5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life

5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life: Identifying and Dealing with Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other High-Conflict Personalities

Author: Bill Eddy.
Publishing year: 2018.

5 Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life aims to help you identify and deal with difficult persons. It can be extremely difficult to be around high conflict persons. Even more, these individuals can be extremely challenging to identify. 

Firstly, this book teaches us how to look for the early signs of such personalities. Secondly, it gives us techniques to manage or end a relationship with them before it damages our own life. 

Personality Patterns

In order to help us understand what high conflict persons are, Bill Eddy breaks down their most obvious patterns of behavior in four simple characteristics.

First, a person like this likes to  blame other people, usually with no basis. They are very focused on the blaming game. It is difficult to reason with their “it’s your fault” mentality.

The 5 Types of Personality have simple characteristics.
High conflict persons have patterns of behavior with simple characteristics.

The second characteristic is that they have an all or nothing thinking. For example, they will not make compromises in a decision, they will just say “We do it my way, or no way“. 

Third characteristic is their unmanaged emotions. For example, they start yelling or crying; or they will storm out of a room. 

Finally, the fourth characteristic is extreme behavior: they do things others would not do in the same circumstances. 

90% Rule

In order to better understand the extreme behavior a high conflict person can engage in, we are advised to use the 90% rule. 

According to this rule, we should ask ourselves: “Would other people I know behave like this?” If 90% of the people you know would never engage in such behavior, you should see it as a sign you are dealing with a person with a high conflict personality.  

Asking this question early in a relationship can offer you a warning sign. 

Target of Blame

The main reason why you should be worried when dealing with this type of person, is that they usually focus on one single person making him their Target of Blame. This book offers you advice on how to avoid such a situation:

“When you are a Target of Blame for a high-conflict person it can be devastating. It’s common to feel isolated and helpless, like you are the only person who has ever had to go through this.”

If you do find yourself being the target of blame, either in a romantic, friendly or work relationship, you need to either find a way to manage it, or you need to break away. The book gives advice on how to do either of these. 

When you are a Target of Blame for a high-conflict person it can be devastating.
“When you are a Target of Blame for a high-conflict person it can be devastating.”

If there is a choice, it is a lot easier to never get engaged in the first place, than it is to disengage.

Words, Emotions, Behavior

In order to figure out if we are dealing with this type we need to observe what the author calls WEB: Words, Emotions, Behavior.

First we need to examine the Words the other person is saying. If he is focused on blaming others for example, it is a clear warning sign. 

Next, we need to look at our own Emotions. If the other person manages to trigger intense emotions in us, we need to be careful. These emotions are most often negative, but we should also be on the look-out for intense positive emotions. 

And finally, we have to look at the Behavior of the other person. If he is constantly doing things other 90% of people would never do, then he could be a high conflict person. 

Book Setup 

Each chapter deals with one high conflict personality. They follow a similar structure. The chapters start by introducing one type of personality disorder. Bill Eddy gives us an extensive list of examples from media or movies to better illustrate the behavior he wants to highlight. 

A very detailed view on this disorder follows next. We can read in detail about the words and type of phrases they might use, and their particular behavior.  

Next we can read how to avoid these people. If that is not an option, we have tools on how to deal with them. How to respond to provocations and how to set limits. And finally, we have some suggestions on how to break away if that is an option. 

5 Types of People

The main types of high conflict personality types covered in this book are: narcissists, sociopaths, paranoid and histrionic

The book points out these are Personality Disorders and as such, we should treat them with compassion, as some of these individuals might be sick, in need of professional help. In the last chapter we can read about the author’s theory:

“For example, we are currently seeing an uptick in high-conflict personalities, partly because we are living in a time of rapid technological and social change, which is exacerbated by a huge media culture that focuses on images of negative, high-conflict behavior.”

Being a high conflict person is not automatically something negative. If the people around can manage the behavior, then it can be safe, even positive. We need to understand the information this book provides in order to be able to apply it to our work and our family if the situation arises.

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