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Mark Goulston, M.D. Headshot

The Mel Gibson Among Us

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Hell hath no fury as a relationship between a narcissistic man and a borderline woman.

My colleagues and many of you would deem it inappropriate for me to imply that Mel Gibson and his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, or for that matter John and Elizabeth Edwards (as the book Game Change would have us believe) are dyed in the wool narcissistic and borderline personalities if I have not met and evaluated them (and then of course I wouldn't tell you), but the title of this blog probably got your attention.

And I am not saying that either Gibson, his ex-girlfriend or John and Elizabeth Edwards do in fact have these personalities. But from what any of us read and hear in the media (which has its own opportunistic personality), we might view them in that light.

Perhaps a better view of this relationship made in hell that is in the public domain and was captured best in the iconic movie, "The War of the Roses," which starred Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.



What it comes down to is that one thing that narcissistic and borderline personalities have in common is that they are both capable of a rage that is chilling to behold and terrorizing when it is aimed at you.

The rage however is triggered in different ways in each of these personality disorders. For the narcissistic male it is triggered when their partner refuses to feed into and psychologically conform to their grandiose, entitled core. For the borderline female the rage is triggered when their partner attempts to control or abandon them.

Another thing that both personalities have in common is that they are both primitive and immature. By that I mean that the measure of how evolved and mature you are is how deeply you can feel disappointed, angry, frustrated and/or hurt without striking out at the person doing it to you or to yourself in self-destructive behavior. In other words, the more you can feel and "take the hit" from life, without hitting back, the more grown up you are.

What is the takeaway from this for the Mel Gibson's, Oksana Grigorieva's, John and Elizabeth Edwards' among you? Marriage is for grown ups not for children. And the good news? It's never too late to grow up.

Addendum: One of my clinical focuses is "Recoupling Therapy" working with couples who are separated or living separately (as in one in a hotel and the other in the family home) who want to give their marriage one last chance before they call it quits. In fact, I won't see couples who are not in that situation. That is because as long as you are still reactively, immaturely and hatefully living in the same house, that situation alone can bring out the narcissistic and borderline tendencies that lay within people who are not those personalities through and through. But when you have reached the point of sleeping in separate addresses, the possibility arises with that "time out" (which is what we do with immature acting out kids) of each person realizing that there is more to life and love than having to be right and get your way all the time.

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