Is this a Personality Disorder?

Searching is not bringing up anything, but I’m not sure how to word it.

I met a woman who leaves out details during conversations and then gets irate when I start asking questions to fill in the details. She has had other people tell her she is vague in describing things. She gets irate not so much that I’m asking questions but that I’m pointing out she’s leaving out details AGAIN.

Not sure if that has an actual name. But I have a friend who is the opposite. It takes her an hour to tell a story that should’ve been only 5 minutes. Way too much irrelevant detail. She gets irate when you tell her to get on with it, or try and interrupt her to move her along. In her case, I think she just likes it when people are paying attention to her more than the desire to tell a story.

Which part, the vague stories or your impulsive interruptions?

It’s a disorder for her if it causes problems for her in her life. Otherwise it’s just a personality trait. Annoying you with it doesn’t make it a disorder.

After a little more contemplating, I believe it is a problem taking constructive criticism.

This line made me do some introspection of my own.

“Criticism from others can be difficult to take, especially if the person delivering the criticism isn’t exactly subtle about it.”

I’m assuming the OP’s questions are not asked out of simple curiosity, but because the story being told is unclear or incomprehensible without the omitted details.

If so, we have two issues going on here:

  1. The woman’t inability to articulate a narrative intelligibly.

  2. The woman’s irritation when confronted with this inability.

Neither of these is anything like a personality disorder. The first could be an intellectual deficit - a processing speed issue, perhaps, which impedes her ability to arrange and present information “on the fly”, or perhaps at all. (Can this woman write a coherent report, if given ample time to do so?) The second is just a psychological defence mechanism. She can’t actually fix her intellectual deficit, so pointing it out is no help to her and she experiences it as hostile and unhelpful, and reacts accordingly.

I think that is it.

The difference between personality characteristics and disorders is vague and highly subjective.

The leaving out details part doesnt sound like an ‘official’ personality disorder described in the DSM IV or other classification (not that I’m a dsm expert - if anyone is, please confirm or correct)

The getting irate part could be one. Apparently she feels threatened by your questions. I’m guessing you ask them out of honest curiosity and interest in what she has to say, but she seems to feel you are questioning here story or even intellect. She could use a little more confidence in herself.

Then again, this also sounds like a classic battle of the sexes: the women just wants to talk about whatever and just wants you to listen and mumble back to let her know you were liztening and agree with whatever point she’s making or action she took.

When you say ‘I met a woman …’, do you mean just a friend/coworker or ‘she could be the one’? If the latter, I’d seriously reconsider if you two will really be happy together in the long run…

So this woman helped you learn something about yourself. You should thank her.

Yes! Great stuff guys.

I tell her to tell me my faults and I take it as constructive criticism. I’m pretty thick skinned though and she isn’t.

I understand what you are saying, I’m a very impatient thick-skinned person myself most of the time. However, if I am an overly-critical person then I can’t justify it by saying I’m open to criticism myself.

Good point.

If this is the only symptom, this is unlikely to be a personality disorder.

BUT, if you believed* that she was doing this “on purpose”, to always leave you at conversational disadvantage, it may be a manifestation of Passive-Aggressive disorder. If so, there should be other signs.

*Of course, this can be a very subjective judgement, which is why passive-aggressive disorder (and other personality disorders) are often over diagnosed, especially by lay people (of which I am one). I’m not sure of the current status of Passive-Aggressive Disorder in the mental health community.

from above:

…that I’m pointing out she’s leaving out details AGAIN.

In other words, you keep criticizing her even though it doesn’t work to make things better. You do the same dysfunctional thing over and over… just like her.

I think any time you expect other people to change, you’re wasting your time. Ask the questions necessary to get the information needed and move on. Leave the criticism for people who ask for it.

I often have to deal with “the public” and that often means that I have to guide the conversation or all hope is lost. Instead of expecting her to automatically deliver what you need, you might find a non-confrontational way to simply control the dialog in a way that insures you get what you need without the need for annoyance or criticism.

The problem with ‘is this a personality disorder’ is that the symptoms of personality disorders are all traits that people normally have, they’re just exaggerated to unhealthy levels and combined in certain patterns. And personality disorders are not mild, easily treated mental issues, they’re complex and pervasive across the person’s entire, well, personality. If someone just has one odd characteristic, jumping to layman-diagnose a personality disorder just makes no sense.

More good points. All duly noted. Thanks all.

My wife is similar when she’s talking/telling stories, so I can relate to the frustration… :slight_smile: It is not productive to continually point out the holes in her stories, just leads to arguments.

I will say that she tries hard to organize her thoughts coherently, but it is a difficult cognitive issue to overcome.

I have a coworker who does this to a mild degree. She’ll mention “that” without specifying what “that” is. Or she’ll reference a “he” or a “she” without giving any indication of who the hell she’s talking about.

She doesn’t get irate when it’s pointed out, though.

I have always assumed she does this it to drag out a story for dramatic effect. By being intentionally vague, she forces the listener to ask for more details, which may feed her desire to be the center of attention. But another hypothesis is that she just lacks self-awareness. Maybe she has some degree of “mind blindness”, whereby it is hard for her to intuit when she knows something another person cannot possibly know. I actually think this might be it, since she tends to be very judgmental towards people who aren’t as detail-oriented as she is. Which is kinda ironic given her conversational style.

It most likely isn’t a true personality disorder - it is just an annoying personality trait to you at least (and would be to me as well). My ex-wife and her father have the opposite trait. When they are in any situation where they feel they have some power, they don’t speak in conversations - it goes straight into monologue or lecture mode with no opportunity to speak yourself for 5 minutes or more at a stretch. They object if you even try to utter a sentence fragment when they are in that mode (which typically comes up several times a day).

They go into excruciating detail about things that you don’t care about, aren’t interested in and obviously don’t want to listen to at least right then in that format. I resorted to strategies like raising my hand when I wanted to ask a question or just getting up and walking out of the room mid-monologue if it got too bad.

It isn’t a personality disorder for them either other than vastly overstating how much other people want to listen to their brilliant insights, analyses and complaints. It is just simple self-centeredness. My ex-FIL is at least a good speaker that tries to entertain or inform in his own Donald Trump kind of way. My ex-wife, his daughter, learned the same general style but didn’t quite get it so she just comes across as a babbling ninny that will not acknowledge that other people may want to ask questions or speak unless someone forces her to.