RHONJ’s Dina Manzo – Functioning well

Welcome back to my blog about the psychological disorders of the Real Housewives. Once again it is presented with the important disclaimer that while I have a legitimate degree in psychology I am not a practicing mental health professional. These blogs are meant for entertainment purposes only, mostly mine to be frank. I will add that comments are welcomed, in fact they are often more entertaining than the blog, so please join in the discussion.

There have been requests for analysis of Dina and also requests for examples of mental health. Killing two birds with one stone I present the case of Dina Manzo, formerly of the Real Housewives Of New Jersey. Dina has her flaws but overall I find her to be functioning well. Goodness knows leaving this load of craziness is a huge sign of mental health at the very least.

Dina is quirky, she has an energist and a bald cat she talks to like a human. She can be a bitch behind the scenes when she is organizing a charity event and she confronts people when she really should not. Dina can be clique-y, judgemental and she can poke her nose into where it does not belong. Whether you like her or not, none of it adds up to a disorder, not even a mild one.

She is actively involved in charity endeavors and seems to lead a full business life as well. I have seen many positive interactions with her daughter, who she seems to carry on a healthy relationship with. We don’t see much at all with her husband so I cannot judge there.

In her exit blog on Bravo, Dina stated ” do hope you all understand why I HAD to go. No amount of money, attention, fame etc. is worth my happiness. I am finally at a point in my life that I can truly say I am happy. Like I’ve said before, my life isn’t perfect … what is perfect anyway? But when I put my head on my pillow every night and  thank God for all my blessings, my last thank you is always for the ability to cut out any negative and strive for true peace in my life.” I feel it stated a true awareness of herself, she knew what she needed to do to improve her life and she did it. That is healthy.

I do think that the Real Housewives show is designed to cause emotional turmoil. I also think that the show creates a high level of stress that can bring any underlying mental issue these women may have to the surface. The show is not a healthy environment for anyone really. Most of these women are focused on the fame and attention they are getting as well as the opportunities to make money from it. It can take a toll on them and their families that may not be worth it but often they lack the self-awareness to realize it. The fact that Dina did really says she has better sense than most.

So I am calling her flawed a bit (like all of us) but I do not feel she is suffering from a psychological disorder.

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/rhonjs-jacqueline-laurita-self-defeating-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/rhonjs-teresa-giudice-emotionally-unstable-personality-disorder-impulsive-type/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/rhonjs-danielle-staub-antisocial-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/rhonjs-caroline-manzo-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New Jersey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 59 Comments

RHONJ’s Caroline Manzo- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Once again I am delving into the psychological issues of the Real Housewives of Bravo television. Again I must preface my post with a disclaimer that while I have a legitimate psychology degree, I am not a mental health professional. My conclusions can only be based on what I see and reliable sources, such as direct interview, so take the information with a grain of salt. These posts are intended for entertainment purposes only, if you are not entertained I apologize.

Today I am examining the behavior of Caroline Manzo, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey on Bravo. It is easy to see that Caroline is devoted to her family, extremely devoted. It is also easy to see she has some serious control issues. She also seems to be judgmental, rigid and moralistic. Bear with me here but I see that she is a mother, the head of her family, that is her job and that is her obsession. I think she has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder that centers on that, her utter devotion to and control of her family.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is a pervasive character disturbance involving one’s generalized style and beliefs in the way one relates to themselves and the world. Persons with OCPD are typically deeply entrenched in their dysfunctional beliefs and genuinely see their way of functioning as the correct way. They tend to be deeply committed to their own beliefs and patterns, resistant to accepting anyone or anything that does not adhere to this rigidly held belief system. Most often, people with OCPD place blame for their unhappiness on external circumstances. people or their environment but with OCPD it is one’s dysfunctional philosophy which produces anxiety, anguish and frustration.

With Caroline, we see her with her family, always being the authority. Her way is the only way. Her children must pursue goals in her manner. Lauren must take certain beauty classes, Albie must continue with the law regardless of struggle, Christopher will be in the family business, somehow Caroline will make sure these events occur. Supportive? Yes. Also a bit controlling and overly involved in my opinion. These *children* are all in their twenties and still living at home, throwing ham and living their lives with their parents supervision and guidance. Whenever one of the *kids* deviates from the path that has been set out for them we see Caroline swoop in and play fixer. They are not allowed to fail or learn from their own mistakes, they are lectured and supported to smooth and bolster them to continue on the given path.

Although rarely observed by others, the experience of inner turmoil within this syndrome is immense. As much as others are often victimized by OCPD’s oppressive and demanding style, the high standards often apply two-fold within the OCPD sufferers’ expectations directed toward themselves. It is not uncommon for a person with OCPD to feel deeply entrenched in the belief that they are a *good person*. This belief can paradoxically often lead to feelings of depression and disappointment. The high standards which their idealized self is expected to live up to are often far beyond the capacity for any human being to consistently fulfill. Since ones humanness prevents an OCPD sufferer from living according his own high standards, a tremendous amount of self-hatred is imposed.

Within the OCPD population is a cognitive style characterized by dichotomous thinking. Dichotomous thinking is the tendency to categorize all aspects of life into one of two perspectives, all good or all bad. The world is viewed predominantly through clearly defined black and white realms. All that is pure and wholesome is valued. It can take only one stain or blemish to have the person completely find justification in discarding anything which evidences a flaw.

I think that is really the way Caroline is. She barely knew Danielle yet finding out she had a tainted past sent Caroline into a tizzy. Immediately she did not want anything to do with Danielle or for Danielle to have anything to do with her family, friends or intimate social circle. She did not give Danielle a chance to explain, judging her without hesitation. When Jacqueline continued to be friends with her, she railed that Danielle was causing a split in her family and that Jac was allowing Danielle to influence everything. To be frank, Caroline’s focus on Danielle is every bit as much to blame for that as Jac’s friendship with Danielle was. It is really out of line to tell other adults who they may or may not associate with. Caroline hammered and hammered away at the situation until she got her way.

For persons with OCPD, facts and confidence are all too often turned into I’m RIGHT and your WRONG. The way I see it represents the way it is, end of story. For others, refusing to yield to the correct perspective often entails encountering tension and discord. This manifestation of OCPD entails one’s adamantly guarding his dogmatic beliefs to such a degree that casual conversation often converts minor disagreements into heated debates. The relative importance of any topic rarely is of consequence in determining the degree of the intensity expressed in the midst of the debate. For the person who experiences OCPD, abstract ideals and moral standards become rigidly held truths.

Caroline is very rigid indeed. She never admits to any mistake in judgement or apologizes for any turmoil she causes those around her. I realize many of you may agree with Caroline and her assessments but whether she is right in her judgements or not is beside the point. The fact remains that she judges people harshly, they are either good or bad and nothing will change that view, she then bullies those in her circle to think exactly as she does.

She is blind to flaws within her family or friends, their bad behavior is always excused or justified. Ashley can assault Danielle and she is merely defending the family. Christopher can do a stripper car wash and he is an over eager go-getter, wink wink. Teresa can flip a table and pot stir fights and she is only a passionate woman or just being *Teresa*, giggle. Those bad behaviors are merely silly or justified. Point this out to her and if you push her, she will continue to defend their bad behavior. Even if she has to scream, cry and rage at you to do it, her friends and family are never wrong.

It would not be unusual for an OCPD sufferer to literally take delight in being wronged, since it affords them, what they perceive, as the justified opportunity to deliver a steep punishment. The term righteous indignation was probably conceived with this perspective in mind. Crossing a person with OCPD provides her the license to hold a grudge and forever hold your mistake over your head.

I feel with Danielle, Caroline takes joy in the conflict. She loves blaming everything on her. It gives her someone to make her look better in life. She is clearly superior to this *garbage* in her mind. I fail to see how anyone can see this play of righteousness as being healthy. She likes to play victim, to see her family as innocent and good and Danielle or any of her supporters as all bad.

In a conflict with someone who has OCPD, the non-OCPD person might be motivated to desperately seek closure. In the process of attempting conflict resolution, the non-OCPD might discover that every minute the quagmire becomes deeper and deeper. It is almost as if the mere effort to find resolution is a punishable offense. In a close relationship, encountering this zone of contempt is bewildering and frightening. All one wants to do is to bring this controversy to an end, and then, you are punished for not being willing to deal with the issue at hand. Within this zone, the person with OCPD feels a great need to bring about absolute clarity for the issue to be resolved. Once again this need for the perfect resolution creates a seemingly never ending tweaking of the issues. Agreeing to disagree is rarely a reasonable solution and often not in the scope of the OCPD’s world.

This really is Caroline. She will not let the Danielle thing go. As obsessed as Danielle is with the Manzos, Caroline and her crew are always talking about her. The healthy person would simply move on, refuse to engage. Caroline takes the more passive aggressive approach, pretending to be trying to move on but not really. She stews about it and she also contributes to other’s obsessions such as Teresa and Jacqueline. You can see the smirky glee at every report of Danielle, the I told you so attitude. She then of course says she did not want to talk about her but we all know if Caroline did not want Danielle discussed she would not be, Caroline always controls things.

OCPD sufferer feels that a lack of genuineness is wrong and being totally open, no matter what the consequence, is the only option. If others are offended by what I say, too bad for them. Moral righteousness and preaching morality as a dogmatic necessity is not an uncommon expression of OCPD. Both of these realms are steeped in the potential for the OCPD sufferer’s truth to override consideration and respect.

Caroline has no issues being blunt to the point of being hurtful. I think she broke Jacqueline down with this method. I also saw this in action by Caroline taking Danielle’s book around New Jersey, informing everyone that she knew about Danielle’s transgressions. Not necessary, she had no call to smear anyone whether it was true or not. What kind of person delights in trying to ruin another person’s reputation, particularly one with children who will be hurt by it? Regardless of Danielle’s past it was uncalled for and it was not Caroline’s business to broadcast Danielle’s issues to the world.

Overall I feel that Caroline is ruled by this moral indignation of her form of OCPD. I feel she is blind to the flaws of who she has already deemed as good and worthy individuals. I feel no matter what someone she has deemed as bad or outside of her circle does that they will remain bad and therefore, the enemy. I feel she controls her family and friends and that she always needs to get her way. I also feel she is unforgiving and inflexible to anyone who she feels is not one of *hers*. I feel that she systematically will try to get rid of anyone who might try to *contaminate* her perfect group, her family. The maintenance of this group’s goodness is her job and keeping them on the right path is her only responsibility.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control. This comes at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. It is present in a variety of contexts as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion
  • Is excessively devoted to work (in Caroline’s case, family) to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships
  • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values
  • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.
  • Shows rigidity and stubbornness

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/rhonjs-jacqueline-laurita-self-defeating-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/rhonjs-teresa-giudice-emotionally-unstable-personality-disorder-impulsive-type/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/rhonjs-danielle-staub-antisocial-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/rhonjs-dina-manzo-functioning-well/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New Jersey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 233 Comments

RHONJ’s Jacqueline Laurita : Self Defeating Personality Disorder

Once again I have returned to offer my observations on the behavior demonstrated by the Real Housewives on Bravo reality TV. I must point out as always that I while I possess a legitimate degree in psychology, I am not a licensed therapist. This blog is intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my entertainment to be honest.

Today I will be taking a look at Jacqueline Laurita, one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Jac is an in law of the Manzo women and at one point was Danielle Staub’s best friend. We have seen many changes in Jac over the past two seasons but her attraction to being the passive party in the center of the drama remains a constant. I feel she is a masochist suffering from self defeating personality disorder.

When the series premiered we saw Jacqueline regularly bending Danielle Staub’s ear about her unhappiness with her in-laws. I remember a scene in the bathroom where Jac is complaining about Dina’s treatment of her at a benefit. She seemed very overwhelmed by both of her sisters in law and yet continued to involve herself with them. She also continued to include Danielle in the group even though her sisters in law, particularly Dina, clearly did not like Danielle nor did they want her around.

As the first season progressed she remained friendly with Danielle even though it obviously was contributing her problems with her sisters in law and her husband. She continually sided with Danielle, even though it seemed as if Danielle was pressuring her and causing her distress. At the same time even though she clearly supported Danielle, Jac saw that the relationship caused a lot of the issues with her family members. She still got upset and was hurt when her sisters in law got mad about the friendship and confronted her about the problems it caused for them.

After the first season, Jacqueline moved on from Danielle, choosing to side with her family and Teresa Giudice. This was probably more comfortable for her yet we see a real lack of respect for Jacqueline from these women. They often talk to her condescendingly about her being weak with others. Jacqueline allows this attitude to continue and does not stand up for better treatment. In fact she defends this behavior publicly.

Jacqueline also allowed herself to be sucked into a cordial relationship with Kim G. I think Jac liked having someone outside the family to vetch to as well as a source for information on Danielle. Jac clearly seems to be drawn to the worst people over and over again and then confides in them freely, trusting far too soon. Viewers clearly saw that Kim G was two-faced but Jac did not. She begged an invite for Kim to Teresa’s party, knowing that Kim G loves to dish Danielle, then was slammed by Kim for being obsessed with Danielle. She created that opportunity by her over sharing info with Kim and then allowing her into a *family* event where Kim G promptly turned on her.

Jacqueline’s relationship with her daughter Ashley is another problematic relationship. Time and again we see Jacqueline try to act tough then allow her daughter to walk all over her yet again. Ashley is constantly disrespectful and behaves badly towards her mother. Jacqueline has received plenty of good advice about the situation and yet she feeds the problem instead of dealing with it consistently and effectively. She talks a big game about putting her foot down but we see that it is just talk at the end of the day. She continues to justify her daughters actions and allow the pain it causes her to continue.

I feel like Jac thrives on playing the victim. It is as if she cannot go a day without someone somewhere mistreating or disrespecting her. Even when she manages to get rid of one problematic person she acquires another. Every sign of progress towards happiness is followed by further entanglement in drama and engagement with those that hurt her. Surely there are people in Jersey who she could find to be with instead.

Self defeating personality disorder is marked by pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior or masochism. The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which she will suffer, and prevent others from helping her:

  • Chooses people and situations that lead to disappointment, failure, or mistreatment even when better options are clearly available
  • Rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help him or her
  • Following positive personal events, responds with depression, guilt, or a behavior that produces pain
  • Incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated
  • Rejects opportunities for pleasure, or is reluctant to acknowledge enjoying herself (despite having adequate social skills and the capacity for pleasure)
  • Fails to accomplish tasks crucial to her personal objectives despite demonstrated ability to do so
  • Is uninterested in or rejects people who consistently treat her well
  • Engages in excessive self-sacrifice that is unsolicited by the intended recipients of the sacrifice

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/rhonjs-teresa-giudice-emotionally-unstable-personality-disorder-impulsive-type/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/rhonjs-danielle-staub-antisocial-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/rhonjs-caroline-manzo-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/rhonjs-dina-manzo-functioning-well/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New Jersey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 98 Comments

Kelly Killoren Bensimon – Update – Schizoaffective Disorder

Welcome back to my blog about the psychological disorders displayed on the Real Housewives series featured on Bravo. Once again I do have a psych degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. These posts are intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my entertainment I will admit.

Thanks so much for the responses to the blog, many of which help me see other ideas and points of view. I do love any and all comments, feel free to disagree or point out flaws in logic respectfully. I am still open to anything.

I am returning to the subject of Kelly Killoren Bensimon today. Kelly is one of the women featured on Bravo’s Real Housewives Of New York City, also known as RHONY. I wrote my first post about Ms. Bensimon right after I watched the shows where she had an emotional breakdown while vacationing with the other RHONY wives. My thought at the time was that she was suffering from a case of paranoid personality disorder.

Since then I have observed Kelly more on TV and through her twitter posts. I have also been reading comments here on my blog and doing further research on my own. After much thought, I am reevaluating my prior judgement.

I still think what is wrong with Kelly is a form of paranoia but I believe it is schizoaffective disorder. I could not have said that for my first post because more observation was needed to justify that explanation, it could not be based on that one particular incident.

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental disorder characterized by recurring episodes of simultaneously elevated and depressed mood, that alternate with, or occur together with, distortions in perception. It most commonly affects cognition and emotion. Auditory hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction are typical.

People with schizoaffective disorder experience delusions which are acute manifestations of an active psychosis and are not personality traits; that is, they go away when the psychosis subsides. Manifestations of delusions include the individual being convinced that she is being monitored, watched or persecuted by something, when in reality she is not. Individuals may also feel extremely paranoid. People with schizoaffective disorder are likely to have additional conditions, this could include substance abuse.

During a vacation shown on Bravo, Kelly displayed a lot of her general feeling that everyone is out to get her. A varying times she refered to others as witches, mean and vile. She accused one castmate of “channeling the Devil” himself and another woman of having knives on her tongue and “literally trying to claw my eyes out”. She insisted that Bethenny Frankel tried to harm both her and her children with no proof. She talked of vivid dreams where one of the ladies tried to stab her, making a frantic stabbing motion herself as she retold the tale.

She at times self isolated and at others lashed out toward at least three of the women. Her ramblings were illogical, at times even unintelligible. Her anger was of an inappropriate level to the given situations as well. Her mood went from odd euphoria at times, to hostile verbal attacks, followed at least twice by crying jags. Whenever emotions were shown she grew more uncomfortable and agitated, even when the emotions were innocuous or not directed at her in any way. She read into every situation a threat against her personally.

She raged against anyone who was visibly feeling anything, claiming it was *so 1979*. I confess the amateur shrink in me wonders exactly what happened to Ms Bensimon during that particular year as it is an otherwise completely random choice. She told numerous people to zip it and otherwise shut their mouth, as she clearly could not handle conversation of any type. A true breakdown occurred and I doubt we saw even close to the worst of it.

I think Sonja Morgan may have saved more harm coming to anyone else during the vacation scenes. She calmly and rationally made everyone realize the powder keg was ready to blow. Do I think it could have escalated in something dangerous? Yes I really do. Luckily dispassionate calmness is indeed the best way to defuse this type of situation.

Since Kelly has returned from *Scary Island* she has done a PSA about systematic bullying, claiming she was a victim of it at the hands of the other housewives during their vacation. I think this is one of her persecutory delusions. I do not feel she was bullied at all but it is clear she honestly does. I do not think she is faking or trying to put a spin on the situation, in her reality this is the truth as she sees it, she honestly feels she was victimized.

Kelly has claimed she was forced to go on the vacation by Bravo, which everyone else refutes. Kelly also claims that the housewives are all acting, also denied by all the other participants. Her recollections of other incidents are filled with mistaken perceptions as well.

Kelly has admitted memory issues as well as difficulty paying attention. She has stated she *turns the volume down* on other housewives while they are talking then jumps into conversations she doesn’t fully understand. On the reunion show it was obvious that she is still suffering from delusions as well as thought disorders.

Her thought disorders manifest in phrases such as satchels of gold, odd references to Al Sharpton and “making lemons out of lemonade”. She speaks in contradictions and pieces of thoughts rather than in full rational statements. She cannot see that wearing fur is not supportive of PETA or why they would disapprove of it. Even Jill Zarin has said she cannot make sense out of most of Kelly’s tweets. Ms. Bensimon clearly does not have the ability to communicate effectively or with any real degree of sense during significant amounts of time.

At any rate I now feel that Kelly Killoren Bensimon is a true example of Schizoaffective Disorder but again, you must judge for yourselves.

In schizoaffective disorder, symptoms may include:

  • Delusions- These beliefs are not based in reality and usually involve misinterpretation of perception or experience.
  • Hallucinations- These usually involve seeing or hearing things that don’t exist, although hallucinations can be in any of the senses.
  • Thought disorder- Difficulty speaking and organizing thoughts may result in stopping speech mid sentence or putting together meaningless words, sometimes known as “word salad.”
  • Disorganized behavior- This may show in a number of ways, ranging from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation.

Negative symptoms which can include

  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Appearing to lack emotion
  • Reduced ability to plan or carry out activities
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of motivation
  • Problems with making sense of information
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Memory problems

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the Housewives of New York:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/rhonys-jill-zarin-the-classic-narcissist/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/rhonys-luann-de-lesseps-compensatory-narcissistic-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/rhonys-bethenny-frankel-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/rhonys-ramona-singer-cyclothymia/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 365 Comments

RHONY’s Ramona Singer – Cyclothymia (Cyclothymic Disorder)

I want to again thank everyone for visiting, reading and responding to these posts. I really appreciate each and every one of your contributions, I think they are what makes this blog so special. I am glad to see this blog is making other people think about the Real Housewives as well as the topic of psychology in a new way.

Once again, this blog is about examining the psychological disorders displayed by the Real Housewives in the various series featured on Bravo. I do have a legitimate psychology degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. These writings come with the disclaimer that they are intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my own entertainment to be frank. I can only analyze behavior I have witnessed on the Bravo series or from reliable sources (such as direct interviews with the participants or court documents). Read this with that in mind.

This time I will be taking a closer look at what makes Ramona Singer, the wild card of The Real Housewives Of New York, tick. I believe that Ramona is a prime example of cyclothymia. Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder in which a person has mood swings from mild or moderate depression to euphoria and excitement, but stays connected to reality. 

With cyclothymia, people experience periods when their mood noticeably fluctuates from their normal state. They may feel on top of the world for a time, followed by a low period when they feel somewhat blue. Between these highs and lows, they may feel stable and fine. Compared with bipolar disorder, the highs and lows of cyclothymia are much less extreme.

People with cyclothymia are almost always fully functioning, sometimes they are even hyper-productive. The unpredictable nature of the mood shifts may significantly disrupt their life because they never know how they’re going to feel — and they can’t just will themselves to live life on an even keel. It can also have an impact on those around them as they interact with the person.

We have all witnessed Ramona Singer’s mood swings while watching the Real Housewives. She can be flying high one minute and the next in tears. The first episode of this season had Ramona hosting an event on her boat, full of euphoric talk of her *renewal*. Shortly afterward there is an argument with her co-stars and Ramona is in tears, her party ruined, referring to how inappropriate and harsh the mean girls are. Cut to a few moments later and she is back to party mode. Even with editing this most likely took place during a very short period of time.

During her highs, Ramona often seems to be in her own world. She often honestly seems to not realize how her behavior affects others. She can be very aggressive in the way she interacts. Her speech becomes rapid as she communicates, ideas coming from all different directions.  She is easily agitated. You can witness people often trying to get a word in edgewise during a Ramona barrage. You can also see Ramona grow more and more insistent with others as she tries to overcorrect or justify what she has said or done. She says inappropriate things at the most inappropriate moments on a regular basis.

Ramona is often very blunt and direct. While I enjoy this about her it is not adored by all. She directs this unedited conversation at both friend and foe alike. I do not think her utterances are hostile, indeed I think she often just lacks an edit button. Afterwards she can be very apologetic and shows definite guilt for her behavior harming anyone’s feelings. She also is not always this way so I believe at some points she can control herself but during others she cannot. Prime example of this was when she told Bethenny on the Brooklyn Bridge that she would end up with no one. We have witnessed this behavior directed towards all the housewives at various times though.

While we witness periods of chaos, Ramona has maintained several businesses. She has RMS Fashions, True Faith Jewelry, Ramona Singer Jewelry and a skin care line called Tru Renewal. Ramona is very successful with these endeavors and seems to have another new business venture every season. I think if her illness were the more severe Bipolar that this would not be likely.

Signs and symptoms of hypomanic episodes of cyclothymia may include:

  • Unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria)
  • Extreme optimism
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive or hostile behavior
  • Being inconsiderate of others
  • Agitation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Tendency to be easily distracted
  • Inability to concentrate

Signs and symptoms of depressive episodes of cyclothymia may include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Appetite problems
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the Housewives of New York:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/kelly-killoren-bensimon-update-schizoaffective-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/rhonys-jill-zarin-the-classic-narcissist/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/rhonys-luann-de-lesseps-compensatory-narcissistic-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/rhonys-bethenny-frankel-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 109 Comments

RHONY’s Bethenny Frankel- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

I was blown away by the première of Bethenny’s Getting Married? Not because I thought it was fabulous entertainment. Rather it was because finally someone on a reality television show was owning their behavioral issues. Bethenny acknowledged that she needs professional help to deal with what has happened in her past. She recognizes that it may interfere in her current and future relationships if she cannot come to terms with it. Hallelujah.

I am thrilled to see someone take this step. It reduces unnecessary stigma that are commonly associated with psychological problems. Seeking treatment is a brave step on the road to mental health. I am proud to see Bethenny be so forthcoming and honest with herself. I wish her nothing but success.

I feel personally that Bethenny has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Bethenny is a classic overachiever. She is extremely ambitious, driven and perfectionistic. She is hard on herself personally, particularly in regards to her appearance and weight. She is detail oriented, liking the smallest detail to be perfect.

Her focus on her business and success has been to the exclusion of everyone in her life. Until recently she lacked many personal relationships at all. Her extreme independence and often rigid self-control are definitely in keeping with this disorder.

Bethenny employs numerous coping mechanisms in dealing with her emotions. She is very self depreciative and often sarcastic, usually in a clearly humorous manner. This type of humor is a classic response to feelings of low self-esteem that are at the heart of the obsessive compulsive personality disorder. This also allows her a way to control her emotions, spinning them into a more acceptable form for her psyche.

Bethenny has a difficult time ever shutting off the business side of herself. Even on vacation she takes control, cooking meals despite a team of chefs on hand to wait on her. Not only did she throw her own dinner party for the women, we also see her cooking in the morning for herself and possibly others. I do wonder if these activities were a way for her to regain a measure of control during what appeared to be a very out of control situation.

She promotes her business unrelentingly, driving around in a Skinnygirl car, giving gift bags emblazoned with the Skinnygirl logo, containing Skinnygirl swag. Yes this makes good business sense but it also demonstrates that she never turns the drive for success off. *Workaholics* are generally OCPD afflicted.

Bethenny admits that she has struggled in relationships. It is often hard for someone with such control issues to commit to a binding relationship such as a marriage. It can be very stressful. We see her conflicts with Jason come up when things have to be shared decisions. She wants things to be her way and has trouble when he asserts his will. He messes with the orderly way of life that she has established and she resists changes at every turn.

In Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, there is a list typical beliefs associated with each specific personality disorder. The beliefs and attitudes rationalize and reinforce the idealized image and the compulsive attachments and aversions. Here are the typical beliefs that they have listed for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:

  • I am fully responsible for myself and others.
  • I have to depend on myself to see that things get done.
  • Others tend to be too casual, often irresponsible, self-indulgent, or incompetent.
  • It is important to do a perfect job on everything.
  • I need order, systems, and rules in order to get the job done properly.
  • If I don’t have systems, everything will fall apart.
  • Any flaw or defect of performance may lead to a catastrophe.
  • It is necessary to stick to the highest standards at all times, or things will fall apart.
  • I need to be in complete control of my emotions.
  • People should do things my way.
  • If I don’t perform at the highest level, I will fail.
  • Flaws, defects, or mistakes are intolerable.
  • Details are extremely important.
  • My way of doing things is generally the best way

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the Housewives of New York:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/kelly-killoren-bensimon-update-schizoaffective-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/rhonys-jill-zarin-the-classic-narcissist/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/rhonys-luann-de-lesseps-compensatory-narcissistic-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/rhonys-ramona-singer-cyclothymia/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New York | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 147 Comments

RHONJ’s Teresa Giudice – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, Impulsive Type

This blog is about analyzing the personality disorders displayed by the Real Housewives on the various Bravo TV programs. Once again, I must issue the disclaimer that I do have a legitimate psychology degree but I am not a practicing psychologist. These blogs are intended for entertainment purposes only, mostly my entertainment I confess.

This post will be about Teresa Giudice, one of the women featured on The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. I have been pondering her issues for awhile now, trying to figure out exactly what might be leading to the behaviors we have observed on television and in recent interiews.

I observed definite impulse control issues but I was uncomfortable with the DSM’s Borderline Personality Disorder as a diagnosis. I just do not feel Teresa meets enough of the diagnostic criteria. Intermittent Explosive Disorder is something I considered but it does not cover all of the behaviors I have observed. I turned to the ICD-10, a diagnostic manual used by the World Health Organization. Voilà, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder – Impulsive Type. It is closely related to BPD but it has a different set of diagnostic criteria that I feel Teresa does meet.

Emotionally unstable personality disorder is a personality disorder in which there is a marked tendency to act impulsively without consideration of the consequences, together with affective instability. The ability to plan may be minimal, and outbursts of intense anger may often lead to violence or “behavioral explosions”. These occur with a disproportionate reaction to any provocation, real or perceived.

There are two variants of this personality disorder (impulsive and borderline), both share this general theme of impulsiveness and lack of self-control. I feel Teresa is definitely the impulsive type. The predominant characteristics of the impulsive type are emotional instability and lack of impulse control. Outbursts of violence or threatening behavior are common, particularly in response to criticism by others.

Teresa is a woman who has outbursts seemingly out of the blue. During last season’s finale of RHONJ, she famously flipped a table and lost utter control of herself during a dinner party. She even lost the ability to speak, shouting nonsense at Danielle Staub, ending up howling in a nearly primal fashion as her husband had to hold her back. Her completely out of proportion reaction seemed to be triggered when Danielle admonished her to “pay attention puh-lease” while they were discussing issues realted to a book about Ms . Staub’s past. Ms. Giudice stated right afterwards about her outburst “Don’t f@#%ing think I am airheaded stupid because that is what set me off”. She added later, “I can be mad one minute and then I will be fine”.

We have all witnessed time and time again that Teresa has a bit of problem with shopping. According to reports she and her husband have dealt with numerous financial difficulties yet we continue to see her spend outrageous sums on decorating, parties and clothing. Please note that these reports have been confirmed by Teresa Giudice herself in People magazine, where she states that bankruptcy will be a fresh start for her family. Teresa clearly has lived beyond her means, splurging on a variety of items with the attitude that money is no limit. This is also indicative of her lack of impulse control, she wants immediate gratification and does not consider the future consequences of her behavior.

Recently Teresa has attacked other housewives in the press. She called Sonja Morgan a “Crazy Old Whore” , “desperate” and a “bitch” in a mean-spirited blog about Sonja’s first appearance on the Real Housewives Of New York. This attack was from out of nowhere and the hostility was really uncalled for.

Teresa then attacked Bethenny Frankel, also of RHONJ, in a People magazine article saying, “She used to be a fun, regular girl, but after she got successful, she became a total bitch. I know she acts sweet to her fans on Twitter, but as an insider, I’m here to tell you, it’s an act. She is not sweet. She is calculating and cold.” She then said on her blog “Bethenny is not normal”.

Teresa went on to say the reason for her comments were because Bethenny said some mean things about her last year. The mean comments Teresa is referring to came from Bethenny’s blogs on the first season of the NJ Housewives, which Teresa provided links to. The comments by Bethenny mostly criticize Teresa’s impulsive behaviors seen on the show. There was also one which questioned Teresa’s intelligence, also based on her behavior seen on RHONJ.

The reason it stands out so much to me is because Bethenny was blogging for Bravo about RHONJ and her criticisms were based on what everyone was seeing on the show at the time. Her cuts were also directed at all the other ladies, they were not just aimed at Teresa. Teresa’s attack of Bethenny came from out of the blue and was about Bethenny’s personal life, not any behaviors witnessed by the public on the reality show this season. It is clear that Teresa feels more than justified to attack anyone, in any manner, who ever has criticized her. Even months later.

As I always say though, judge for yourselves.

To garner a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality, Impulsive Type at least three of the following must be present

  • Marked tendency to act unexpectedly and without consideration of the consequences
  • Marked tendency to quarrelsome behavior and to conflicts with others, especially when impulsive acts are thwarted or criticized
  • Liability to outbursts of anger or violence without ability to control the resulting behavioral explosions
  • Difficulty in maintaining any course of action that offers no immediate reward
  • Unstable and capricious mood

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey:

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/rhonjs-jacqueline-laurita-self-defeating-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/rhonjs-danielle-staub-antisocial-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/rhonjs-caroline-manzo-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder/

http://angelofdevs.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/rhonjs-dina-manzo-functioning-well/

Posted in Real Housewives Of New Jersey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 129 Comments