SL Psychology/Personality Disorders
General Information and Causes
According to the DSM-IV-TR, a personality disorder is an “enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.” The same definition can also apply to the schizophrenias. Personality disorders affect personality, namely relationships, social function, and mental abilities. The disorders are often on a spectrum, ranging from mild to severe cases. Those who suffer from very mild personality disorders lead normal lives. However, interference of the symptoms in livelihood normally arise after periods of high stress or external pressure and can lead to impairments in emotional, psychological, and social functioning.
The disorders are characterized by disturbances in:
- The ability to have successful personal relationships
- Appropriateness of range of emotion
- Self-perception, world-perception, and the perception of others, and
- Impulse control
The combination of these creates the personality disorder, which leads to the exhibition of external behaviors that differ from societal norms. This is why people who suffer from personality disorders have bad relationships with other people in society.
Personality disorders can be caused by a variety of different factors, including – but not limited to – upbringing, personality and social development, and genetic and biological factors. However, because the symptoms arise during times of high stress, treatment centers on coping mechanisms.
Furthermore, Dr. Sam Vaknin has stated that there are commonalities between those who suffer from personality disorders. These are self-centeredness, the presence of a victim mentality, a lack of empathy, the presence of manipulative or exploitative behavior, depression, a vulnerability or susceptibility to other mental disorders, a distorted or superficial understanding of self and others’ perceptions, a need to force the world to conform to the needs of the sufferer, and no delusions/hallucinations or thought disorders (except for periods in Borderline Personality Disorder).
There are ten personality disorders listed in the DSM-IV:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Called sociopaths or psychopaths, these people show a lack of regard for the standards of local culture and do not get along with other people or abide by commonly accepted societal rules and regulations.
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Socially inhibited with feelings of inadequacy and sensitivity to criticism.
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Marked by rapid changes in mood and unstable relationships. Sufferers tend to lack in identity.
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- The sufferer is unable to act on his or her own, but has to rely upon other people. These people have little or no self-confidence and fear separation and are often submissive.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- The person is overtly emotional in inappropriate ways and circumstances and is almost theatrical in nature. The emotions exhibited shift rapidly and without warning.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Lacking empathy and having the need to be admired by others, these people often ignore other people and are hypersensitive to criticism.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
- The perfectionists with an inability to change from habit, also having an uncontrollable pattern of thought or action.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Having distrust of others with the feeling that others are plotting to or are in the process of causing harm to the sufferer. The patients have the inability to forgive, which undermines any personal relationships.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Limited range of emotion and showing indifference toward other people.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Extreme non-conformity to the point where eccentricity is harmful to the sufferer or others (belief in having magic powers leading to physical harm, etc.) or eliminates personal relationships. Eccentricity can be exhibited through appearance, behavior, or relationship style.
Treatment cannot deal with causes because the causes are not definite. Common treatments are therapy sessions in which the patient is taught to take control of his or her life to change or act in a different way toward a specific behavior. Therefore, it is said that the sufferer must want to make the change for themselves in order to be healed. In such therapy sessions, psychosocial or Freudian techniques are implemented in order to determine whether or not the disorder stems from childhood trauma; then, cognitive-behavioral therapy is used. Often, a support system of therapy, familial and friendly support, and medication is used to further assist in treating personality disorders.
Lebelle, Linda Personality disorders. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from Focus Adolescent Services Web site: http://www.focusas.com/PersonalityDisorders.html
(2001, October 21). Mental help net - Personality disorders. Retrieved April 17, 2007, from MentalHelp.net Web site: http://mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=440&cn=8