Help! Random changes in vertex groups and weight paint assignments

I am currently trying to rig a humanoid model but blender is driving me nuts by randomly changing vertex group weights, as soon as I unlock any of the groups in the object data panel in order to edit the weights.

Since the model is rather complex and I want it to animate halfway realistically I need to have vertex groups of adjacent bones overlap each other - e.g. the forearm and upper arm, so that the bending between them can be smooth. Therefore I need to unlock at least these two groups, because blender won’t let me paint on vertices in one vertex group that are shared by another if that other one is locked. In case of the forearm and upper arm I would propably also have to unlock the hand bone’s vertex group, since otherwise I won’t be able to paint on the vertices in the lower arm group that overlap with the hand group.

Now, here comes the problem. As soon as I have any groups unlocked that I’m not currently working on, i.e. that are not selected via bones or in the vertex group panel, blender starts randomly assigning the vertices in those unlocked groups to other groups all over the model.

I have already experienced blender assigning all finger bones of both hands to the shoulder bone group, or the thigh bone group which not only doesn’t make any sense but is extremly annoying, because there is no way to select twenty vertex groups in the N-panel of edit mode and just erase them from a selection of vertices but every single misplaced vertex must be manually freed of unwanted influence from each of those groups. The other method to correct these wrong assignments is to go into all the vertex groups and manually remove any of those vertices that don’t belong to them, which is also a pain in the backside.

It can’t be my weight painting, because I don’t ‘paint’ anything in that mode. Instead I select specific vertices, or loops and only change their values in .1 increments, so accidentally painting onto other vertices outside the current group is not my problem.

Am I really the only one having this problem? Please tell me I’m not.