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Is She Mentally Ill?

Question:

Relatively recently, I had a major argument with a once-close friend, and while I could initially tolerate it, as it has developed I have begun to suspect that there may be more to it, psychologically speaking, than her simply overreacting. She has always been promiscuous, and in the general opinion of all our mutual aquaintances, she is far too quick to engage in sex with relative strangers, each time looking for a meaningful relationship which she never finds. Her encounters with each new man (there have been at least 10 in the 3 years that I have known her) are predictable and invariable: it lasts a few weeks, during which she thinks he is perfect, then according to her side of the story (I have never met any of these men so I can’t know their versions), he will then terminate the relationship unexpectedly and unjustifiably, and she will experience excessively low moods, and alcoholic behaviour, for the next few weeks as she gradually and inefficiently recovers. I should probably mention that she and I were almost romantically involved (as a one-off we spent literally hours kissing) before she told me later that the incident had been purely experimental for her, and we would not be going any further at any point. I was very upset by this and temporarily developed a self-harming habit. Although this would seem irrelevant, since I’m discussing her and not myself, it is important since she became aware of it and felt that I was deliberately doing it to upset her and make her feel guilty. After that, I considered our score to be just about even, with her slightly on top since I had derived some satisfaction from upsetting her, but I remained “heartbroken” and now had suspicious scars on both arms which I must live with for the rest of my days. The current argument, which is my main cause for concern, began when she told me that she was intending to abstain from sex for the time being since she had met a new man who was a perfect gentleman and she didn’t want to rush things (you should see the dominoes getting ready to fall again). Since she had said this on previous occasions, I carelessly said that it never works, at which she became extremely angry with me. She accused me of being unsupportive, when in fact I was the only friend who had stayed by her when she spread a false story that she had been raped to gain some attention at school a couple of years ago, and that I should be happy for her rather than critical. She demanded an apology from me, which I refused, since I still felt that IF either of us owed the other an apology, it certainly wasn’t me, since I still feel that she behaved inappropriately when she kissed me (incidently there can be no doubt that she made the first move on that occasion). She called me arrogant, hurtful, and a number of other things which I honestly cannot deny, and said she wanted never to see me again or speak to me again (and she hasn’t since, except for one occasion some time later, when she sent me a message completely out of the blue just to reiterate the fact). I know I have been extremely excessive in the telling of the story, but the background is vital. My concluding point is: I feel this is beyond a social overreaction… isn’t it? Terminating your entire relationship with someone? Especially considering how close we once were (we shared things with one another that we both swore we would never tell anyone else). So, after much preamble, here is my question: Is she mentally ill? I already suspect that she may have Borderline personality disorder, but that wouldn’t explain all the behaviour that I think needs explaining. More specifically, I would like to ask: Is there an acknowledged condition which causes the individual to perceive themselves as the victim when they are in fact the one at fault?

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Answer:

What immediately strikes me about your E. Mail question is not its length as much as the way you leave yourself out with a very few exceptions. For example, you report that you started to harm yourself and that you were pleased because it made her feel guilty.

This self harming is an important point because the entire “relationship” or friendship has the characteristic flavor of something sado masochistic. Maybe I should state what I am trying to say more simply: Why have you remained in such an unhappy friendship for so long? The question really is not whether she is mentally ill or not (something that I have no way of knowing) but why you would hurt yourself and why you would “hang around her” for so long?

By the way, your defensive way of stating that she kissed you first does not stand up very well because, after all, you kissed her back and for a long time. Then, she insulted you by stating that she was experimenting. Still, you remained friends.

Remember the old saying: “With such friends, who needs enemies?” It fits this situation.

In my opinion, based on what you have described, you are better off looking for friends elsewhere. In addition, I would urge you to enter psychotherapy in order to explore this example of self hurting as well as why you remained so preoccupied with thinking about her. Sorry if you are not preoccupied but, I will say that it seems like that.

There are happier friends and relationships out there. Look for them, leave this behind and go into therapy to find out why you stayed around for so long.

Best of Luck

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