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The Limits of Evo Psych (Plus Two Good Relationship Articles)

[By the way, just because there’s a new post up, don’t forget to go back to this post and help me out with my request. I need your help. – T.]

I was getting bored with the old themes of the blog, and I didn’t want to just repeat myself or preach to the choir, so for 2011 a major theme is going to be toxic, personality-disordered people, particularly what are called Cluster B personality disorders:

Cluster B (dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders)

People say that we currently have a narcissism epidemic on the rise in America, and I think they’re partially right, but ultimately they’re thinking too small. I think what we actually have is a Cluster B epidemic. Which means that these traits are becoming more and more evident in everyday people, rather than conditions that afflict only a small amount of the population. This is especially true in the modern, developed world, with all its increased self-obsession. Narcissism currently is getting all the press, but it has a lot of overlap with the other disorders and I predict we’ll soon be hearing about them too in the media.

There are other disorders listed by Wikipedia, but I don’t want to focus on them excessively because in essence I think they tend to be side-effects of Cluster B disorders. They are compensatory actions that arise from how the person chooses to deal with their Cluster B disorder. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of them, so I’m including them here anyway.

Cluster C (anxious or fearful disorders)

Appendix B: Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study

Appendix B contains the following disorders. They are still widely considered amongst psychiatrists as being valid disorders, for example by Theodore Millon.


The following disorders are still considered to be valid disorders by Millon. They were in DSM-III-R but were deleted from DSM-IV. Both appeared in an appendix entitled “Proposed diagnostic categories needing further study”, and so did not have any concrete diagnostic criteria.

A big reason I’m switching to this theme is because I realize in pop psychology and mainstream science there is an excessive fixation on evolutionary psychology developing. Now I realize hearing this coming from me is extra ironic given how much I talk about evolution on this blog.

The problem is that while evolutionary psychology is an indispensable tool for understanding the world we live in, you must understand its limitations, or you’ll end up getting burned in the long run. There are two primary goals in evolution: to maximize survival and to reproduce. If members of a species survive and reproduce, than by evolutionary standards those members are successful. But when you think about it, that’s actually a very low bar to set.

You can survive and reproduce but still have horrible relationships. You can survive and reproduce and be miserable and unfulfilled and frustrated the whole time. You can survive and reproduce yet feel totally lonely. You can survive and reproduce and utterly hate your life and yourself down to the core.

Evolutionary success, i.e. survival and reproduction, are only the tip of the iceberg to fulfillment. You need a lot more in your toolbox beyond that, like healthy, non-toxic self-love, social interest (in the Adlerian sense, something I’ll discuss in a later post), empathy, psychoanalysis and other forms of psychology, philosophy, spirituality, street smarts, common sense and more. Evolutionary psychology just helps us draw the big picture. The rest helps us color inside the lines to our liking. Improving your life strictly through evolutionary psychology is a major start, but you ultimately need more for a fulfilled life.

Relationships, whether with family members, friends or lovers, involving people suffering from cluster B disorders are truly traumatizing, and like fighting in a combat zone or being hazed into an organization, it’s a trauma you can never truly grasp unless you’ve gone through it firsthand. Intellectually you may be able to grasp how damaging they are, but you never really understand how soul-crushing they can potentially be until you undergo it firsthand, which is why I think recognizing and avoiding the people who suffer from cluster B in less obvious ways is so important.

I once fell for a woman who had all four cluster B disorders, truly the most personality disordered yet initially normal-seeming person I’ve ever met, and it was the most valuable learning experience of my life. She had no respect for others’ boundaries, zero empathy (although she mastered parroting empathetic language from self-help books pretty well),  seemed to go through life leaving everyone who crossed her path worse off than she found them, yet somehow convinced herself she was always a victim.

With distance and perspective I came to see her craziness very clearly, but I was totally taken in at first. However I went from finding the experience a waste of time to viewing it as incredibly valuable one I was glad I went through, because I got such a crash course in crazy and toxic all at once, for relatively cheap. Some dudes only realize what they’ve signed up for way too late, when they’re way too deeper in the mess to get out easily (like after marriage, kids or a false sexual harassment or rape charge).

The biggest problem isn’t the people who are blatant messes like Sammi from Jersey Shore but the psychos adept at wearing masks and aping the language of empathy and sanity.

Anyway, here are two good articles I found worth sharing that touch on much of this.

The first article is titled “Why You’re Not Married.” This one is an article by an North American woman that I think all progressive North American women need to read. The first two on the list are my favorites:

1. You’re a Bitch.
Here’s what I mean by bitch. I mean you’re angry. You probably don’t think you’re angry. You think you’re super smart, or if you’ve been to a lot of therapy, that you’re setting boundaries. But the truth is you’re pissed. At your mom. At the military-industrial complex. At Sarah Palin. And it’s scaring men off.

The deal is: most men just want to marry someone who is nice to them. I am the mother of a 13-year-old boy, which is like living with the single-cell protozoa version of a husband. Here’s what my son wants out of life: macaroni and cheese, a video game, and Kim Kardashian. Have you ever seen Kim Kardashian angry? I didn’t think so. You’ve seen Kim Kardashian smile, wiggle, and make a sex tape. Female anger terrifies men. I know it seems unfair that you have to work around a man’s fear and insecurity in order to get married — but actually, it’s perfect, since working around a man’s fear and insecurity is big part of what you’ll be doing as a wife.

2. You’re Shallow.
When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man’s character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you’re not married, I already know it isn’t. Because if you were looking for a man of character, you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.

Instead, you are looking for someone tall. Or rich. Or someone who knows what an Eames chair is. Unfortunately, this is not the thinking of a wife. This is the thinking of a teenaged girl. And men of character do not want to marry teenaged girls. Because teenage girls are never happy. And they never feel like cooking, either.

The rest of the items from the list are:
3. You’re a Slut.
4. You’re a Liar.
5. You’re Selfish.
6. You’re Not Good Enough.

It’s already gone viral.

The other article is “Is Your Girlfriend or Wife A Professional Victim?” from a great site called Shrink 4 Men, run by a female therapist and totally geared toward helping men prevent and recover from relationships with personality-disordered women.

The list provided by the article:

1) She never acknowledges when she hurts others.
2) The victim must be victimized. If you’re not an abusive person, she’ll pull it out of you in order to play the victim script she has in her head.
3) She blames others and circumstances for her own shortcomings or failures.
4) She admires and respects people who actually treat her badly.

Best excerpt:


It’s impossible to have a loving relationship of equals with a professional victim. She goes through life feeling slighted and angry, never taking responsibility for her actions or life. Good luck trying to talk to her about this. You’ll meet with extreme defensiveness and more blaming behaviors. Her only identity is that of victim: If she doesn’t believe she’s being victimized, then who is she? Someone who treats other people like crap and who is pissing her life away. It’s a matter of psychological self-preservation versus ego annihilation.

You can’t have a healthy and happy relationship with someone who holds you hostage and controls you through guilt, emotional blackmail, and blame. This type of person rarely changes and usually has characteristics of one of the dramatic cluster B personality disorders, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder or some variation.

If you’re involved with one of these women, I encourage you to reconsider the relationship. When I come across them in life, I try to avoid them altogether or, at the very least, minimize contact. It’s really the only way to deal with them.

I know plenty of people think these issues don’t matter to them because they haven’t (knowingly) encountered them yet, but remember what I said in the past about the need to learn an important thing before the moment of truth when you actually need to know it.

Recommended Reading:

  • I firmly believe gossip can be very educational, depending on how you use it. If  you want to see a Cluster B personality at work, check out the recent drama with Hally Berry, as seen here and as seen here.

25 Responses to “The Limits of Evo Psych (Plus Two Good Relationship Articles)”

  1. Aye, nature only cares about life, not quality of life.

    One can see a clear understanding of this reality especially in the myths, folklore and worldview of the pre-Christian Germanic/Scandinavian world (i.e. Norse mythology,etc.) Throughout the myths, there is always a subtext that nature is a capricious and dangerous realm for men, suitable only for beasts, giants, trolls, and other questionable beings. The only bulwark against such chaos is the drive of men to order their world through law and civilization in emulation of the ordering of the world by the gods

    Such things as the creation of the weregild/lawsuit system in response to the devastating effects of honor killings born of family feuds, as well as marriage to circumvent the polygamous nature of men and the hypergamous nature of women.

    It never ceases to surprise me what one can learn about reality and human nature from the myths of various cultures.

  2. I’m surprised to see the lack of reference to The Last Psychiatrist! Anyway, great to see you broaden the range subjects you write about even more, the development of your blog since 2011 has been superb.

  3. Thanks Nikolas, glad you like the new direction. I linked to the Last Psychiatrist in my Amy Chua post, and I have another post coming where I’m going to link to him again, so I left him out of this one. But he’s definitely a great source on narcissism.

  4. Halle Berry is a piece of work. She obviously is able to function on certain level or she wouldn’t be a major Hollywood actress. A lot like the girl you dated for a while. But those kind are more dangerous than the obviously crazy.

    I recently had a run in with a a girl with a girl with some issues. Not Cluster B kind of stuff, but bad enough. It is an instructive experience.

  5. Re: Halle Berry – Fame is probably the worst thing that can happen to a Cluster B-er. When people reach a certain level of success, the main people in their lives are sycophants who have a personal stake in the Cluster B-er’s success and will therefore tell the CB-er whatever he or she wants to hear and will go out of their way to make the CB-er happy. It can create a very unhappy, vicious circle and the Cluster B-er just becomes more and more detached from reality.

  6. Fabulous, timely post. You are blowing the other Game bloggers out of the water.

  7. Great topic. A working understanding of the cluster-B personality disorders should be required reading material for… well, everyone really.

    Most cluster B disorders basically boil down to an adult acting like a child. There’s a good reason for this; trauma in childhood seems to have the effect of halting emotional development, leaving a person who may be intellectually an adult but emotionally still operates on the level of a child.

    The thing to be wary of is that childish behaviour is very common, especially in western women, and doesn’t necessarily mean that someone’s toxic or that they have a genuine cluster-B personality disorder. Take the symptoms of HPD; it might as well be called “annoying teenage girl disease”. Many young women will act exactly like that, stomping all over any guy that lets them, but will raise their game if you set and enforce clear, healthy boundaries. It’s only the ones that are unable to do so that have a genuine disorder.

  8. Most cluster B disorders basically boil down to an adult acting like a child. There’s a good reason for this; trauma in childhood seems to have the effect of halting emotional development, leaving a person who may be intellectually an adult but emotionally still operates on the level of a child.

    This is all very true, but I think people assume abuse far too much often when looking at causes of Cluster B types, which in turn causes us to be more sympathetic than we should be and end up getting burned. A sad truth is that while yes, many Cluster Bs are the way they are through abuses, a whole lot of them are the way they are because they were spoiled and pampered and constantly shielded from the consequences of their actions into adulthood. For women this problem gets compounded if they grow up hot.

    This is a good link describing the effects of both trauma AND pampering. When reading it, you can see how either one can lead to Cluster B tendencies:

  9. I am curious to know how much, if any, of your choice to focus on psychology instead of remaining to dwell on the evolution and natural selection has to do with the whole race realist crowd? Most of those guys make it quite obvious to me that they have less interest in coming to an honest and accurate assessment of the real world and more interest in playing racial status games.

    Also, it is interesting the degree to which some people focus so much on evolution psychology with only the most rudimentary understanding of psychology. Trying to explain the world simply by saying, “it’s natural selection,” is a little like trying to explain a plane crash by saying, “it’s gravity.”

  10. jr, my next post is technically not about that crowd, but will totally explain them to you.

    they have nothing to do with my decision to focus more on psychology than evolution. i just want to diversify the toolbox and encourage readers to do the same. i feel using one tool becomes too limiting, kind of like the saying “if your only tool is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts looking like a nail.”

  11. Also, for those who are wondering, “race realism” refers to a group of bloggers and commenters who focus on the correlation between race and IQ.

  12. Good call on the Shrink4men links. She has an excellent site, I’ve been reading there on and off for about a year and have learned much about the mechanics of some personality disorders. Specifically, how to parse the verbiage and behavior of these folks.

  13. Wow. Thank you for the link. I’ve been trying to help my Sister out with the problems she’s been having in her life. Reading the “Is Your Girlfriend or Wife A Professional Victim?” article was… strange.

    It’s strange how someone can be described without having met them.

  14. Hey Erik, I’m just curious. If you’re still reading, is your sister the oldest or the baby? And how was she raised? Did your parents pamper her or where they domineering strict with her or combination of both?

  15. She was the youngest. Father was a closet alchoholic and left us alone. Mother was distant.

    Besides food and shelter, we didn’t get much from the parents.

  16. Just stumbled upon your site, you’ve got some good stuff here man.

    You’re absolutely correct about a cluster b epidemic on the rise. As someone very involved with the young girls who are coming up, all I can say is a lot of these girls have developed non-trivial amounts of the histrionic and narcissistic disorders. I would wager it is more prevalent than ever before. I blame it on reality TV and social media.

  17. Kid W/Golden Arms on February 27th, 2011 at 8:17 PM


    Do you think alot of these individuals hide their tendencies behind ideologies that call for a new “normal” such as gender (man hatin/woman always the victim) feminism, various extreme political beliefs of both the left and right,etc?

  18. Great one, Ricky!

    You can find articles on the limitations of evolutionary psychology – from the is/ought perspective – in a number of places: NONE of which are remotely connected to relationships and sexual success.

    The late Carl Sagan, in an interview with Ted Turner (it’s on youtube) said to the effect that both our social and sexual psychological evolutions has not kept pace with our technological development. The very ways in which we make a living our different from the Stone Age – yet, we’re the same old human beings. What I extract from that: what was advantageous for survival (and hence sexual attraction) thirty thousand years ago is irrelevant for survival in the modern world at best, out counterproductive at worst. So, from a strictly logical perspective, the ones we most desire as mates in so-called “post-Scarcity” societies OUGHT to be those who can provide us with an ADEQUATE standard of living AND emotional/mental compatibility AND be civilized human people: End Of Story (or close to it). YET, we’re still trapped in the same physical and “social dominance” appeals that dominated the sexual psychology of our different ancestors.

    Steven Hawking also had a thing or two to say about human nature, in “Last Days on Earth”. Aggression had definite survival advantages, but given our technology growth the very things necessary for survival on the African Savannas are the very things that can destroy us all, unless we learn to control our instincts. (I’m sure you can see how this relates to women’s attraction to socially dominant men…and men’s admiration and often mindless respect for the same).

    BUT, again, back to Sagan – the good news is that we’re pretty good at figuring things out. That’s what let us dominate the planet despite being physically weak, physically slow, and poor sensing compared to most other animals even remotely close to our size.

    I extract from this that we do have a will power to overrule our biological instincts to a degree. It likely won’t affect who we’re attracted to, unless we start having our first children AFTER 30 yrs old (when most of us place more emphasis on character and emotional security, rather than on strength, beauty, and high degrees of wealth). I wonder how that’ll affect the future of our sexual psychology in 10,000 or so years.

    NOTE: If Transhumanist-type genetic and/or neurological engineering even delivers TEN percent of what it’s loudest promoters claim, then all bets are off – for if you control the genes and/or brain, then you can make a person sexually attracted to whatever kind of person you want them to be (Sorry for the sci-fi tangent, but I want to be sure to cover all the bases).

  19. Problems with evo-psych: ( popular and academic )

    - vulnerable to confirmation bias and “just so” explanations.
    - impossible to verify through experiment
    - human evolution still poorly understood.
    - statistical performance of random genetic variations over many generations through environmental alterations is *extremely* complex.

    A lot of current evo-psych is projection, hand-waving and wishful thinking, IMHO.

    But it is there, it’s real, it happened and is still happening. Human evolution, that is, including our minds.

  20. I would agree that not only is there a Cluster-B epidemic happening today but a complete fracture of logic & rational thinking. The media is “normalizing” severe mental health issues.

    The TV reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” presents an entirely dysfunctional scenario:

    Bruce Jenner – Well you may have been a jock 30 years ago, but man, your face shows one too many visits to the plastic surgeon. I would also now dissuade people from feeding their male children “Wheaties” as that cereal obviously causes testicular atrophy. Wimp.

    Kris Jenner – Weekly this woman.. Puts down her husband on national TV, repeatedly lies to her husband on national TV, interferes with her adult children’s lives on national TV (boundaries?).. AND THINKS SHE IS JUST GREAT, AN EXAMPLE?

    All of the Girls, Now very much adults – Brats, Bitches, whatever you want to call them. All with incomplete individualization issues with Kris.

    I change channels because this show makes me nauseated. They present this crap as normal behavior!

    Jersey Shore.. Infantile, hyper-sexual(the fancy term for slut), borderline psychotic personality disordered adult little-girls. The problem here is that other girls (my daughter’s high school peers) are emulating this behavior.

    Kate Plus 8 – The show follows Kate Gosselin through the challenges and joys of raising eight children alone as a “single mom”. What absolute BS. Rewind the tapes to the old show & note that – per episode moneys & their living conditions were always high end, this woman was verbally abusive to her husband & continues to be abusive towards the children. She initiated divorce, she created further problems for the children. What entitles her to still be televised claiming any victimhood. Even with 8 kids, should all of our lives be so tough (extreme sarcasm).

    Of course that is DRAMA, lets look at documentaries..

    Hoarders & Hoarding: Buried Alive present the co-morbid OCD secondary behaviors as somehow primary. The psychologists gloss over ADHD/BP/BPD issues & symptoms. This show brings complete revulsion to me but I watch it & explain the real psychiatric conditions & situation to light. Many of these poor me divorced “victims” are actually ABUSING every one around them including doing irreparable harm to children. The “clutter” is secondary, call these people on what they are actually doing.

    I could go on & on. That is what I meant about the media is “normalizing” severe mental health issues. The abuser-victim sequence is being distorted by narcissists basking in their own “victimhood”..

    - Kris Jenner & her daughters meet all of the criteria for BPD & may be BP.
    - Jersey Shore Guidettes meet all of the criteria for BPD & likely are BP.
    - Kate Gosselin meet all of the criteria for BPD & may be BP. She is a bad mother in my judgement.
    - OCDed divorced women covering their children & pets in their own excrement & clutter want understanding & sympathy? Call it for what it is.. ABUSE.

    Causality & accountability are destroyed by feminist logic (or a least this Cluster-B thinking). It is not just the media, it is in the courts, schools, everywhere. Stating objective facts has become “offensive”, political correctness & feelings rule.

    Is it any wonder the state of everything these days? Totally jaded & old at 50?

  21. Hey Ricky, this really sounded like my story too :)
    The point is that i can identify so much with you in a lot of stuff that you wrote here.
    I have been in a devastating “relationship” with a person, i suspected had biiiiig issues. But i wanted to help (fool), because I also have some issues from childhood. i always though it was me, i was crazy i am the one “bad”. Of course there is not “a bad” person but when you cannot talk as two adults hoping to find a peace, resolution of a problem and happiness, and instead you have been blamed, rejected feeling guilty, self-esteem crushed. It raises some questions. I went to the therapy, read hundreds of books, and exactly as you said only after distancing myself i have been succesfull in figuring out what the hell happened here and what the hell happened to me (i was a shadow at that time)
    I am pretty sure now that she is Borderline/narcisstic or even antisocial or all of that. I will probably match a lot of situations that you have experienced, but right now in a process of healing, finding myself and putting myself together i want to point out how true are your word of “how valuable this experience was”.
    Not only i understood myself better, but the people with disorders too. advice : trying to understand and help or be in a relationship with a borderline will harm you greatly, except you have really strong and elastic brain. Even shrinks have hard time with them.
    At the end, again you are true, but at todays article about maturity, there really are more and more people with disorders and after this experience i can spot them better

  22. Nick, if you’re still reading, I’d be interested in knowing whether or not you had a narcissistic parent and/or a martyr parent.

  23. I’d be happy to answer you in private (is there an option on the website?), i am sure you’ll understand :)

  24. Ha, totally. Email me at the address on the upper right.

  25. Causes? Google: multimodal etiology for the development of BPD from untreated ADHD. Synopsis.. Start with an ADHD BiPolar-schitzo f-tard & coddle them as special.. No discipline or limits. You get the typical entitled feminist.