Debunking the Myth of Cluster B Abuse.
If one digs deep enough online, they are guaranteed to find it. “5 signs you’re married to a narcissist”, “how to fix your borderline”, and the list goes on. At first, these titles may seem harmless enough, however, they contribute to ableism. “Cluster B Abuse” is a false yet common myth perpetuated against those living with cluster b personality disorders. Not only is the idea of any disorder being inherently abusive harmful to those it stigmatises, it’s based on pseudoscience, also hurts the victims, as well as undermining the very real struggles those suffering from said disorders experience.
Common symptoms of Cluster B personality disorders are often wrongfully demonised. For example, In media and in the public eye, the most common perception of a cold blooded killer, perhaps described as a “psychopath”, or “antisocial”, often lacks empathy, has little to no remorse and is willing to resort to exploitation of other people to meet their own end goal. While this may seem harmless at first- accurate even, it is important to note how stigmatising this trope can be. The reason this causes harm is because unless said person actually presents those traits, which they usually don’t, it would not be the right place to use such a term. It is a sadly popular misconception that lack of empathy equates to lack of sympathy or compassion, which is most definitely not the case, as it’s possible for a person who doesn’t feel with the other to still have a desire to help. Even when someone lacks empathy, sympathy and compassion, they have more to do than plot to destroy lives. While someone may lack remorse, they can also be capable of logical thinking, as everyone is, including whether or not they should have done a certain action. This means that they will not irrationally desire to cause harm as logically speaking, that would not only require an excessive amount of time put in, but in most cases the repercussion isn’t worth it. In short, it will never not be wrong to use real symptoms to describe anything undesirable.
A common perpetrator for the Cluster B scare would be the “empath” community, a group who believe they have the ability to sense the spiritual energy and telepathically understand those around them. They often fall into the belief that Cluster B individuals, especially narcissists, actively drain their energy, and purposely wish to harm them. Such a belief as it stands right now has no studies to back it up, nor does it base itself off of credible, already existing theory, only recognized as pseudoscience, as the very idea of empaths is not medically recognized nor is it a possible diagnosis. A group cannot be victimised if they do not even exist in the first place. That being said, the speculated reason for this would be an “us vs. them” mentality, as it is common for Cluster B individuals to lack empathy, while self-proclaimed empaths are the opposite. This severely contributes to the spread of Cluster B demonization.
Not only does the stigma harm Cluster B individuals themselves, they ultimately do harm to victims as well. Falsely pinning down blame on those who have Cluster B disorders takes attention away from the main issue, the abuse itself, so survivors focus on everyday people simply minding their own business. Studies prove that abusers are no more likely to be mentally ill than non-abusers, and even survivors. A simple browse through so called support groups for “Cluster B Abuse”, and a disturbing issue arises. Because of how big it has become, there has always been a possibility of a cluster B individual themself stepping into one. Because of the misinformation, upon receiving diagnosis, they feel stress, pain and even guilt. No survivor of abuse wants to become the abuser, and instead of irrational fear and hatred, there should be unbiased and open support. On top of this, personality disorders can be formed through trauma, including trauma stemmed from abuse. This fact itself should exemplify how the exclusive nature of support communities can do such damage. Regardless of who someone is or what they are diagnosed with, they deserve community and support, and not to be shunned from them based off what is out of their control.
The current narrative painted about anyone with a Cluster B disorder is not of struggle, suffering, sadness, or even the joy in finally being able to seek and receive treatment. It is of a cartoon villain, someone who schemes to wreck the lives of the oh-so-innocent neurotypicals and self-proclaimed empaths. This portrayal, however, could not be less accurate. Most Cluster B’s are prone to feeling the need to please at all times, heightened anxiety from fear of abandonment, and a desire to be special. At times, even a simple flaw pointed out can lead to a breakdown. This, paired with the impulsivity and unpredictability, makes it clear how much these disorders, same as any, are filled with not malice, but struggle. All of this combined together creates a terrifying suicide rate, studies show people with ASPD are likely to have a higher rate of suicidal ideation, and borderlines having a suicide rate of 95. The struggle of unlearning internalised ableism stemming from the scapegoating will make seeking out help for such thoughts and other struggles so much more of a challenge.
In conclusion, Cluster B stigma is no help to anyone. It reinforces negative stereotypes about symptoms already difficult to manage, has no scientific backing, creates more stress for victims, but also invalidates an already hated group’s struggle. The best thing to do is warn against abuse itself, and encourage a community free from judgement, victim blaming and any other toxic mindset of the sort. The world doesn’t need any more problems as it is, and it’s time to cast aside such irrational judgements.