Feelings of Emptiness - An acute, chronic sense that daily life has little worth or significance, leading to an impulsive appetite for strong physical sensations and dramatic relationship experiences.
Many people who suffer from personality disorders suffer from an Identity Disturbance that gives them an unstable or insecure sense of self. They may be prone to chronic and acute sense of nothingness or emptiness, so that they feel that their own existence has no worth or significance outside of the context of a strong physical sensation or of a relationship with others.
This can lead to desperate attempts to be in relationships with others - even at great cost, such as episodes of cheating or casual relationships. Being left alone or being ignored by others can be a terrifying prospect to some. This can result in a fear of abandonment or can lead to frantic attempts to create new relationships - even risky ones.
This sense of emptiness can also lead to impulsive behaviors such as picking fights, rages, hysteria, acting out, sabotage etc. in an attempt to create a crisis situation that draws the attentions of others.
In others, the sense of emptiness may be turned inward and result in avoidance, self-harm, self-loathing, panic attacks etc. Some incidences of self-harm are described by those who do it as an attempt to feel something. There is a need to somehow interact with the outside world in a way that relieves the sense of nothingness or the terror of being alone.
Examples of Feelings of Emptiness:
- "Always" and "Never" Statements - "Always" and "Never" Statements are declarations containing the words "always" or "never". They are commonly used but rarely true.
- Baiting - A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
- Chaos Manufacture - Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.
- Cruelty to Animals - Acts of Cruelty to Animals have been statistically discovered to occur more often in people who suffer from personality disorders than in the general population.
- Engulfment - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on another person, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.
- Fear of Abandonment - An irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.
- Hysteria - An inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the real problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.
- Identity Disturbance - A psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view
- Impulsiveness - The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
- Mirroring - Imitating or copying another person's characteristics, behaviors or traits.
- No-Win Scenarios - When you are manipulated into choosing between two bad options
- Panic Attacks - Short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as hyperventilating, shaking, sweating and chills.
- Perfectionism - The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.
- Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression - Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute. Rages threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their personal boundaries.
- Sabotage - The spontaneous disruption of calm or status quo in order to serve a personal interest, provoke a conflict or draw attention.
- Self-Harm - Any form of deliberate, premeditated injury, such as cutting, poisoning or overdosing, inflicted on oneself.
- Self-Loathing - An extreme hatred of one's own self, actions or one's ethnic or demographic background.
- Testing - Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to a relationship.
What it feels like:
It's common for family members and loved-ones of people who suffer from personality disorders to try to help fill the emotional void and try to compensate in the hope that they can help the person feel better. It's common to try a long list of approaches, including nutrition, social activity, religion, organizational approaches, vacations, relocations etc. in an attempt to find that elusive "key" to happiness of a loved-one.
However, this "fix-it" approach is rarely effective, since the underlying problem is often psychological, not circumstantial and when problems recur this can result in the caregiver becoming frustrated and impatient with the personality-disordered individual.
If you are sharing a home with someone who suffers from an acute or chronic pathological sense of emptiness you are probably going to have to give up on trying to fix the problem yourself and focus on what is going to help you to cope without the problem being fixed.
What NOT to do:
- Don't blame yourself for the situation or how another person feels about their life. Don't take responsibility for their state of mind. You have no control and you didn't create the problem.
- Don't blame the person who suffers from the personality disorder for having those feelings. Don't try to thought police them into a better attitude. Each person's feelings are their own property and few people would choose to have a personality disorder.
- Don't try to fix the problem. It is not yours to fix.
What TO do:
- Learn about personality disorders.
- Detach yourself from the feelings of the other person and situation yourself so that you can be happy and safe, regardless of their state of mind.
- Focus on behaviors not thoughts. Work on your own boundaries.
- Protect yourself from any acting out behaviors that may be going on. Don't stay in a situation where you are being verbally, physically or emotionally abused.
- Get support from people who understand what it is like to live with someone who suffers from a personality disorder.