Out of the FOG
Information and Support for Those With a Family Member or Loved One Who Suffers from a Personality Disorder
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Out of the FOG was written by a group of people who have experienced a relationship with a family member, spouse or partner who suffers from a personality disorder.
Personality disorders are serious mental-health conditions which affect millions of people but which often go undiagnosed and misunderstood. Personality disorders often deteriorate the quality of life not only of the people who suffer from them, but also their family members, spouses, partners, friends, colleagues and acquaintances.
The acronym FOG stands for Fear, Obligation & Guilt - feelings which often result from being in a relationship with a person who suffers from a Personality Disorder. It was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in their book "Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You."
It is the goal of this book to help inform and encourage family members, spouses, partners, friends and caregivers as they try to work their way out of the confusion, out of the chaos and out of the FOG.
The emphasis of Out of the FOG is to describe personality disorders from a Non-personality-disordered individual's point of view. In other words; what is it like to live with a person with Narcissitic or Borderline Personality Disorder? What’s it like to have a parent with a Histrionic or Dependent Personality Disorder? How do you cope when confronted with the prospect of caring for someone with Obsessive-Compulsive or Avoidant Personality Disorder?
The descriptions of personality disorders given in this book are based not only on the clinical criteria used for diagnosis but also on the experiences of people who have cared for someone who suffers from a personality disorder; what it feels like, what works and what doesn't.
We often think of people in simple terms such as good and bad, friends and enemies, loving and hateful. Personality disorders are not so simple and the people who suffer from them often exhibit behaviors which are at times constructive and at other times destructive. This often creates confusion for those who come into contact with them.
If you have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, it is our hope that the information contained here may help you understand these behaviors better and navigate out of the FOG in your own life.
This book and organization promotes what they refer to as a "Different Perspective" (chapter 5). It is different but I'm not sure that it is good for every one.
The perspective is: 1. Bad relationship behavior by your partner or parent means they have a personality disorder. 2. Personality disorder means the relationship problems are "all their fault". 3. "All their fault" means that you should go no contact and remove from them from your life.
This might be ok if the person in your life is easily expendable and you have no role in the relationship problems, but how often does that happen? The information we really need is how to evaluate and navigate relationship problems with difficult people.
A cornerstone of this organization is its encouragement of amateur diagnoses of mental illnesses based on 100 behaviors that are listed in Chapter 7. Problem is, there is no clinical evidence to correlate the relationship of these behaviors to mental illness and the list looks nothing like the conventional textbook definitions. The author is just winging it - making it up.
The 100 behaviors include things like blaming, mood swings, name calling, entitlement, favoritism, anger, and low self esteem - behaviors which are not exclusive to Personality Disorders. Frankly, I would doubt that any relationship that has soured didn't exhibit some of these behaviors. I would doubt anyone reading the list hasn't exhibited some of these behaviors at some point in their life.
Let's look at one from the list, "Confirmation Bias". Confirmation Bias is defined by the author as the tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.
But confirmation bias is a normal human inclination. It is not mentioned in the American Psychiatric Association manual of mental illness anywhere.
Diagnosing mental illness is far more complex than this book and checklist suggest. The National Institute of Health already reports that 28% of the US population has a definable mental illness or substance abuse problem. Many professionals believe that this reflects a problem in how we define mental illness and that the hurdle is set too low.
The DSM, which defines mental illness in the US is being revised in 2013 to address, in part, this issue. One area of focus is are the "personality disorders" and 45% are scheduled to be removed from the DSM.
Gary Walther, on the other hand, is promoting a scheme with far lower hurdles. Using his criteria, the majority of the US population would qualify as being mentally ill.
Labeling the other person in the relationship conflict as mentally ill is probably not the first place to start. This is not to say the person is not difficult. It is to say, however, that there is a huge difference between a person with a narcissistic personality style and a person with clinical Narcissistic Personality Disorder.