Understanding Personality Disorders

For the average person, their traits are usually fixed by the time you become an adult. These traits are fundamental from your past and from your genetic makeup. Often, they are a combination of positive and negative traits that make you the person you are.

The same cannot always be said of people with personality disorders as their traits tend to be mainly negative. They may act in socially inappropriate ways and are often unable to function normally in relationships whether personal or work related.

There are three groups of personality disorders, each having similar characteristics. These are:

1. Personality disorders that are characterised by eccentric behaviours such as paranoia, and schizoid behaviours.

Symptoms of paranoid personality disorders include:

• Emotional detachment;
• Feelings of anger toward others;
• Believing that people are trying to harm you in some way;
• Believing that what people say is in some way being malicious toward you personally; and
• Being unable to work collaboratively with other people.

Symptoms of a schizoid personality disorder include:

• Being emotionally distant;
• Emotional detachment;
• Being very introverted:
• Fantasising; and
• Being fixated on your own thoughts and feelings.

Symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder include;

• Eccentricities in the way you dress, speak, and interact;
• Believing that public speeches etc contain hidden messages for you;
• Suspicion and paranoia;
• Believing others can be influenced by your thoughts; and
• Indifference to other people

2. Disorders that display dramatic emotional behaviour. These include hysterics, narcissism, and antisocial behaviours and are often quite dramatic.

Symptoms of histrionic personality disorder include;

• Attention seeking behaviours, particularly of a sexual nature;
• Intense desire for approval from others;
• False sense of intimacy;
• Excessive concern with physical appearance; and
• Emotional swings.

Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include;

• Excessive response to criticism;
• Constant attention seeking behaviours;
• Inability to empathise;
• Inflated sense of importance; and
• Being manipulative.

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include;

• Aggressive and violent behaviours;
• Lying and stealing;
• No signs of remorse when hurting others;
• No consideration for the law and other people’s rights;
• Irresponsible and unreliable; and
• No concern for safety.

Symptoms of borderline personality disorder include;

• Inability to control emotions;
• Dramatic mood swings;
• Stormy relationships including physical aggression;
• Feeling empty inside;
• Fear of being alone; and
• Suicidal attempts or ideations and self harming.

3. Those personality disorders marked by obsessive-compulsive behaviours, anxiety, fearful behaviours and avoidance and dependence.

Symptoms of avoidant personality disorder include;

• Socially isolated;
• Extremely shy; and
• Hypersensitive to criticism

Symptoms of dependent personality disorder include;

• Excessively dependent on others;
• Intensely afraid of being alone;
• Not willing to make decisions or to give opinion:
• Tolerates abusive treatment rather than lose relationship; and
• Jumps straight into new relationship after one ends.
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder include;

• Excessively concerned about rules, order. schedules and so forth;
• Perfectionism;
• Hoarding of broken and worthless objects;
• Inability to share responsibilities;
• Inflexibility in opinions; and
• Compulsive devotion to work.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder that shares some symptoms but is more extreme and disabling.

Most people with personality disorders believe that other people are to blame for the conflict and instability that they experience in their lives.

Although these conditions are incurable, the sufferer can live a relatively normal life with therapy and medication.

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