happy with this therapist for now as she has been making a lot of sense to me etc. Now part of me has wondered about the concerns you outlined above etc.. like making me feel better to keep paying etc. I did wonder once, if I should pause working with her.. go and visit somebody else, provide the same information and see what they say. That is fantastic if I get the same feedback, opinions etc .. but it could be a disaster if I get a bunch of alternative/conflicting opinions.

    That is valuable insight, thank you. I get the whole "labelling" thing is part of the process, but I guess it's a necessary evil.

    The main thing for me going forward, is exactly like you say: I am x because of y, regardless of what y really is etc.. I just need to focus on doing z so I can improve my own life.

    I'm not gonna lie - I found this person on BetterHelp, as I said i'd give it a go. I didn't vet at all, as I was jumping in naively.

    The reason I was comfortable to remain as I found it interactive with meaningful responses and explanations of how various things work in relationships/conflict for example. I tried therapy in my early 20s and it was total crap. My therapist was like a brick wall and only response I ever got was of the "well, what do you think..." kind. Turned me off therapy for years (lost all faith) but it turns out that was "rogerian therapy" and not for me.

    For reference, qualification/certification detail is:

    • Registered with British Association of Psychotherapists (BABCP)
    • AQA Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling Level 4

    After some research online of the traits of a person with NPD etc, I find it hard to disagree. That said, I do come from a more scientific school of thinking and believe misdiagnosis is easy when via a third party (me).

    For ease of reading, I will copy some of a previous answer:

    Narcissist he may not be, sure. But what is the term for somebody who is NEVER wrong, won't listen, manipulates conversations, exhibits assertive physical behaviour if not being agreed to (standing up, raised voice), cannot admit to anything that may possibly portray them negatively (wrong, lonely, lack of knowledge of a topic). I'm sure "ar$ehole", "full of ones own importance", "not a nice person" aren't clinical terms, what singular word would you use? I am genuinely asking.. I would really rather not use N word improperly.

    So here's the thing.. I still love him because he is my father and that's how I was raised.. for example my mother used to explain how she would "always love me" even if I murdered somebody. Sure she might be very angry, and would't have a problem with me going to prison for example, because justice etc.. but she would still always love me... so in this instance, I still love my dad despite his shortcomings (The D in NPD means disorder)..

    Do I absolutely resent him now that I have seen how he carries on and treats my mother (and me) over the last few years. Do I have very little interest in spending time, engaging with him right now. Am I concerned about the possibility of ending up flat out hating him over the course of the rest of our lives.

    The answer is an unequivocal yes to all in the last paragraph. Which in itself has had a big impact on me and dealing with that is part of this whole new process.

    THANK YOU ALL for listening and engaging on this. Happy Friday, eh!? :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,632 ✭✭✭

    an example would be needed of the treatment, could be totally annonymous

    if the treatment was a bad a to give you server complex PTSD I'm not so sure the blanket hes my father I love him would apply

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,228 ✭✭✭techguy

    You mean treatment of my father towards me..? I'm not going to get into that here, but I don't want to explore your commentary about the "he's my father" love not applying.

    Over the years, i've experienced various things in different ways which have clearly had an effect and I found difficult at the time time. While I found I only conflicted with my dad, for the most part.. I never really put it all on him. I always felt that it was my fault, I was wrong.. I was the difficult person etc.. so as such I never built up any resentment towards him - a question mark/unknown if anything.

    Fast forward to today.. everything is still quite fresh and I am only parsing it I haven't immediately changed tack and discarded any love for him.. but note I also did mention that I am concerned that throughout the remainder of our time together I might end up really resenting/hating/not loving him, once I have unpicked and digested everything.

    -- Separate to response to above thread --

    Regarding the diagnosis of "Severe cPTSD" My therapist did pull out a very thick book, which I assumed was a full on psych evaluation diagnostics type manual. She asked me the questions and rated them etc. A series of "do I experience / feel x, y, z with yes/no answer", type questions.. My answers were honest. I feel confident in that diagnosis and it doesn't really need debating here, in my opinion.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,755 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997


    Post edited by Flinty997 on

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,987 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Continue working with your therapist. Before you start talking about your past to others be patient and work through it with your therapist. If you're saying you're concerned about the implications it might have talking about your dad, you didn't cause this. You're not causing any harm to anyone by talking about it, whatever happened was caused to you.

    By your own words, you say you're floored by what your therapist said so it must be still a bit raw. Give yourself some time, learn to how to get to grips with it and then you'll be ready to share it with others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,054 ✭✭✭Fakediamond

    In terms of knowing how to interact with a narcissist, Dr Ramani is already referenced above. I would also recommend Dr Les Carter who has tons of excellent advice on how to engage with a narc while protecting yourself, you’ll find him on YouTube.

    You may well end up limiting your contact with your father but if that’s healthier for you, then that’s what you can work towards over time.