What's Your Personality: The Porcupine

What's Your Personality: The Porcupine
Dr. Phil talks with guests about the traits that dominate their personality.

Michelle's nagging and nitpicking keeps everyone around her on pins and needles. "I treat strangers a lot better than I treat my own husband. I stomp. I slam doors," she admits.

"Her rage just comes out in different ways," says her husband Ken. "She's kicked, she's bit, she's thrown glasses at me. I never really know what I'm going to find when I walk in the door."

When her husband tries to hug or kiss her, Michelle feels "prickly and stiff" and can't calm down to receive affection.

He is living on eggshells, and says his wife's anger is driving him away. "I have to tiptoe around certain things so that she doesn't blow up," says Ken.

"I try to hold in my anger because I'm afraid that everyone I love around me is going to leave, including my husband," says Michelle, who answered YES to all the questions on Dr. Phil's quiz about having a "porcupine" personality.

Dr. Phil begins by asking Ken why he puts up with this. Ken says he knows Michelle's anger builds up inside her, and he'd rather she take it out on him than the kids.

Dr. Phil tells Michelle, "You understand, you're just a bully. My view is bullies are cowards. You get with the people you know have to stay. He's got children in the mix. He won't leave because he doesn't want you to turn on the kids. You've got hostages. That's not a pretty picture, is it?"


Dr. Phil asks Michelle what she's angry about. Michelle says that she's been on the defense for a long time, but she doesn't know what the core problem is.

"I believe anger is a cover-up," says Dr. Phil. "I think that when people get hurt and they don't have the confidence to be vulnerable and say, 'I'm hurt here,' then they just lash out. It's hurt, fear or frustration. It's like, 'I fear the wheels are coming off here, so I'm going to attack before I am attacked.'"

Dr. Phil asks Michelle what she's hiding behind the anger. "What are you so afraid that if you show him, he can use against you?"

"I've just never been vulnerable," explains Michelle. "I feel like I have to protect myself."

"Do you not trust him? Do you not think he really cares about you?" asks Dr. Phil. "Do you not trust yourself to be able to handle it if he doesn't do exactly what you want him to do?"

"That could be," admits Michelle.

Dr. Phil turns to Ken, "If you don't get anything else, you need to understand this has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with how you sweep the floor, how you fold the laundry, or whether you get dirt on the carpet. Do you get that?"

"Yes, I understand that," says Ken.

Dr. Phil continues: "You are not helping by allowing her to do this. You've got to get a backbone and stand up and say, 'If you are going to stay in this relationship with me, you are going to have to play at a higher level. Because I'm not going to take this abuse, I'm not going to let you model this for the children.' You're going to have to get some strength to say that and you're going to have to mean it."
Dr. Phil turns to Michelle, "Because you can control this, you just haven't been required to."

Dr. Phil asks Michelle if she's ever asked herself how much fun she is to live with.


 "I've asked myself that many times," says Michelle. "I told myself if I was treated like this, I'd have been gone a long time ago."

Dr. Phil asks her, "What do you know about you that we don't know, that you are so afraid somebody is going to see if they get close to you?"

Michelle struggles to come up with an answer, but she eventually admits that she doesn't want to be vulnerable to people and that she's afraid of getting hurt.

Dr. Phil points out the irony of Michelle's anger. "It's the power position for you. But the truth is, we are never weaker then when we are angry." He asks Michelle to take the word anger out of her vocabulary, and every time she gets upset, she has to say, "I'm hurt and I'm scared about the following."


"You can't fix it if you don't deal with the real issue," says Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil points out that Michelle had this modeled for her. Michelle agrees that the key women in her life taught her that this is how women should be.

"The most powerful people in our lives are the same-sex parents," says Dr. Phil. "But aren't you just absolutely in pain where you are now?" he asks.

"It's miserable," says Michelle.

Dr. Phil explains that Michelle is hiding behind a wall of anger to avoid getting hurt, but if she steps out behind that wall, she will only get hurt occasionally, versus feeling guaranteed misery every hour of the day.

Dr. Phil tells Michelle to look at her husband. "How long has it been since you let him be your soft place to fall?"

"A long time," Michelle replies.

"Aren't you tired?" asks Dr. Phil. He asks her how it would feel to just go up to Ken one day and tell him that he just needs to take care of her today.

"It would feel wonderful, I've never allowed myself that," says Michelle. She admits it would scare her and that she is not comfortable enough to do that. "Because I've hurt him so much in past, he doesn't want to be around me anymore," says Michelle.

Dr. Phil points out that Ken is still here and he hasn't given up yet. "What have you got to lose?" he asks her.

Dr. Phil asks Ken, "Are you done with her or are you willing to give her another chance?"

"I would give her another chance," says Ken. "I don't have both feet out the door yet."