I've been reading the psycho xiaojie threads with great interest for the past year, comparing the various stories to what I've seen and what I've experienced myself. From what I can tell, there are two types. The first is the unlucky, naive girl who meets a foreign guy, falls madly in love in a day, then gets hurt when he drops her because he was just out for a quick fling. I've seen this happen plenty of times, and while the girl's reaction is often extreme, I can't say the douchbag didn't have it coming when she carved "cheater" on his front door, or stuffed a rabid hamster down his pants. Anyone who's been here longer than six months knows what the experience and expectations of the average girl are, and fucking around with that just makes him an asshole. I'm not here to talk about this kind of situation.
I'm here to talk about the second type. This is the girl who finds a perfectly nice guy who loves the hell out of her, probably because she has a million amazing qualities. But in the end, she's so insecure that she undermines the whole relationship, finding problems where none exist, blowing up over incomprehensible things, and eventually doing the same batshit stuff as the first type. This is the one I have personal experience with. No, I have no comment on rabid hamsters. Due to the extreme behavior of both types, we call them psycho. I certainly told mine she was crazy (I may have also used the words insane, nuts, lunatic, and desperately in need of a therapist) before I sent her packing.
I'm not going to tell the whole story of this girl - you've all heard these stories already. I'm going to tell you my mistake. And that was using the word "crazy" as if it were a metaphor, or just to describe her behavior in a given situation. I just recently, after a coincidental conversation with a psychiatrist friend, realized that I wasn't that far off.
Here's a test. Go ahead and plug your own pxj into it, and see what comes out. If she meets five of the nine criteria, she qualifies.
1.) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
2.) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
3.) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
4.) Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
5.) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
6.) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
7.) Chronic feelings of emptiness
8.) Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
9.) Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
This comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition. It's the primary guide used by psychologists and psychiatrists to make diagnoses. Wow, psycho xiaojie gets its own clinical definition? Yup, sure does. Except mental health professionals call it borderline personality disorder.
And I really, really wish I'd known this sooner, because believe it or not, I would've stayed with my pxj. The one who got seven out of nine. The one who had a million great qualities. I would've stayed, and gotten her a little help, and done my best to walk her through it, because she isn't a bad person and she didn't choose her mental state. I would've stayed because I really loved her and wanted her to be happy, and I wouldn't have thought she was such a terrible person.
Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, hey, I'm gonna act like a lunatic and undermine my own good luck! Nobody would ever choose to be needlessly paranoid, empty, suspicious, abusive and self-abusive. It comes from somewhere else. A lot of mental issues seem to come mainly from genetics. Those, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, respond best to medication. BPD doesn't though. Research seems to show that it's mainly caused by environmental factors, with only a tenuous genetic link. If you've been around here long enough to see some of the family dynamics, you get where I'm going with this. Kids who are grow up abused - emotionally, physically, or sexually - account for the vast majority of cases. And unless we've gone through it ourselves, I don't think most of use can comprehend what constantly experiencing that in our most vulnerable years would do to us. So what I would like to see is this: sympathy for the psycho xiaojie.
No, more than that. Unless you're under a certain age and find the amazing sex a good reason for marriage, we don't fall in love with these girls for no reason, right? Well, if you love someone, and they have a problem that they didn't bring on themselves, have some compassion and help them! The real question is, how much do you care about this girl? If you don't care enough to help her, why are you with her? If you do care... get her to talk to a professional.
I know this is easier said than done. Obviously you can't just walk up to your girlfriend who is having a tantrum over the temperature of her drinking water and say, "Hey babe, you're crazy and I'm taking you to the shrink." But you can come up with something. You can be patient and let her get her whole past out in the open with you, I mean, really probe into it and really listen. You can say WE should talk to a relationship counselor to improve things, and use that to lead into something. Personally, I wish I'd tried the second one. I'm glad I didn't keep taking the emotional abuse and accusations - I'm not someone who lets myself get used or walked over. But I wish I'd fixed those through something other than dumping a girl who has a really great soul buried inside. The point is, most people who behave like this have pretty nasty experiences that explain it. She certainly did. And if you care at all about that person, you can do more than just stand up for yourself. There are great therapists and therapies out there for those who need them. For those who want it to, treatment works.
If this sounds arrogant, like a foreigner diagnosing local girls as crazy in some condescending way, believe me that's not the case. I've had my own struggles in life. By the time I finished high school, I had severe PTSD. It took me five years to have a remotely close friendship with anyone, and the better part of ten years to get my shit together enough to finish college and have a real, satisfying relationship. When I was 23, I certainly wasn't any better at it than my ex psycho xiaojie here. I didn't choose my adolescence, and neither did she. So I'm not judging. Just empathizing. Nor am I being sexist by picking on the xiaojies - there is a male version too, he's a stalker or physical abuser, and the best advice I can give any girl in that situation is to get as far away as you can. While this guy needs help too, I have to admit it's harder for me to find sympathy for him.
I realize that not everyone can accept help when it's offered. Sometimes you just have to let people go. But I think a lot of us might be too quick to judge some of these girls, too quick to use the word "psycho," and too quick to leave. Maybe we should all be quicker to understand where it comes from. Maybe, understanding this, we should all be quicker to help. Or at least give it our best shot before we leave. These girls deserve the same shot at real happiness as the rest of us. Considering what made them the way they are, they might deserve it even more.
All I want is everything. Am I asking too much?
- Def Leppard