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Caroline Manzo’s Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

October 5, 2013 141 comments

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“I do think that the Real Housewives show is designed to cause emotional turmoil. I also think that the show creates a high level of stress that can bring any underlying mental issue these women may have to the surface. The show is not a healthy environment for anyone really. Most of these women are focused on the fame and attention they are getting as well as the opportunities to make money from it. It can take a toll on them and their families that may not be worth it but often they lack the self-awareness to realize it. The fact that Dina did really says she has better sense than most.” – angelofdevs, July 19, 2010, A Real Housewife’s View

Caroline Manzo – Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
By angelofdevs, angelofdevs.wordpress.com
July 5, 2010

Once again I am delving into the psychological issues of the Real Housewives of Bravo television. Again I must preface my post with a disclaimer that while I have a legitimate psychology degree, I am not a mental health professional. My conclusions can only be based on what I see and reliable sources, such as direct interview, so take the information with a grain of salt. These posts are intended for entertainment purposes only, if you are not entertained I apologize.

Today I am examining the behavior of Caroline Manzo, one of the stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey on Bravo.

It is easy to see that Caroline is devoted to her family, extremely devoted. It is also easy to see she has some serious control issues. She also seems to be judgmental, rigid and moralistic. Bear with me here but I see that she is a mother, the head of her family, that is her job and that is her obsession. I think she has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder that centers on that, her utter devotion to and control of her family.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is a pervasive character disturbance involving one’s generalized style and beliefs in the way one relates to themselves and the world. Persons with OCPD are typically deeply entrenched in their dysfunctional beliefs and genuinely see their way of functioning as the correct way. They tend to be deeply committed to their own beliefs and patterns, resistant to accepting anyone or anything that does not adhere to this rigidly held belief system. Most often, people with OCPD place blame for their unhappiness on external circumstances, people or their environment but with OCPD it is one’s dysfunctional philosophy which produces anxiety, anguish and frustration.

With Caroline, we see her with her family, always being the authority. Her way is the only way. Her children must pursue goals in her manner. Lauren must take certain beauty classes, Albie must continue with the law regardless of struggle, Christopher will be in the family business, somehow Caroline will make sure these events occur. Supportive? Yes. Also a bit controlling and overly involved in my opinion.

These *children* are all in their twenties and still living at home, throwing ham and living their lives with their parents supervision and guidance. Whenever one of the *kids* deviates from the path that has been set out for them we see Caroline swoop in and play fixer. They are not allowed to fail or learn from their own mistakes, they are lectured and supported to smooth and bolster them to continue on the given path.

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Although rarely observed by others, the experience of inner turmoil within this syndrome is immense. As much as others are often victimized by OCPD’s oppressive and demanding style, the high standards often apply two-fold within the OCPD sufferers’ expectations directed toward themselves. It is not uncommon for a person with OCPD to feel deeply entrenched in the belief that they are a *good person*. This belief can paradoxically often lead to feelings of depression and disappointment. The high standards which their idealized self is expected to live up to are often far beyond the capacity for any human being to consistently fulfill. Since ones humanness prevents an OCPD sufferer from living according his own high standards, a tremendous amount of self-hatred is imposed.

Within the OCPD population is a cognitive style characterized by dichotomous thinking. Dichotomous thinking is the tendency to categorize all aspects of life into one of two perspectives, all good or all bad. The world is viewed predominantly through clearly defined black and white realms. All that is pure and wholesome is valued. It can take only one stain or blemish to have the person completely find justification in discarding anything which evidences a flaw.

I think that is really the way Caroline is.

She barely knew Danielle yet finding out she had a tainted past sent Caroline into a tizzy. Immediately she did not want anything to do with Danielle or for Danielle to have anything to do with her family, friends or intimate social circle. She did not give Danielle a chance to explain, judging her without hesitation. When Jacqueline continued to be friends with her, she railed that Danielle was causing a split in her family and that Jac was allowing Danielle to influence everything. To be frank, Caroline’s focus on Danielle is every bit as much to blame for that as Jac’s friendship with Danielle was. It is really out of line to tell other adults who they may or may not associate with. Caroline hammered and hammered away at the situation until she got her way.

For persons with OCPD, facts and confidence are all too often turned into I’m RIGHT and your WRONG. The way I see it represents the way it is, end of story. For others, refusing to yield to the correct perspective often entails encountering tension and discord. This manifestation of OCPD entails one’s adamantly guarding his dogmatic beliefs to such a degree that casual conversation often converts minor disagreements into heated debates. The relative importance of any topic rarely is of consequence in determining the degree of the intensity expressed in the midst of the debate. For the person who experiences OCPD, abstract ideals and moral standards become rigidly held truths.

Caroline is very rigid indeed. She never admits to any mistake in judgement or apologizes for any turmoil she causes those around her. I realize many of you may agree with Caroline and her assessments but whether she is right in her judgements or not is beside the point. The fact remains that she judges people harshly, they are either good or bad and nothing will change that view, she then bullies those in her circle to think exactly as she does.

She is blind to flaws within her family or friends, their bad behavior is always excused or justified.

Ashley can assault Danielle and she is merely defending the family. Christopher can do a stripper car wash and he is an over eager go-getter, wink wink. Teresa can flip a table and pot stir fights and she is only a passionate woman or just being *Teresa*, giggle. Those bad behaviors are merely silly or justified. Point this out to her and if you push her, she will continue to defend their bad behavior. Even if she has to scream, cry and rage at you to do it, her friends and family are never wrong.

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It would not be unusual for an OCPD sufferer to literally take delight in being wronged, since it affords them, what they perceive, as the justified opportunity to deliver a steep punishment. The term righteous indignation was probably conceived with this perspective in mind. Crossing a person with OCPD provides her the license to hold a grudge and forever hold your mistake over your head.

I feel with Danielle, Caroline takes joy in the conflict. She loves blaming everything on her. It gives her someone to make her look better in life. She is clearly superior to this *garbage* in her mind. I fail to see how anyone can see this play of righteousness as being healthy. She likes to play victim, to see her family as innocent and good and Danielle or any of her supporters as all bad.

In a conflict with someone who has OCPD, the non-OCPD person might be motivated to desperately seek closure. In the process of attempting conflict resolution, the non-OCPD might discover that every minute the quagmire becomes deeper and deeper. It is almost as if the mere effort to find resolution is a punishable offense. In a close relationship, encountering this zone of contempt is bewildering and frightening. All one wants to do is to bring this controversy to an end, and then, you are punished for not being willing to deal with the issue at hand. Within this zone, the person with OCPD feels a great need to bring about absolute clarity for the issue to be resolved. Once again this need for the perfect resolution creates a seemingly never ending tweaking of the issues. Agreeing to disagree is rarely a reasonable solution and often not in the scope of the OCPD’s world.

This really is Caroline. She will not let the Danielle thing go. As obsessed as Danielle is with the Manzos, Caroline and her crew are always talking about her. The healthy person would simply move on, refuse to engage. Caroline takes the more passive aggressive approach, pretending to be trying to move on but not really. She stews about it and she also contributes to other’s obsessions such as Teresa and Jacqueline. You can see the smirky glee at every report of Danielle, the I told you so attitude. She then of course says she did not want to talk about her but we all know if Caroline did not want Danielle discussed she would not be, Caroline always controls things.

OCPD sufferer feels that a lack of genuineness is wrong and being totally open, no matter what the consequence, is the only option. If others are offended by what I say, too bad for them. Moral righteousness and preaching morality as a dogmatic necessity is not an uncommon expression of OCPD. Both of these realms are steeped in the potential for the OCPD sufferer’s truth to override consideration and respect.

Caroline has no issues being blunt to the point of being hurtful. I think she broke Jacqueline down with this method. I also saw this in action by Caroline taking Danielle’s book around New Jersey, informing everyone that she knew about Danielle’s transgressions. Not necessary, she had no call to smear anyone whether it was true or not. What kind of person delights in trying to ruin another person’s reputation, particularly one with children who will be hurt by it? Regardless of Danielle’s past it was uncalled for and it was not Caroline’s business to broadcast Danielle’s issues to the world.

Overall I feel that Caroline is ruled by this moral indignation of her form of OCPD. I feel she is blind to the flaws of who she has already deemed as good and worthy individuals. I feel no matter what someone she has deemed as bad or outside of her circle does that they will remain bad and therefore, the enemy. I feel she controls her family and friends and that she always needs to get her way. I also feel she is unforgiving and inflexible to anyone who she feels is not one of *hers*. I feel that she systematically will try to get rid of anyone who might try to *contaminate* her perfect group, her family. The maintenance of this group’s goodness is her job and keeping them on the right path is her only responsibility.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control. This comes at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency. It is present in a variety of contexts as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • Is preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, or schedules to the extent that the major point of the activity is lost
  • Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion
  • Is excessively devoted to work (in Caroline’s case, family) to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships
  • Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values
  • Is unable to discard worn-out or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value
  • Is reluctant to delegate tasks or to work with others unless they submit to exactly his or her way of doing things
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.
  • Shows rigidity and stubbornness

For anyone having navigational issues here are the links to the other discussions on the housewives of New Jersey:

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Jacqueline Laurita Calls Viewers ‘Ignorant’; Caroline Manzo Tells Viewers to ‘Grow Up’; Melissa Gorga Lies About Why She Is Moving; Teresa Giudice Says They All are Friends with Kim D

June 10, 2013 233 comments

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The following are excerpts from the Real Housewives of New Jersey blogs for season 5 episode 2: ‘A Manzo of Her Word’.

Melissa on Moving
By Melissa Gorga
June 09, 2013 8:25 PM

On Jacqueline:

When Jacqueline isn’t working with him, she’s online researching the next best treatments and therapies to try. 100% of her life is devoted to helping her son.

On selling their house:

I know the perception out there is that we’re doing it for one reason: to get away from the Giudices. But the truth is, we put our house on the market months before strippergate. It was a bad time to sell though because of the economy, so we took it off. When all the drama of last season started happening, we decide to put it back on… That sink, incidentally, is in the kids’ playroom bathroom. They were messing around in there, and broke it. It’s my fault we had it anyway. I ordered the sink online based on just a picture. Big mistake. When it arrived, Joe took one look at it and said, “What a piece of crap. I’m putting it in the kids’ playroom.” FYI: A marble replacement is on order. It won’t be cracked.

Joe put his heart and soul into our house. His father wasn’t in construction. He had to teach himself how to do it on his own. He’s as proud of himself as I am of him and our home. It’s our baby. Yes, we built it. Yes, we love it. And we’ll do it again. We’ll love our next home even more. We already found the perfect lot in Franklin Lakes, where we lived when we got married and have wanted to return to. Franklin Lakes is much closer to Paterson where Joe goes to work everyday.

The reason I pushed our broker Jerry to sell “now or never” was because of Antonia. I didn’t want her to have to switch schools in a higher grade. I know from personal experience that it gets harder to make new friends the farther along you are. My Mom and I moved to Florida when I was a freshman in high school, and that was a disaster for me. I know Antonia is a long way from high school. I just think the sooner she gets settled into a new school, the better. The drama with the Giudices was the final push to get us serious about moving. It seemed like the right thing at the time.

On the episode, it comes off like Joe didn’t want to sell and agreed to it only because of me. Some people might believe I gave him my blood to put him in a house-selling trance. That’s just gross! Joe wanted to put it on the market as much as I did—and to get a good price. To my Joey Michelangelo, our house is a work of art. He’s in the business. He knows what it’s worth—3.8 million, even without a pool!

We weren’t too impressed with Jennifer Dalton’s realtor skills. When we met her at a Sandy Hurricane fund-raiser, she talked a good game. She came up to me and said, “I’m a high-end realtor. I know your house is on the market. Let me sell it!” We already had a broker, but Joe said, “If she has buyers, she can bring them over.”

She brought a client over all right, but then nitpicked about one crack in over a 10,000 square foot house? That’s how she sells a place? I wish she’d spent as much time in the gorgeous kitchen with acres of marble countertops and trim work galore rather than crowd three people into my kids’ playroom bathroom.

I thought having the boys around would help transmit the idea that “love lives here.” Of course, Gino and Joey started in with each other as soon as people came through the door. How freaking adorable are they?

On her father-in-law’s surgery:

During this episode, Joe’s father went into the hospital to get his pacemaker. Whenever a loved one goes to the hospital, it’s frightening, especially my father-in-law. He’s struggled with health issues for years. Grandparents are everything to us. I love how Joe’s parents speak in broken English, and bring that Italian vibe to the house. We cook with them, and they tell us about their lives in Italy. They instill the old world values and culture in our kids. We love them so much. It was also cute seeing my nieces write get-well-soon letters to him. I’m sure they made him feel loved.

On Caroline and Teresa:

Caroline and Teresa had their talk. I appreciated Caroline’s going to bat for us. She’s dealt with a lot of the same issues in her own family and felt personally motivated to preventing it from getting worse in ours. The two of them have been friends for a long time, and had a lot of air to clear. At first it felt like she was getting too involved, but now you can see her heart was in the right spot. Caroline and I get along really well, and I love her kids and always will.

On apologies:

Everyone feels that they’re entitled to an apology from everyone. No one is on the same page about who’s at fault, who’s to blame, and who should say, “I’m sorry.” It’ll take a miracle to sort that all out. But even in New Jersey, miracles do happen. Keep watching!

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Moving Forward with Caroline
By Teresa Giudice
June 10, 2013 12:21 PM

On her parents and brother:

We made cards for my dad who was going into the hospital to get a pacemaker. It was such a stressful time for us. You can see I could barely talk about it without crying. I still can’t talk about my parents without crying. They are everything to me. I can’t start my day without talking to them.

When I was growing up, like most kids, I thought my dad was too strict and my mom didn’t know anything. Now they are my best friends. My dad is my shopping buddy. I adore him. I named Gia after him (his name is Giacinto). My mom is who I turn to for advice. She’s always telling me not to let things upset me, that you’ll make yourself sick with worry.

We do have a small family — it was just me, my brother, and my parents. That’s why it was so shocking to have my brother not want to talk to me. I didn’t grow up with lots of siblings — some you talk to, some you don’t. It was just me and him, and we never fought.

On Melissa’s reason for moving:

Of course it was very hard to see Melissa say (over and over and over) how she was moving because she didn’t want her kids to grow up near my kids. But I will say their house is beautiful and very well made. Joey did a wonderful job. It’s in our blood. My father did construction in Italy and when he first came to America.

On meeting with Caroline:

When Caroline texted me to meet with her, I really had no idea what she wanted. I wasn’t nervous, because we hadn’t seen each other in a long time. The reunion was horrible, but I really just wanted to move forward. I really just wanted everyone to forgive and forget.

I was confused at first when Caroline said my brother had asked her to meet with me. I didn’t mean he was “scraping the bottom of the barrel” as a personal insult to her, it’s just that if Joey wanted someone to be a go-between for us, why would he ask someone I wasn’t in a good place with? Then she said it was her idea to talk to me for Joey. That didn’t make any sense to me either, since unless she had figured out some magical way of fixing her own problems with her siblings, she didn’t have any more answers than I did. I didn’t ask her about her family to start a fight, I just wondered (and was hoping) that’s why she thought she could fix my family. Then I decided that maybe this was her way of trying to reach out to me, sort of her way to apologize for last year. I’m glad I met with her, she did look good, and the place we met was adorable.

On her friendship with Kim D:

I did want to clear up one thing from our 2-hour conversation. Caroline asked why I was still friends with Kim D. when Kim admitted to trying to set up Melissa as a stripper. I mentioned my brother apologized to Kim D. for the fight they had about it, but still wouldn’t talk to me. The rest of that story is that my brother and Melissa MADE UP with Kim D. They were all fine. If they were fine, why wouldn’t I be OK to hang out with her? Caroline and Jacqueline were also good with Kim D. I don’t know why if everyone that was there that night was good with Kim D., I should be the only one to suddenly turn my back on her? I don’t do that to people.

Kim D. never did anything to me, and she actually apologized to me for dragging me into the whole thing with Melissa. I had nothing to do with it. Melissa knows that, Caroline and Jacqueline know that, and my brother knows that. Kim D. admitted it to everyone, apologized, and they accepted her apology. And yet they were all still mad at me. For what?

I apologized to each and every one of them last year as many times as I could for anything I did or said to them. They accepted my apology, we were good, and then they all used the Posche Fashion show and Kim D.’s attempt to reunite Melissa with someone from her past against me. They knew all along it was never me. Why they pretended to believe it was, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll ever know.

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A Long History with Teresa
By Caroline Manzo
June 09, 2013 8:07 PM

On not giving away the happy ending of season 5:

For me, this is ancient history, for all of you it’s fresh and new. It’s going to be difficult to navigate through this viewing process from week to week without letting what I see and hear affect where my state of mind is right now. It also is going to be a challenge not to give away too much of how the story ultimately ends. Hey, but I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, so here goes!

On her caged dogs:

Oh, one last thing, before you go nuts and assume the Shepherds are caged and live a life of misery, think again, they have a HUGE run that has a dog house, water, and even a fan to keep them comfortable when they are not running around the yard playing catch with their Daddy Albert and Fran’s boyfriend, Hank. When we are filming we keep them in the run for the safety of the production crew. Remember, these dogs are trained to protect, so a cameraman lurking around the corner is not exactly in a favorable position! Chaos and Atlas are very much a part of this family and are loved dearly. Trust me, Frannie would hand our asses to us if they weren’t!

On Jacqueline:

Jac and Chris deal with Nick daily, realistically speaking, minute to minute with an unflinching positive attitude towards recovering Nicholas so that he may one day walk into a room with that gorgeous little face of his and say, “Hi Mom, Hey Dad, how was your day?” I know one thing for sure, if love can heal, this day is imminent in Little Nick’s future.

On Teresa and Joe Gorga:

Finally, let’s discuss my meeting with Teresa. Last week I received numerous Facebook and Twitter comments about my meeting with Joe Gorga. They ranged from mind your own business, to you have a great big heart, to I have a thing for Joe. Two out of three of you are right in your opinion. Maybe I am overstepping my boundaries, and yes, it’s my heart that is putting me there. As to the third, grow up.

Teresa and I have a long history that spans over many years. We have both experienced the highs and lows that each and every one of us has in the game of life. We have laughed together, cried together, fought for and against each other too. Regardless of where we are in our lives, I can’t sit and watch this family disintegrate. The bottom line is they do love each other and are both fiercely devoted to their respective husband and wife, children, mom, and dad.

Many of you will throw my relationship with my sister in my face. Understood, go for it, it is what it is, and unfortunately out of my control for the moment. This will ultimately change, and I for one hope with all my heart it isn’t before it’s too late. I live with the fear of my parents passing and not seeing those of us who don’t speak every day mend our relationships. It’s something I take very seriously, and this is why I was so passionate when speaking with Joe and Teresa. I’ve been there, I’ve lived it, and I don’t want to watch a brother and sister who only have each other live with regrets. It’s a heavy load to bear, especially as a parent. So, really, all of you are right in thinking what you’re thinking. I’m overstepping my boundaries, but my intent is pure.

If I could have one wish it would be that we could all turn back time, back when we were young and stupid, where we laughed and cried, and fought for each other instead of against one another. Wouldn’t that be nice?

On a side note, on Keek on June 2, 2013, Lauren Manzo said that she doesn’t care if we tune in or not because she still gets paid:

@Laurenmanzo whatever, like u said. You don’t really care if we watch, cause your still getting paid. Like u care what we think. – mlchael byrd (‏@mbyrd1156), June 4, 2013, Twitter

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Jacqueline’s Emotional Surprise
By Jacqueline Laurita
June 09, 2013 8:47 PM

Insulting the viewers:

Hello again! Some of you doubted I would return for Season 5. Many of you requested I come back and use my platform as a way to raise Autism Awareness. After much consideration, my family and I made the decision to come back and continue to open up and share our lives with you.

Please understand that “Autism” is NOT my “storyline.” “Autism” is our “reality.” We live with it everyday. There is no way around it. A few ignorant people may call it “exploiting” my son, while I call it “raising autism awareness.” It has become our mission to recover our son while helping as many other families as we can. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.

Making excuses for her horrible behavior in season 4:


During the filming of Season 4, our son was regressing in his milestones. I didn’t bring attention to it while filming, because we didn’t have a diagnosis or even a treatment plan in place yet. I didn’t want people speculating on what my son’s issues were, so we decided to keep it quiet until we had an actual diagnosis. It was a very difficult and devastating year for our family. I think you all have witnessed how I kept breaking down. I cried a lot that season. I still cry when I get overwhelmed at times, but it makes me stronger and ready to take on the next challenge.

The rest of the blog was about plugging products and services for the remediation of autism, including the lollipop used to bride Nicholas to say “I love you,” like a “trained seal performing for the cameras (he deserves respect and privacy and should not be on display so that his mother can get a paycheck”):

That “I love you” was the sweetest and most precious gift to receive. Who cares if we had to bribe him with a lollipop? He said it!

That moment was much more emotional than what you saw in that scene. To me, it meant there was hope. If he was capable of saying that and all that he had accomplished thus far, I believed he could do so much more. Since then, he continues to surprise and impress us with his accomplishments.

The lollipops we use for positive reinforcers are either Revita pops (http://revitapop.com/), Yum Earth Organic Pops (http://yummyearth.com/), and sometimes Dum Dums (http://m.dumdumpops.com/).