Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You An Antisocial Rule-breaker?

The Antisocial Rule-breaker personality pattern (or personality disorder) relies on a set of unconscious assumptions that directly affect how you perceive, think, feel, and act.

Emotional Dynamics

The Antisocial Rule-breaker pattern requires you to deny and conceal your real emotions. Thick-skinned and self-contained, you treat people like pawns in the chess game of life. You avoid sincere communication because you don’t want to cultivate intimacy, which could give other people control over you. You suspect those who show you goodwill, believing it to be an attempt to exploit. 

The Rule-breaker pattern triggers emotions that stem from social resentment: hostility toward authority, anger when challenged, frustration in the face of delayed gratification, excitement when conning someone, and pleasure when outsmarting people. The price paid for these defensive tactics? Chronic inner emptiness and feelings of alienation from life and God.

Rule-breaker Body Language

It seems like you gaze directly, conveying a fearless nonchalance. You’re actually sizing up a person for any signs of trust you can exploit.

How about the soft, seductive look? It beguiles people to feel curious and intrigued. They sense your creative flair, but don’t know it will be used against them.

Then there’s the innocent smile. This look says, “You can trust me with your deepest secret. I’ve been around and I can help you out in life. You need someone like me to take care of things.”  

The apostle Paul understood this pattern: “By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people” (Rom 16:18 NLT).

Rule-breaker Self-Talk

The automatic self-talk of the Rule-breaker pattern focuses on self against the world, and sounds like this:
  • I need to look out for myself.
  • It’s all right for me to say one thing and do another.
  • If I don’t take advantage of people, someone else will.
  • Following rules is stupid. Take what you can get and run.
  • I get a thrill from breaking rules and thumbing my nose at authority.

The Antisocial Rule-breaker Pattern in Action

I am relaying a true story, camouflaging the details, of an experience I had years ago. 

Dr. S. was an ambitious young psychiatrist with a thriving practice who wanted to share my office space with me. He seemed friendly and professional, so I agreed. I liked his gift of the gab and boisterous, off-the-wall humor.

I really enjoyed the first month of our association. Dr. S. would come bouncing into the clinic, brimming with energy and cracking jokes. But by the third month his happy-go-lucky smile had waned. He came to my office and said that the IRS was giving him problems. Could I pay his portion of the month’s rent? He said he’d pay me back the following month.

But he didn’t.

“You’re first on my list, Danny boy. I’m expecting some checks to arrive any day now from my patients’ insurance claims.”

But that day never came.

In our seventh month together, Dr. S. asked if he could try out one of the personality assessments that I used with my clients. “I’d like to borrow your computer’s scoring code so I can score one test,” he said. “I’ll pay you for it next week.”

Since I was used to trusting professional colleagues, I agreed. So I was shocked when I received a sizable bill from the testing company. Dr. S. had processed twenty of these pricey tests under my name.

I confronted him.

I would never do such a thing,” Dr. S. protested. “The company has obviously made a mistake. I’ll phone them right now and get it straightened out.”

He sounded so sincere that I questioned my judgment.

The worst was yet to come. The following week, Dr. S. entered my office, looking crestfallen. “Dan, buddy, I’m real sorry about this, but the insurance companies are hassling me big time. I’m going to have to declare bankruptcy. I’ll have to write off the money I owe you.” He smiled sorrowfully and walked out.

Finally acknowledging the reality of a Rule-breaker pattern in action, that week I dissolved our association and found a new office.

Dr. S. wrote me a scathing letter. “I’m appalled at your disloyalty. You are not a true friend!”

For more on the Antisocial Rule-breaker personality pattern, read:

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