Challenged Hope

Grandmother Raising Mentally Disabled Grandchildren in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


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What is Black and White Thinking and Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

A short while ago, it was mentioned to me, by a professional who has years of experience working with mentally disabled children, that my youngest granddaughter thinks in Black and White.

When I first heard the term, I didn’t realize that Black and White Thinking was an actual personality disorder but, over the next few weeks, after hearing it mentioned several times, I began to wonder if I was missing the concept. Too embarrassed by my time lapse in deciding to ask what Black and White Thinking is, instead of asking the expert, I looked on the Internet for information, and to my surprise found Black and White Thinking describes my granddaughter to a T.

For example, according to various Internet websites, Black and White Thinking (sometimes called Splitting) is when a person sees things only in extremes – To my Granddaughter, if something isn’t perfect then it must be terrible, if she doesn’t feel brilliant then, in her mind, she must be stupid, if someone isn’t fascinating then she believes they are boring. If I discipline her, her belief that I love her then changes to I must hate her. If she thinks I’m not paying her enough attention then she will say I never show her any attention. To her, there are no grey areas. Wow! This so describes my granddaughter that I wonder why I haven’t heard the term before!

And not only is she a Black and White Thinker but I also discovered that Narcissistic Personality Disorder often goes hand in hand with Black and White Thinking and my granddaughter constantly exhibits narcissistic traits which include:

  • Believing you are superior to others
  • Craving power, success, and beauty
  • Being overly jealous, and convinced others are jealous of you
  • Coming across as single-minded, or unemotional
  • Expecting to be perfect in everything and setting unrealistic goals
  • Having fragile self-esteem and being easily hurt
  • Trouble forming or keeping relationships
  • Disregarding those you believe are inferior to you
  • Confused when others don’t always agree with your ideas or plans
  • Disregarding or failing to recognise others’ emotions
  • Craving constant admiration
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Exaggerating or lying about your achievements
  • Finding it almost impossible to be wrong
  • Believing you are special above others
  • Becoming angry when you don’t receive the attention you feel you deserve

Narcissistic personality disorder often exhibits the same features as someone who simply has a strong personality but is defined by the person’s need to be constantly on a pedestal far above anyone else or their feelings, whereas strong personalities are devoid of that character trait.

Now, the awful thing is, before I became aware of the terms Black and White Thinking and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I mentioned to three experts in the field of mentally disabled children that what I saw in the eyes and attitude of the young man, Luka Magnotta, who was recently charged with murdering and dismembering another young man, I also see in my youngest granddaughter. As you can imagine, my statement was met with total shock if not horror (I‘ve never heard a room go so quiet!), but since I’ve become aware of Black and White Thinking and Narcissism and how they relate to my granddaughter‘s mental health and behaviour, I’m unsure why my opinion was regarded as an over-exaggeration when I’m assuming they knew of the disorder and the kinds of consequences attached.

It should also be noted that several years ago, as I became increasingly aware of my two youngest grandchildren’s mental disabilities and severe behaviour disorders, and tried to voice my concerns over the seriousness of their behaviour to a mental health expert, she took notes but shrugged me off with – “I’ve seen worse!” – so to try to emphasize my concerns, I replied – “You hear about mentally unstable students going into schools on a shooting rampage and killing many innocent people for seemingly no reason. Well, as my two youngest grandchildren hit their teens and you hear on the news that either or both have entered a local school or similar community building, and opened fire, don’t come crying to me and complain I never spoke up about their mental health and problematic behaviour, because now you have it on record!”

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