PTypes - Personality Types

Personality Disorders


Compensatory Narcissistic



Stoics find the source of personality disorder in false value judgments.

"For the Stoics, the fact that people behave badly has a strikingly obvious explanation: they have 'no knowledge of good and bad' [Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 2.1]. Difficult people simply do not see things the way the Stoic does. Rather, they value indifferent things and feel threatened when the indifferent things in which they are interested are themselves threatened" (Seddon, 87).

"People pursue what they believe will benefit them. Their capacity to judge what is truly beneficial may be, as the Stoics think, flawed, but all the same says Marcus, they have the right to 'strive after what they regard as suitable and beneficial' (6.27):

How cruel it is not to allow men to strive after the things which appear to them to be suitable to their nature and beneficial! And yet in a manner you do not allow them to do this, when you are angry because they do wrong. For they are certainly moved towards things because they suppose them to be suitable to their nature and beneficial to them. — But it is not so. — Teach them then, and show them without being angry.

"Our becoming upset at the actions of others, Marcus suggests, denies them the right to do as they see fit. This idea is expanded upon in 7.26 where Marcus talks in terms of a 'conception of good and evil.'

When a man has done you any wrong, immediately consider with what conception of good and evil he has done wrong. For when you have seen this, you will pity him, and will neither wonder nor be angry. For either you yourself think the same thing to be good that he does or another thing of the same kind. It is your duty then to forgive him. But if you do not think such things to be good or evil, you will more readily be well disposed to him who is in error.

"Clearly, those aiming to perfect their characters as Stoics hold a very different view of what is truly good and bad ... , and it is perfectly obvious why bad people do bad things; from their own perspective what they do is good, since they benefit from what they do, or at least they think they do. Seeing that this is the case, not only can we understand why people do bad things, we begin to anticipate what they are likely to actually do. If we attempt to answer Marcus' question, 'What ideas does this person hold on human goods and ills?' (8.14) we may even be able to second-guess someone's actions.

Whatever man you meet with, immediately say to yourself: What beliefs has this man about good and bad? For if with respect to pleasure and pain and the causes of each, and with respect to fame and ignominy, death and life, he has such and such opinions, it will seem nothing extraordinary or strange to me, if he does such and such things; and I will bear in mind that he is constrained to do so.

"If we do this well, what they do 'will not seem extraordinary or strange', indeed, what they do can be regarded as inevitable, given their beliefs, to the extent that those beliefs 'constrain' the agent to act as they do. But in trying to understand other people, we must not loose sight of trying to understand ourselves:

Accustom yourself as much as possible on the occasion of anything being done by any person to inquire with yourself, For what object is this man doing this? But begin with yourself, and examine yourself first.

"In 10.37 Marcus reminds us to examine ourselves before we examine others. With respect to our own actions it is imperative that we ask of ourselves, 'What is my aim in performing this action?'" (Seddon, 88).

Keith Seddon (2006).Stoic Serenity: A Practical Course on Finding Inner Peace. United Kingdom:

___________ A Guide to Stoic Living: A Practical Course on Finding Inner Peace.
Copyright © 2012 Dave Kelly