Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Does Craziness Run in Families

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
William Shakespeare

The whole nature versus nurture thing recently to mind. I've documented Sybil's issues here kind of ad nauseum. This blog is kind of a place for me to vomit up my frustrations of dealing with an irrational person that the only reality is her feelings. Learning to separate and wall-off my feelings/emotions in dealing with her is my life's work. It seems that this may be a learned behavior or possibly genetic. Two incidents have come to the fore:

Incident 1: Father-in-law was cleaning the garage and came upon some old baby bottles that mother-in-law was saving. They were from Sybil's brother's kids. Anyway, father-in-law thew them away without asking mother-in-law. Apparently, that was the wrong thing to do. Mother-in-law "punished" him for days. She stormed out of the house and walked off to parts unknown, she threw water on him, she totally went berserk. One would have thought he had thrown away priceless heirlooms not old bottles. Sybil states that the can understand why mother-in-law feels that way. Her dad did not ask first which makes her mother feel unloved. It isn't the bottles per se; it's the lack of taking into account the other person's feelings.

Incident 2: We are planning a big visit to Sybil's parents' house soon.  Sybil sent a text to her sister indicating that it would be nice to see her siblings.  Her sister replied with a nasty text basically calling out Sybil on expecting too much from her siblings.  The tone and wording were drama inducing.

Are personality disorders (PDs) genetic or learned?  Personally, I lean towards learned.  I believe Sybil learned and repeated many of the same techniques that her mother and sister use: over the top reactions to innocuous situations, lack of empathy on how their responses affect others, uncaring on how their emotional outbursts affect others, total lack of responsibility of "keeping their side of the road clean", etc.  I think that no one held the mother accountable for how she treated others.  Therefore, Sybil and sister learned that this treatment of others is justified.  It explains why Sybil is always surprised that I react angrily to her bullshit.  After all, Sybil is just trying to have a conversation.

If PDs are genetic, I do not think that Sybil and her sister (also sister's daughter) would have signs of it.  Genetic diseases tend to skip a generation or not affect everyone in the family.  Also, for it to affect the women of the family is really rare.  Therefore, I posit that PDs are learned.  Interestingly, co-dependents are the other side of the coin.  Co-dependents are created by PDs, and PDs are created by other PDs.  Also, our daughter does not exhibit too much PD behavior.  I think that maybe our past fighting and my standing up to her may have ameliorated that.  The sister's daughter exhibits PD traits, so maybe the husband did not stand up to her as much.  I have no way to know, since I do not live with her.

Interesting case study.  More thoughts to come.