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Personality Disorder (No, this is not the medical zodiac, so try not to sleep off on this one)

We don’t always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way — it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us, and many other things. But mostly we do tend to behave in fairly predictable ways or patterns. The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behavior that makes each...

personality disorder

We don’t always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way — it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us, and many other things. But mostly we do tend to behave in fairly predictable ways or patterns.

The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behavior that makes each of us the individuals that we are: easy going or anxious; optimistic or pessimistic; ambitious or stay at home; fearless or timid; self deprecatory or narcissistic (self-love, founded on grandiose belief in one’s unique superiority).

A person’s personality can change or get quickly formed; like when a normally timid man following religious conversion, becomes a fearless activist.

There are usually two ends of a spectrum as cited earlier, and those with personality disorders are usually at one end of the spectra, unlike people with normal personality who are for example neither passive nor aggressive but instead, assertive.

If you have a personality disorder, you may find that your beliefs and attitudes are different from most other people. They may find your behavior unusual or unexpected, and may find it difficult to spend time with you. This, of course, can make you feel very hurt and insecure; you may end up avoiding the company of others.

Personality disorders affect how a person thinks and behaves, making it hard for them to live a normal life. People diagnosed with personality disorder may be very inflexible — they may have a narrow range of attitudes, behaviors and coping mechanisms which they can’t change easily, if at all. They may not understand why they need to change, as they do not feel they have a problem.

People with personality disorders may find it difficult to:

  • Make or keep relationships
  • Get on with people at work
  • Get on with friends and family
  • Keep out of trouble
  • Control their feelings or behavior.

There are several different types of personality disorders, which are categorized under three main ‘clusters’:

Cluster A: Suspicious

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

Cluster B: Emotional and impulsive

  • Anti-social personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder

Cluster C: Anxious

  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive personality disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder

You are likely to:

  • Find it very difficult to trust other people, believing they will use you, or take advantage of you
  • Find it hard to confide in people, even your friends
  • Watch others closely, looking for signs of betrayal or hostility
  • Suspect that your partner is being unfaithful, with no evidence
  • Read threats and danger — which others don’t see — into everyday situations.

Schizoid personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Be uninterested in forming close relationships with other people including your family
  • Feel that relationships interfere with your freedom and tend to cause problems
  • Prefer to be alone with your own thoughts
  • Choose to live your life without interference from others
  • Get little pleasure from life
  • Have little interest in sex or intimacy
  • Be emotionally cold towards others.

Schizotypal personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Find making close relationships extremely difficult
  • Think and express yourself in ways that others find ‘odd’, using unusual words or phrases
  • Behave in ways that others find eccentric
  • Believe that you can read minds or that you have special powers such as a ‘sixth sense’
  • Feel anxious and tense with others who do not share these beliefs
  • Feel very anxious and paranoid in social situations

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)

You are likely to:

  • Act impulsively and recklessly, often without considering the consequences for yourself or for other people
  • Behave dangerously and sometimes illegally
  • Behave in ways that are unpleasant for others
  • Do things — even though they may hurt people — to get what you want, putting your needs above theirs
  • Feel no sense of guilt if you have mistreated others
  • Be irritable and aggressive and get into fights easily be very easily bored and you may find it difficult to hold
  • Down a job for long
  • Believe that only the strongest survive and that you must do whatever it takes to lead a successful life, because
  • If you don’t grab opportunities, others will
  • Have a criminal record

Histrionic personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Feel very uncomfortable if you are not the centre of attention
  • Feel much more at ease as the ‘life and soul of the party’
  • Feel that you have to entertain people
  • Flirt or behave provocatively to ensure that you remain the centre of attention
  • Get a reputation for being dramatic and overemotional
  • Feel dependent on the approval of other be easily influenced by others.

Narcissistic personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Believe that there are special reasons that make you different, better or more deserving than others
  • Fragile self-esteem, so that you rely on others to recognize your worth and your needs
  • Feel upset if others ignore you and don’t give you what you feel you deserve
  • Resent other people’s successes
  • Put your own needs above other people’s, and demand they do too
  • Be seen as selfish and ‘above yourself’
  • Take advantage of other people.

Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Avoid work or social activities that mean you must be with others
  • Expect disapproval and criticism and be very sensitive to it
  • Worry constantly about being ‘found out’ and rejected
  • Worry about being ridiculed or shamed by others
  • Avoid relationships, friendships and intimacy because you fear rejection
  • Feel lonely and isolated, and inferior to others
  • Be reluctant to try new activities in case you embarrass yourself.

Dependent personality disorder

You are likely to:

  • Feel needy, weak and unable to make decisions or function properly without help or support
  • Allow others to assume responsibility for many areas of your life agree to things you feel are wrong or you
  • Dislike to avoid being alone or losing someone’s support
  • Be afraid of being left to fend for yourself
  • Have low self-confidence
  • See other people as being much more capable than you are
  • Be seen by others as much too submissive and passive.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)

You are likely to:

  • Need to keep everything in order and under control
  • Set unrealistically high standards for yourself and others
  • Think yours is the best way of making things happen
  • Worry when you or others might make mistakes
  • Expect catastrophes if things aren’t perfect
  • Be reluctant to spend money on yourself or others
  • Have a tendency to hang on to items with no obvious value.

OCPD is separate from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which describes a form of behavior rather than a type of personality. There is a widespread belief that all people with a personality disorder are very dangerous and can harm other people. This is not true. Some people with antisocial or psychopathic personality disorder may be dangerous. But people diagnosed with borderline or paranoid personality disorder are more likely to harm themselves or take their own life.

People with personality disorder are likely to have experienced great trauma in their childhood, and often have multiple and complex needs because of their difficulties fitting in with ordinary life and expectations. People with personality disorder may also have other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorders, eating disorders, self-harm, substance misuse, and bi-polar disorder.

Causes of personality disorders

The causes of personality disorders are not fully known. Possible causes include trauma in early childhood such as abuse, violence, inadequate parenting and neglect. Neurological and genetic factors may also play a part.

Treatment? Well, although personality disorders are sometimes quite difficult to treat, a good treatment plan should include:

  • Group and individual therapies
  • Encouragement for you to continue with the programme
  • Education
  • Planning for crisis

Generally, it is said that people improve as they get older; and often times, this can be applicable to personality disorders as well; suggesting that as you gain life experience and mature you learn better ways of relating to others, gain better understanding of your responses and reactions to people and events, and learn to manage things better.

Successful treatments aim to help you make this happen by focusing on the way you think and behave, how to control your emotions, developing successful relationships and getting more out of life.

Do reach out to us at contact@mentallyaware.org, if you have any questions about personalities and associated disorders, or if you just need someone to talk to.

#myillnessisnotanadjective #IamMentallyAware

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