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Kathy Marshack News

Diagnosing Asperger’s – Is It also Pathological Avoidance Disorder, Narcissism or OCD?

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Those with Aspergers may also be diagnosed with Narcissism, Pathological Avoidance Disorder and OCD, yet it’s wise to focus on treating the Empathy DisorderAs we seek to understand our friends and family who have Asperger’s Syndrome (a high-functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder), we discover a myriad of potential diagnoses that could fit, such as Narcissism, Pathological Avoidance Disorder and OCD. But before you wander down the Rabbit Hole with these variations on the theme of Autism Spectrum Disorders, it’s important to pay attention to the underlying problem for all of these disorders. . . namely an Empathy Disorder.

People who lack empathy are unable to step outside of themselves. They can’t tune in to what other people are feeling, thinking or believing. This self-centeredness often results in personal conflict, communication breakdown, and an adversarial attitude.

Research shows that empathy is "hard-wired" through a variety of neural pathways, some of which have mirror neurons. Regions of the brain actually light up in when you become aware of another person's emotions. Literally, you do feel what she’s feeling.

In the normal course of events, a person can lose his (or her) ability to be empathetic by becoming too self-absorbed, or he can increase his ability to be empathetic by retraining his brain.

However, the brains of people with ASD don’t function in the same manner. They can, however, develop other ways to navigate the world of personal growth and social interaction. Interestingly, research shows that when we find ways to manage our anxieties, we actually reduce our narcissistic and OCD behaviors. So too with Aspies.

If you’re a member of the Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD, please join our free international teleconference on Thursday, November 17th, 2016 at 1:30 PM. We’ll discuss “Is it Pathological Avoidance Disorder, Narcissism or OCD?” In this teleconference, we will discuss the challenges to empathy-disordered individuals. Regardless of their diagnosis, or the way they choose to adapt to their anxiety and empathy disorder, we want to speak to the underlying empathy issue, not just the symptom.

And if you’ve been putting off getting a copy of Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) because you thought it was just about parenting, don’t wait another moment. It also explores the science behind Asperger’s. It will help you understand your Aspie better. Get a free chapter by clicking on the image below.

Is it Persuasion or Manipulation? How to Tell the Difference

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


Is it Persuasion or s it Manipulation – How to Tell the DifferenceWhen we watch a movie or a TV show we want to be manipulated. We want the script to make us feel like we’re involved, feeling the joy, sadness or thrill. It’s a great escape. Maybe you secretly admire the con artist. Perhaps you harbor just a little desire to get something for nothing just as the con does? Don't you wish you could be so clever?

The truth is that the con knows that you’re not so different from him or her. The only real difference is that you’ve created an illusion that you’re different, that you would never stoop to manipulation, and that you would never willfully take advantage of another person. Because you’re not so different, but are in denial about it, the con swoops in and relieves you of your money, your pride or your sense of safety.

None of us like to be manipulated to do things that aren’t in harmony with our values, desires or plans. Yet, it’s easy to become guilty of snowing the ones you love to get our own way. However, it creates incredible suffering not just in the short run but potentially for generations.

As difficult as it is to admit that we can be conned, it is even more difficult to admit that we can do the conning. However, the mark and the con are two sides of the same coin.

To investigate your manipulative qualities, ask yourself a few questions…

1. Are you in sales?
2. Does your business require that you use persuasion, diplomacy, and charm?
3. Have you ever lied?
4. Have you ever taken advantage of another's ignorance or naiveté?
5. Have you kept something you didn't pay for?
6. Have you ever cried in order to get your way?
7. Have you ever intimidated your opponent into capitulating?
8. Have you ever hurt someone else?
9. When you have hurt someone else, did you say, "I didn't mean to do it."
10. Have you kept a secret to avoid conflict?
11. Have you ever "dropped names"?
12. Have you ever changed the subject when the topic was too close for comfort?
13. Just once, was money your only concern?

The tools of persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used ethically or unethically. They are like a hammer and screwdriver. The hammer and screwdriver can be used to build a house or to break into someone's home. The choice is up to the individual using the tools. Likewise, persuasion, diplomacy and charm can be used to swindle or to negotiate a mutually rewarding settlement.

Being conscious of your own manipulations allows you to be ethical. With consciousness comes choice. Choosing to be ethical in your communications and dealings with others requires that you take the time to understand others and to be understood fully. There is no room for conning. The risk of destroying trust is too great.

This topic of manipulation is a hot issues for family businesses. If you're in a family business and are concerned about the repercussions of manipulation schedule a Remote Education session with me to dig deeper.

Does Your Aspie Also Suffer from a Personality Disorder?

Monday, March 07, 2016


Those with Asperger’s Syndrom may also be suffering from Schizotypal Personality Disorder or other personality disorders that require additional treatment. A personality disorder occurs when a person has rigid, unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. They have trouble relating in social situations. Whereas, those with Asperger’s want to have friendships, those with some personality disorders don’t care. They’re more comfortable with their loner status.

What are some of the personality disorders that may be misdiagnosed as Asperger’s or may be present along with Asperger’s?


Previously we’ve discussed how someone with Asperger’s Syndrome may also have ADHD and/or Narcissism. Another personality disorder that many are not aware of is Schizotypal Personality Disorder. (This is not the same as Schizoid Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia, although it can be mistaken for schizophrenia at times).

Schizotypals look a lot like they have ASD in that they have extreme levels of anxiety, often learn to mimic appropriate social behavior, have a number of low grade health issues, and are extremely sensitive to criticism. They also tend to be loners because they misread people and develop suspiciousness because they can't properly read the motivations of others.

Here are 10 symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder as listed by the Mayo Clinic:

  1. "Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
  2. Incorrect interpretation of events, feeling that they have personal meaning
  3. Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  4. Dressing in peculiar ways
  5. Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  6. Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  7. Persistent and excessive social anxiety
  8. Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  9. Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
  10. Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses"

Because Personality Disorders cause a person to lack empathy, similarly to our Aspies, we just think the thoughtlessness or negativity is an Aspie trait. While it’s difficult enough to find appropriate treatment for Aspies, it's nearly impossible to treat Personality Disorders because they think they’re normal and are not motivated to make changes.


If you suspect that your Aspie also suffers from a Personality Disorder, then be sure to sign up for our next Video Conference entitled: Is it just Asperger's or is it something else too? on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 8:00 AM or Thursday, Mar 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM We’ll be specifically discussing Schizotypal Personality Disorder.



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