The Predictability of Pathology

“You are describing my relationship EXACTLY!”

 “He has said those exact words to me.”

 “How do you know what my relationship is like—how can you know this?”

I accurately describe people’s relationships because, to a certain extent, parts of pathology and their behavior is predictable. Pathology is related to certain personality and psychological disorders. Each one of these personality disorders has its own set of behaviors, dysfunctions and, for some of the disorders, neurological abnormalities.

To know the personality disorder is to know the behavior—either now or in the future. This is why Public Pathology Education is information for everyone because anyone can learn to predict, to a certain extent, the kinds of behaviors that are likely to manifest in the pathological in their life.

Criminal profiling, to a large extent, is exactly that—knowing what the behavior is likely to be given their probable diagnosis of antisocial, sociopath or psychopath. Although your pathological might not be criminal, this approach still applies. His behavior is predictable.

Each personality disorder has its own set of behaviors. Pathology is related to:

  • The inability to sustain consistent positive change
  • The inability to grow to any authentic emotional or spiritual depth
  • The inability to develop deep insight about how their negative behavior affects others

Once you understand the behaviors related to what Otto Kernberg calls the ‘dangerous and severe personality disorders,’ and you apply the Absolutes of Pathology—the inability to sustain change, grow, or develop insight—then you can pretty much take the behaviors now and apply them to the future in ANY relationship. His behaviors related to his specific personality disorder are permanent. The neuroscience that now supports abnormalities in Cluster B disorders and psychopathy also highlights the issues that, since these are brain-region problems (not just brain chemistry/medication problems), their permanence is much more a factor.

If someone cannot grow or change, their behaviors aren’t going to change. If the behaviors aren’t going to consistently change and stay changed, they will be the same today as they were 10 years ago — in a relationship, career or interaction — and they will be the same 20 years from now.

If they don’t have the ability to develop true insight about their behavior, then I can tell you what it’s like to communicate with someone who can’t see their own faults. If their brain regions that affect impulse control, bonding/attachment, and the inability to learn from past mistakes are faulty, we know what the future will be like for them.

Our goal in Public Pathology Education is for others to understand that you, too, can learn to loosely predict pathological behavior based on past or current behavior. Once you understand the symptoms of the personality disorder, you can expect these behaviors to continue. The more you understand the Absolutes of Pathology, the more clearly you can understand what their future is likely to hold for them and others in their life. It isn’t hard to predict something that doesn’t change!

The exception to that rule is when violence is, or has been, involved. Pathologicals with violence issues can be erratic and unstable. Predicting their ability to be currently non-violent based on past nonviolent episodes is too risky and may not follow the patterns they normally follow. Pathologicals who are addicts are hard to predict because of the instability of the person in an addiction. With violence, sexual offenses or addiction the rule of thumb is that the predictability factor is likely to be too risky to judge. When in doubt, doubt his predictability in violence, addiction or sexual offenses.

Otherwise, pathology is fairly easy to call. When someone doesn’t change, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you’re wondering what your pathological was like in the relationship before you or will be like in the one after you, just gauge from where they are today.


(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about pathological love relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)