Armchair Diagnose my Dad.

My dad is 60 years old and an obese workaholic who is driving me insane right now.

1.Controlling: Tries to get my mom to eat/drink different things, “tells” her when she should go to bed, “reminds” her to take her meds (which she can do on her own). He pesters her so much that I end up snapping that she can do x, y, z herself/knows what she wants. He then gets all offended and huffy. Got in trouble in the military for telling his superior what to do.

  1. Passive Aggressive: When offended/percieves a slight, he will sulk for hours or days. He’ll either ignore you or bark curt responses to questions. My mom tells me his late mother did the same.

  2. Workaholic: His job is his life. He has almost died in the past because he didn’t want to stop working and has gone in sick numerous times. For a time he had no idea what grade I was in and I have few childhood memories of him. He also forgot about serious medical issue I’ve had my whole life.

  3. Bullying: Makes jokes/remarks that are hurtful and mean. Comments on what I use to eat (healthy fruit smoothies, even without green vegetables, where “green slime”, I ate “weird and gross” food) and messes with my mentally ill mom till she has a psychotic episode.

Somewhere on the Autism Spectrum? Borderline Personality Disorder? Or just garden variety jerk?

Sounds like he may have been bullied by his father, and normalized/internalized that kind of behavior.

Yeah, just a jerk…but it was probably imprinted onto him, and so, while it’s no less obnoxious, it’s at least understandable.

(Ah, but what do I know; I’m a neo-Freudian…)

He sounds like an asshole.

It sounds like a vague smattering of things that could be symptomatic of most of the major personality disorders. Your father could also just be a garden-variety obnoxious asshole.

There’s no armchair-diagnosing this sort of thing - the diagnostic process for this sort of thing takes time for a reason, and relies to a relatively large extent on a cooperative patient. It is literally impossible to conclude anything remotely meaningful (other than the painfully obvious fact that your father is unpleasant to be around) from the information you have supplied, and anyone who claims otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

His armchair is too soft.

There are few diagnoses that are as different as these two.

Sounds like he’s just a douchebag. Seriously, not every asshole behavior has a psychiatric reasoning. (And you can definitely ditch the autism spectrum – this sounds so far from what I’ve seen of it. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong)

It should be understood that a key component in personality disoders is impulsiveness (or compulsiveness…I’ve never really understood the difference) which makes characteristic behavior essentially involuntary, or at least unconscious. People can be anti-social, historonic, et cetera but fully in control of their behavior which means that they don’t have a disorder but that they are just, as Fuzzy Dunlop puts it, an asshole. There are many assholes in the world who can choose to be perfectly nice people; those with disorders can’t simply choose to change but require intensive therapy and conditioning to avoid interacting with these obstructive pathological behaviors.

As Sampsiceramos wrote, you can’t really diagnose someone from a brief secondhand description of behavior. A professional diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder takes at least a few hours of interaction or observation, along with supplementary information about their past and lifestyle. And even within the established diagnostic criteria there is a signfiicant degree of subjective judgment requiring expertise of a trained disagnostician.


IIUIC, impulsiveness: you see a big red button and have to punch it. Because it’s big and red and it really, really, really looks punchable.

Compulsiveness: you have to touch every button you see. If you do not touch every button in sight you get really tense.
The OP’s dad sounds like my mother except for the workaholic part (mostly because she hasn’t held a job in 50 years). Her diagnosis is “nutting fucks, with a side of bitch”. While her parents were quite bad, all three are different brands of nutting fucks; it’s not so much a case of “specific bad behaviors internalized as normal” as of “general being an aggressive fuck internalized as normal”.

In some sense he makes me think of my daughter that has ADHD, shes just can’t keep herself from opening her mouth even when she knows it will get her into trouble, you can see the vain struggle to hold her tongue for about two seconds before it explodes out of her mouth. She gets her feelings hurt extremely easily and sulks and stews. Even though she is a child she tries to boss my wife around, and is so unrelenting that she eventually breaks her down, she has learned not to try those things on me, so doesn’t bother. Well my diagnosis and 5 dollars will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

The behavior you describe does not not fit Attention Deficit Hyperactivty Disorder (ADHD), and many children are defiant or ‘bossy’ as part of their way of testing adults and defining the boundaries placed upon them. Children are, by any rational adult standard, mostly assholes because they are not completely socialized, lack maturity to control emotional impulses, have not developed strong empathy or an understanding of the needs of others, and are otherwise dysfunctional by any standard you would hold a mature adult to, hence why you have to continuously remind them to show basic courtesy to others, to behave appropriately in indoor or formal settings, not engage in physical altercations and insults, restrain from inappropiate emotional outbursts, et cetera. (That the same is also true with the vast majority of politicians suggests the need for remedial behaviorial conditioning program for Congress, which is a bill I would be pleased to write my representitive to aupport.)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria can be found in many sites online, and your local library almost certainly has a copy. While only a trained diagnostician should attempt to provide a formal assessment, even a cursory read will give an indication of whether certain personality traits or behaviors could fit into a category.


If by personality disorders you mean the specific group of behaviors with that diagnostic label, they are typified by problems of impulse control. So are things like ADHD and some addictions. Compulsive disorders include OCD and Tourettes syndrome.

Impulsiveness is typified by actions that are poorly conceived, risky or inappropriate. They often end badly and the consequences have not been considered beforehand.

Compulsiveness refers to repetitive, rule or system based actions that are performed over and over again. They often have no visible purpose and do not always have desirable results.

It is NOT your concern as to how he treats your mother - unless she can not take care of herself due to disability or mental illness. If that is the case, then report him for senior abuse or to the police.

Otherwise, don’t worry about your mother - she can take care of herself. If she chooses to live with him, about all you can do is recommend she not allow it or leave him. If she chooses to not listen to your advice, then NOTHING MORE YOU CAN DO!

As for yourself, simply do not allow him to treat you in a negative or abusive fashion. If he is doing so, leave, hang up the phone, walk away, etc. You do not need to stand there and listen to it. You can choose to walk away.

If he has good things to say, then fine, stay and listen - talk to him for hours.

Simple as that!

If you are currently living there and he is financially supporting you, then that is another matter. Please give more details.

Oh she definitely has ADHD, she has been diagnosed by more than one pediatrician and from what they describe has a text-book case of it, she takes methylphenidate for it. Now maybe my description is more her individual personality and not her diagnosed condition. But it seems to coincide with some of the symptoms from Wikipedia anyway:

Pediatritians are not, despite the ‘education’ they have received from psychopharmaceutical reps, expert diagnosticians in evaluating ADHD, unless of course they have had additional training in the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders (the vast majority have not). There is a specific regime of standard tests designed specifically to evaluate both the type and severity of ADHD in children which a child psychologist is qualified to perform an evaluate. This, combined with behaviorial observation, is the only way to obtain a formal diagnosis. If you believe that your daughter actually has ADHD, you should get her tested and get documentation of this diagnosis so that in the case that she has difficulty in school you can establish that she has a condition which the school is obliged to accommodate, e.g. providing a distraction-free environment for testing, et cetera. This isn’t to give special privileges to your child or to avoid meeting performance standards, but rather to ensure that she has the appropriate conditions to excel, which is especially important as public education today is dominated by standardized testing which does not make any concessions for differences in personality or educational approaches.

Pharmacological approaches to treatment of ADHD have been a boon for some but should not be viewed as a cure-all; not only does it make the child (and later adult) dependant upon the drug to function, but the efficacy can change with time and external stressors, and the drugs can also mask intellectual talents or capabilies that are positive traits. Behavioral conditioning and teaching the child to recognize distraction-driving behaviors or tendancies is at least as important, and can teach them to channel their energies in positive means. Although the common perception is that people with ADHD are frenetic and inattentive, one of the key characteristics in many forms of ADHD is hyperfocus, which is a tendancy to focus on an activity or task to the near-exclusion of all else. When directed consciously, this can be a very powerful tool allowing the person to be highly efficient and motivated on completing a task, and there is a reasonably sound hypothesis that the characteristics we regard as a “disorder” are actually beneficial in an evolutionary context where the ability to obsess on complex tasks actually facilitated tool-making and development of other non-social “geek skills”.

I don’t know whether your daugher has ADHD or not, and I don’t think you do either, based upon what you’ve written here. What is viewed as being defiant behavior may actually be distractedness and disinterest, or it may be the simple defiance that many children develop as a mechanism to test boundaries and manipulate parents into doing what they want. As I said, children are by definition assholes, because until they get old enough to understand that other people actually have their own thoughts and desires they pretty much just think about themselves and their own wants, which is pretty much the definition of asshole. As far as I’m aware, the DSM criteria has yet to encompass “asshole” as a personality or other psychiatric disorder, which is probably good because if they did we’d have to diagnose at least 30% of the driving public, and pretty much every single person who voluntarily lives in the state of Florida.


I appreciate your insight and you bring up a lot of good points. I frankly a lot of times don’t think being medicated that way all the time for the majority of your childhood is a good thing. I neglected to mention this is my Stepdaughter so I don’t have any say-so over her treatment, its ultimately her Mother’s decision and that’s the route she’s chosen.

I know she has not seen a regular pediatrician but a developmental pediatrician whom I think has additional training to diagnose conditions like these and that is the condition they say she has. I have a friend who was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and grew up on Ritalin and he says he feels like it permanently messed his thought process up and thinks that it made him “weird”, he claims they overmedicated him and he felt like a “zombie” or something for much of his childhood.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. I only accept payment through PayPal so you’ll have to PM me for the account info.

Seriously, there’s no way to know.

I want to thank you for taking my post in the fashion it was intended–I can be kind of abrasively direct–and I sympathize with your situation.

I tend to agree that while medication can be helpful for ameliorating the worst of a condition like ADHD or depression, it is ultimately desireable to learn coping skills rather than be dependent upon pharmaceutical treatment if possible (not generally possible with disorders like schitzophrenia or bipolar disorder). I’ve never taken Ritalin but I have taken a variety of antidepressants and experience a coincident and lasting impact on certain cognitive skills pertaining to memory and analytical calculation.