Jekyll and Hyde Personality
Jekyll and Hyde personality is the term used to describe a person has two totally different personalities that totally contradict one another. For example, one personality might be loving, caring and easy going, whereas the other personality can be volatile, aggressive, and cold.
The term originates from fictional characters that were created by an author from Scotland called Robert Louis Stevenson whose story was focused on vivid nightmares he was suffering from living two totally conflicting lives. One life was who he named Dr Jekyll, who was the more friendly, easy-going side, whereas Mr. Hyde was the darker personality – the one who was evil, reckless, and tough.
Psychoanalyst and neurologist Sigmund Freud developed the term “Splitting” which explains the Jekyll and Hyde personality in more scientific terms. Freud identified that people who did not experience a secure and loving attachment with their mother or one consistent primary caregiver, struggled with confusing feelings of love and hate towards their mother or primary caregiver for leaving them or not being able to nurture them as they needed as a baby.
It is so hard having two different images of your mother – one that is loving and kind and the other that is neglectful and unable to meet your physical or emotional needs. For people who do not have this secure, consistent attachment or image of their mother or primary caregiver, they try to find ways to cope between the two contrasting feelings of love and hate.
This constant splitting creates a lot of internal confusion and impacts the way a person sees themselves and others. This is because the first relationship they had was so insecure that it forced them to see one person as two totally contrasting personalities. This becomes the template for future relationships where they switch between deeply loving someone and then being really angry with them as the inconsistency and instability is what they are subconsciously programmed to be like.
It is such a deep inner conflict that even in some cases of domestic abuse, people can feel like they are not in control of themselves when they fly into a fit of rage and are verbally or physically abusive to their partner. I do a lot of anger management programs and hypnotherapy for anger and rage in my breakthrough intensive, it is often so deep rooted then work with the subconscious mind is needed. A study carried out by Norwegian sociologist Eva Lundgren found that abusers used something she called “controlled switching techniques” to shift between being a comforting partner and an abusive partner. She found that men would seek to comfort their partner after hurting them, as a way of coping with the inner conflict between the two totally different personalities.
I just want to point out here that not all people with Jekyll and Hyde personality are abusive, however, the main theme here is the ability to switch between two totally different personalities within seconds. Where it leaves the person in a relationship with them questioning who are you really?
Some people may find it difficult to manage their emotions in particular situations that trigger memories. According to founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy, Dr Sue Johnson, we all have one area of hypersensitivity which is a very raw or considered the unhealed part of our emotional wellbeing. If something threatens that area of sensitivity, it is easy for all past trauma and pain linked to that sensitive part, to trigger a response that feels appropriate mentally, however it can seem like an overreaction. This is different to the Jekyll and Hyde personality and is more related to unhealed trauma and pain.
People who show signs that they have a Jekyll and Hyde personality, were neglected, and ignored by primary caregivers, which then manifested as severe anger and aggression because they struggle to make sense with these conflicting feelings towards the person they should love.
A client booked a breakthrough intensive block of sessions with me as she noticed she was snapping at her husband suddenly and struggled to manage her reactions when he did something that seemed insignificant to him. When we explored the root cause of her impulsive reactions, we identified that she grew up in a household where her mother was constantly dismissive of her, and she felt a huge sense of abandonment which was triggered each time her husband neglected to show he loved her. She was constantly seeking that reassurance from him and when he was preoccupied or forgot something or was too busy to reassure her, she projected years of feeling abandoned out on her husband – hence the strong reactions. However, these reactions were always because of a trigger, rather than a Jekyll and Hyde reaction that could happen at any given time without a specific trigger. So that’s the key difference one is where unresolved trauma is there that is then triggered and needs to be released and Jekyll and Hyde can happen without an external trigger, because it is more about an inner conflict.
As you probably know from listening to my other podcast episodes, I struggled a lot as a child my mother was verbally, physically and mentally abusive and I had so much fear, love and hate for her all mixed into one. Some people like me internalize the trauma and criticize themselves, never feel good enough and hurt themselves through various ways addiction, pushing too hard, body punishment etc and others can lash out at others. The breakthrough process I deliver every day, was done on me 15 years ago now and it changed my whole life, my outlook, thoughts, how I see and treat myself, the world and others. I believe that whilst you definitely should not put up with any form of abuse in your relationship it is important to have compassion with a person with a Jekyll and Hide personality who is seeking to change. As long as it is not harming you.
Being in a relationship with a Jekyll and hyde personality can be draining where they regularly switch between being super loving and kind, and then they have moments where they can be vicious, aggressive, and disrespectful without any given reason. This is the key, no trigger and consistently changing. This can make you feel nervous around your partner as you’re not sure which personality you will be faced with each day – making it tough to let your guard down too because you’re confused on how the person you love can be two contrasting personalities.
You may find yourself walking on eggshells, not knowing how your partner will react or what might make them fly off the handle full of rage over something that may seem so small. You may feel unsure of what will trigger your partner’s nasty side even though you are not doing anything to cause a harsh reaction. If this sounds familiar, your partner may be suffering from Jekyll and Hyde personality.
It is really difficult to be the partner on the receiving end of someone’s Jekyll and Hyde personality or projections of their past trauma.
They have a sense of power that they are not going to be left, so they flirt with other people
However, the first step to moving forward is identifying if you are in a relationship with someone who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality as mentioned we can all be up and down on occasion but the personality switches and egg shells can be consistent for some people
Signs of Jekyll and Hyde Personality –
- You never know what to expect – If you are always questioning your partner’s reactions, behaviours or triggers and never know what to expect when you’re with your partner, it could be a huge sign that they are struggling with Jekyll and Hyde personality. In secure relationships with someone who does not have such contrasting personalities, it is much easier to figure out, “I did this so my partner will react like this” or “This has happened so they will be upset”, because their reactions are more predictable than someone who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
- You feel like you’re in a relationship with different people – Being in a relationship with a person with Jekyll and Hyde personality who has two totally different personalities, can feel like you are with different people depending on what personality they are portraying. You may feel like you have to get to know each contrasting side of your partner as two individuals rather than as one person because they are so different and both personalities react differently in different situations, again causing any confusion. If you have children this will also be confusing for them.
- Their double personality affects your emotions – You may struggle to identify how you really feel because your emotions and feelings change depending on which side of the Jekyll and Hyde personality your partner is expressing. If they’re in the happy, friendly and loving mood you may love them so much, however, when they’re aggressive and disrespectful you may notice you become full of resentment. This can lead to you experiencing splitting too as you are struggling to see one person in two different ways.
- You think more about the good times to justify staying – If you’re in a relationship with a person who has Jekyll and Hyde personality, you may find yourself holding on to the good moments where you were both happy and ignoring the bad times. You love your partner and when you’re invested in a person, it’s hard to accept that there is this Mr. Hyde side to them that is aggressive and mean. It’s much easier to forget the aggression and verbal abuse when your partner is being loving and kind. As long as it is nor harming your confidence, happiness and self-worth and you can accept it, then it can be ok. If you feel it’s harming you, it’s worth considering support to decide how to handle it.
If you believe you are in a relationship with someone who has a Jekyll and Hyde personality, and you want to explore ways you can support your partner in working through this, here are my suggestions on helping your partner start healing the experiences that triggers such extreme switches in personality.
- Connect emotionally – explore deeper thoughts and emotions – Sometimes it’s hard to understand one another in a moment of heat so set some time aside for you both to go through your deepest thoughts and emotions. Start off small and then build up to things you have both experienced that led up to the person you are today. Understanding more about your partner’s life experiences will help you understand the way they behave and help you to put actions in place that stop you both from triggering one another. For example, having a neglectful mother being the driving force behind your partner’s switch in personality, may require professional intervention, but also some compassion from you in helping them understand what real, honest and loving relationships should be like.
That being said many people come to me for relationship help because they don’t feel they can connect with their partner. They complain of having an emotionally distant spouse, where there spouse is emotionally detached so it might be worth getting some support for this.
- Put actions in to prevent the triggers escalating – Ask your partner what they need from you if you notice them beginning to shift to a darker personality. Often couples I work with find it helpful for the supporting partner to say, “Let’s take a break before things escalate, I’m going to go for a walk/ shower etc” the space can then give both time to reflect and redirect the day or evening. It is important to know the part we can play in helping our partner, which leads me to the next point.
- Recognise how you could be contributing to your partner’s switch in personalities – It’s easier to blame one another for things that go wrong or cause conflict, however, it is beneficial to look at ourselves and identify possible actions we are doing that could trigger our partner’s past trauma or pain. It’s important not to blame yourself, however, looking at situations where you could approach it in a more considerate way can avoid dramatic switches in personality and reduce levels of conflict. You may already be doing this and walking on egg shells to avoid conflict, living in fear. This might not be a helpful long-term solution as fearing your partner for sure will kill the romantic and intimate connection and desire, so it is key to stand your ground too.
- Make a note of patterns – Are there any patterns you can notice? Whilst you can’t control the way your partner is reacting, you might be able to identify triggers and prepare them so that they are better equipped in situations that may be triggering. This also helps you to control your own reactions and you’re better prepared to deal with any outbursts of intense emotions.
These points are also a great way to remind yourself that the driving force behind these extreme reactions are not you.
In a relationship with a narcissistic or Jekyll and Hyde personality
There are cases where a person with Jekyll and Hyde personality is also exhibiting narcissistic behaviours too. This can make you question whether you want to stay in a relationship with a narcissist, so I want to share the similarities and differences between Jekyll and Hyde personalities and narcissistic behaviours so you can make better informed decisions on how you want to move forward.
Although they are labelled two different things, they can be intertwined in some cases. A person with Jekyll and Hyde personality can switch between personalities in an instance, and so can a narcissist. Narcissists are often a mean person with those they are comfortable with, and they are sweet as pie in front of others as they want to maintain the feeling of being superior to others.
Both Jekyll and Hyde personality and a narcissistic person can be highly unpredictable in their reactions and behaviour – depending on what is triggering them, however, those with narcissistic traits are more likely to reject any form of support that makes them take a real look at themselves, whereas a person with Jekyll and Hyde personality may be more open to healing and moving forward as a part of them hates the harsh, mean side. A narcissist will struggle to accept they are not the perfect person they have led people to believe.
Additionally, a person with Jekyll and Hyde personality is not manipulative in their behaviour. They are behaving in a way that they have been wired to live like from the moment they were born, however, a narcissist will often be calculating in the way they behave and pick their partner as their victim, not by chance but purposefully – knowing they can take control of their partner. A narcissist also sees themselves as one person, whereas people with Jekyll and Hyde personality see themselves in two different ways.
If you’re sure that you want to stay with your partner through this uncertainty in their behaviours and actions like those with Jekyll and Hyde personality, I hope you find my suggestions I have shared, helpful. However, please remember that you are also deserving of support so if you need to, find a professional you can speak to, to help you navigate being the supporting partner. I have had great success with couples who did individuals therapy first and then couples coaching to support one another through this obstacle in their relationship.
X 3 One of the most popular way couples work with me, where I do an individual breakthrough with them each to clear their past, inner critic and resentments and then we work on forward focused solutions for the couple.
If anything I have discussed today rings alarm bells for you in your relationship I want you to know it is very important to put measures in place that protect you, especially if you notice that the switch in personalities is becoming mentally and physically abusive. No one should put up with abuse and if your partner is not willing to seek support or make serious changes, then you need to put your own needs first and protect yourself. It is a tough decision to make to end your relationship, in fact many people that do my individual breakthrough do it, to get clarity on whether to stay or leave. It’s such a huge decision especially if you have children involved. However, if you have given your partner a chance or multiple chances to change or seek help, and they refuse to do so, it’s not fair to you to keep suffering.
Word of warning, you know by now that I hate psychological labels used to put people into boxes, they can be useful to understand traits and patterns but people can and do change behaviours, traits and habits all the time. So please don’t approach a topic with your partner by calling them a narcissist or Jekll and hyde. Perhaps suggest they listen to this or research if they can identify with the term from what they google, share it from a place of wanting to change your relationship for the better and not as if there is something personally wrong and defective with them.
Often, we live life unaware of what trauma or pain we are holding on to from our childhoods and how it is impacting the people we are today. It is so important to remember that everything we experienced in early childhood shaped us as adults and so to understand more about ourselves we need to look into what we’ve experienced before. This is only something we can all do when we are ready to.
I’ve shared my journey in many episodes despite all the self development work I do daily and have done for years, I can still find myself criticizing the way I look. Being totally raw and honest with you now, even today photos of myself I hate, when I see them I see the flaws first. That is my wounding and so sometimes the best we can do is manage our triggers and learn to love them. It’s easy for an outsider to say why care or why does that bother you, your confident just be you. Yet years of a difficult childhood can make wounds deep and self-acceptance work is an ongoing journey. Many people who get the self-confidence secrets audio program find themselves doing it again and again each year, as there are many layers to clear and work through.
Whenever you are ready, I am here to support you and you can start today, by joining the relationship and wellness facebook group J Be so happy to have you there and by visiting my website and downloading the free confidence and positivity boosting meditation