Male Survivors

by: Michaela St. James

The Institute is frequently asked ‘What about the men? What about male survivors? Are females pathological too?’ Pathology is not gender-specific. It’s a mental health issue which means it effects men and women. There are some personality disorders that are more frequent in women and some that are more frequent in men. However, all personality disorders effect both men and women.

The disorders that occur more in women are Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), Borderline Personality
Disorder (BPD), Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD). In men, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD) and Socio/psychopathy are more frequent. Yet, in both sexes any personality disorder (or mental illness for that fact), is possible.

In personality disorders, 60% of people who have one personality disorder have more than one which is why they refer to these disorders as ‘clusters.’ Clusters have overlapping symptoms in which the person is likely to have traits from other disorders within that cluster. For instance in women, many women who have Borderline Personality Disorder also have Narcissistic Personality Disorder or at least, traits of that disorder. Likewise, Histrionics can have BPD or BPD traits. The rule of thumb is the more personality disorders or disorder traits, the more difficult the relational problems and tension can be.

Women can have Anti-Social Personality Disorder or be socio/psychopaths. Ironically, studies show that women who truly are ASPD or socio/psychopaths are often under-diagnosed or mis-diagnosed as BPD only. I don’t know if it is a gender bias that doesn’t want to think about women in those levels of disorders or if the female presentation of those disorders are different and consequently not as recognized. The Institute has noticed that there are deviations in presentation of symptoms in women that are often unrecognized by their male partner.

Some of the most frequent problems with women who have personality disorders are:
* Constant Drama/Chaos

* Addiction

* Sexual Addiction/Acting Out

* Self Injury

* Eating Disorders

* Spending Problems

* Alleging violence when it has not occurred

* Parental Alienation against the male parent

* Mood instability

* Self Absorption

(It needs to be said that all women who have these symptoms are not necessarily personality disordered. For instance, not all women who have eating disorders have a personality disorder. However, many of these symptoms are seen more readily in women who do have personality disorders.)

How these symptoms are interactive in an intimate relationship is where the relational harm happens. While
personality disorders are challenging, if not out right damaging to others inter-personally, men can have specific problems in dealing with women who have personality disorders. Abuse by her, whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, is hard for men to come forward and admit or reach out for therapy about. It is likely that men will tolerate and experience it for long periods of time before recognizing it as abuse or doing anything about it. They are even more unlikely to discuss it with male friends or family and are often less believed by others.

Confusion over what is a personality disorder in a woman and what is hormonal changes is also an issue that men confess. They can’t tell the difference between mood fluctuations in a personality disorder and hormonal cycles. They often can’t tell the difference between ‘female emotions’ and excessive emotionality often seen in BPD and HPD. These inabilities to differentiate also contribute to their delay in getting the support they need.

These are by far, not the only symptoms or issues men face in relationships with personality disordered women. The emotional ups and downs, ‘walking on egg shells,’ and extremes in behavior are the tip of the iceberg when looking comprehensively at the big picture.

‘Why did I pick her?’ is often asked. Men, much like the women we researched in ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ tend to be highly compassionate, empathetic, tolerant, loyal, and helpers. Seeing the chaos in her life is often a hook to men they can’t refuse and she’s willing to allow him to rescue, bail her out, or finance her lifestyle. His ability to understand his patterns of selection and the concrete facts about pathology are just as crucial for him as they are for women.

The Institute offers specialized Pathological Love Relationship coaching for men. Most of our coaches all have had male clients in these same relationships. In the near future, we hope to add male coaches who men as well. We welcome the opportunity to offer support, and coaching to those who need extra insight about their current situations.

Sandra L. Brown, M.A. who is the author of ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man,’ ‘Counseling Victims of Violence,’ and ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ has written a book specifically for men called ‘How to Avoid Dating Damaged and Destructive Women‘ which is about personality disorders, addictions, and other mental health issues in women that are likely to produce relational harm.

You can purchase this e-book on our site at:

Or sign up for phone coaching at: