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Narcissism, ASD or just an awkward S*D(38 Posts)
Firstly a disclaimer, I know it is annoying for people with ASD or with children with ASD to be associated with neagtuve character traits in this way, but I have specific reasons for wondering about this, which hopefully will become clear.
My husband is a very difficult man. We have been married for 10 years and have 3 dds and over this time I have learnt how to handle him to reduce conflict, but I don't think he has really changed.
He is very controlling. He has managed to change this in the way he interacts with me, as if he hadn't, he would have lost me, but it still comes out. Lots of passive aggressive behaviour, if something isn't his idea, he will make sure he stamps something of him on it one way or the other. This is the narcissism suspicion, along with the fact that he seems unable to imagine how his behaviour might impact upon others.
However, he also has an element of oversensitivity which makes me question how much control he has over his behaviour. He is extremely sensitive to sounds, smells and tastes. His job involves working in peoples homes (he is self employed, don't think he could stand working with others), and has actually cancelled lucrative contracts due to the smell of someones home. I know the oversensitivity is genuine as I have seen evidence of his ridiculously acute sense of smell. For example a cat ran into our house from the garden, when DH came back from work, he could smell it (also allergic to cats and dogs). He is not sensitive to fabrics though, which I know many people with ASD are.
The other thing that makes me suggest ASD is that while he is completely insensitive to people feelings (has made people cry and not been able to understand why), he is very strongly affected by seeing people ill, he has been reduced to tears by me being ill (I have a long term illness which is OK for ages and then symptoms return), and will do anything and everything to help. I wonder if this is because it is visible and therefore easier for him to understand?
The intensity of his behaviour waxes and wanes, it's worse in the winter (we seem to be at a peak right now, hence posting this).
While at times he can be lovely, obviously this all has an impact on the family. I have learnt to work around him, and sadly, DDs are learning the same skills. He is a good Dad to them, spends a lot of time with them etc, but I do find it sad that they have learn this so young. His own family seem to do the same. Challenging him when he is being controlling or unreasonable makes things worse, but he will often later acknowledge when he has not been nice, and sometimes apologise. But when he is at a low he can go for long periods without 'coming out of fog'.
I love him, and don't want to leave him. He has a lot of attractive qualities. He is very clean and tidy, both with personal appearance and round the house. He has also supported me a lot to progress in my career despite my illness and I couldn't have done this without him.
But sometimes I find it so tiring and feel really hard done to. It has affected my friendships, we don't really socialise as a family so while I'm in touch with friends we don't share family events and things (he doesn't really have friends and generally doesn't enjoy being around people except us).
I would really like to understand more about where all this comes from. Any ideas?
It's quite possibly to have a sensory processing issue without autism.
Some of the SPD stuff rings true but doesn't explain all of the behaviour.
I also meant to add that my doubts about him having a narcissistic personality disorder come from the fact that these seem to involve some sort of manipulation, whereas DH doesn't really seem even capable of manipulation (as this would involve a great understanding of how others may react to things).
Read [http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2268977-The-Abuser-Profiles The Abuser Profiles] from Lundy Bancroft's book, "Why Does He Do That" for possible answers.
(I'll try that again)
Read The Abuser Profiles from Lundy Bancroft's book, "Why Does He Do That" for possible answers.
That does sound to me far more like autistic traits (which you can have without autism) and a highly sensitive sensory profile. My husband and one of my sons are like this. They appear controlling because to them there is no other way than theirs, as opposed to being a manipulative arse that recognises that other people may have an opinion and then try to crush it.
Maxine Aston has written a lot about undiagnosed adults with autism tendencies, and I think it's Jean Ayres that's the sensory expert writer.
Fwiw people with an unusual sensory profile may seek some sensations (my son likes being wrapped up tight and squeezed!) and avoid others like the plague. The smell thing is a Big Deal. I ate a chicken tikka sandwich in the car and my husband identified it the next day. Weird.
Keeponrunning, thanks I have looked at that before, that was when he was being controlling about where I could go. I left him and put some clear boundaries in place before going back. He has other behaviour that could be interpreted as abusive but for me it's about intent.
And yes to the socialisation too. It's on his terms. And it's not just like he can't be arsed to mix, he finds it genuinely massively stressful. Unpredictability is hard for him to tolerate too so we have to have a clear plan of what is happening each day, and any deviation cannot be tolerated.
That said he's funny and sensitive and loyal, and in his job (IT, yeah, I know!) very successful.
Kitten, thanks for sharing that, I'll look up those authors. My dds don't appear to have the same traits. Yeah the smell thing is mad. I used to think he was making it up to have just another thing to moan about, but it's clearly true. He'd probably make a good 'smell detective'!
Yeah, that sounds very familiar kitten, apart from theme planning thing, he actually gets annoyed by plans, but I think that's to do with not being able to predict what he'll be able to cope with.
Or a wine buff!
Only one of my kids has similar traits, we just work around it. And you're right, intent is important. I remember reading somewhere that narcissists give deliberately shit presents, and it's a passive aggressive form of abuse. That year I got aftershave for my birthday, in a box that couldn't have been any more masculine if it had a cock on the front. But DH bought it because (and he's the logic) I had mentioned a Prada purse, and he went into the shop and asked for "something from Prada" and left with aftershave. But it said apres razage or something and they'd already wrapped it up etc.
He now has a little card in his wallet with all my sizes and preferred brands on, plus a reminder to find a female member of staff and say clearly "this is for my WIFE."
A good book is The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome by Tony Attwood. Explains all sorts of behaviours associated with ASD so you could see how many you recognise - also gives strategies for making life easier for all of you, though those are probably more for children or teenagers (e.g. help with homework) - principles are the same though.
I definitely think that your dh is more autistic that narcissistic. A narcissist is incapable of loving anyone other than themselves, they are compulsive liars and manipulative to the extreme.
The control is due to anxiety if he has Autism. My son is autistic and as a result I have read every book I can get my hands , change can be terrifying, the sensory issues are very real and can be incredibly painful. The thing with autism is that if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism. They are all different, it sounds very much like seeking a diagnosis would be beneficial to your family. Fwiw it sounds like your dh adores you, his panic and distress at seeing you unwell reminds me so much of my son and his reaction when I am unwell. (This is not a reaction you would receive from a narcissist. He would treat you like dirt because you are unwell which would be an inconvenience. Trust me I know my fair share of narcissists!)
There is a big differences between having no empathy and caring only for yourself and having no inner filter and not understanding someone else's perspective. I am willing to bet that your dh would be devastated if he hurt you unintentionally. If he was a narcissist he would take pleasure from finding new ways to hurt you.
I advise visiting the national autistic society, there is a great helpline that you can contact for advice. What I will say is that when you understand why your loved one is reacting/ behaving in a certain way, it makes it easier, easier to empathise, easier to discuss with them and easier to live with. Knowing his triggers will help your dh immensely, there are fantastic books out there that will be life changing for your marriage and for your daughters in their relationship with their Father.
My husband and son are both utterly literal too so I have discovered that it's important to be absolutely SPECIFIC if something important needs doing, plus explaining why, and leave no room at all for independent thought. (See aftershave)
Ha kitten! That's funny. Dh very rarely buys presents but he does they are spot on. He finds shopping very stressful, will only shop in Primark for clothes as they don't play music (well at least it's cheap!). Thanks for the book recommendation.
Keeping I read through the profiles again and no, they don't really ring true, though I can see why you thought they might.
Waaaahhhh!!! He needs to shop on the autism friendly nights! No music, reduced lighting etc! Or online! Mine will go to M&S in the last 15 mins before they shut and just grab what he needs. He will NEVER EVER try anything on.
There's plusses too though. He project managed our self build and was beyond meticulous about everything, meaning we came in under budget and she was of time. He was able to do so much of it in his head it was astonishing to see. He didn't miss a trick. In some ways he's really really talented.
I recognise almost everything you write.
The controlling, the narcissistic, etc.
The bit about making people cry, but not understanding why.
Yet not sensitive to fabrics.
Yet sympathetic to ill, when you can see it- more physical. Plus there are different kinds of empathy. One of the ASD threads had a very good link to the different kinds of empathy and how someone might look at you and say oh she's not autistic, she shows empathy to that person, but actually it's more complicated than that.
What do you want OP? How can we help you. I find support for ASD, (or whatever your dh has) is very limited.
You could get a diagnosis. But on a practical basis, dealing with it is just draining.
I fear that will never change. But is it that you actually really want your dh to acknowledge this and at least try to Learn? Is he really not, trying? Is that the core issue for you?
Mummy your lovely post brought tears to my eyes. Your son is lucky to have you. Yes he does adore me, everyone can see it, but it sometimes becomes suffocating.
Oblomov, I don't have any expectation that he will become self aware. It's more about understanding the root cause so I can cope better. It is incredibly draining and sometimes I lose perspective and forget to be patient and understanding. That only makes things worse for all of us.
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