Personality Disorders Articles
Numerous kinds of personality disorders exist, ranging from paranoia to narcissism to obsession. Any of these can make functioning in society, at work and in relationships very difficult. However, most personality disorders are treatable. While medication has a role to play, talk therapy is usually the only way of really addressing the fundamental issues. The following articles can provide some information on personality disorders and how to manage them.
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What is a Personality Disorder?
The National Institute of Mental Health currently estimates that 9.1% of the population is experiencing a personality disorder at any given time. Understanding the symptoms and individual manifestations can lead to greater accessibility of resources for those living with these disorders, and a more empathetic societal experience overall.
Below, we’re discussing what a personality disorder is, types of personality disorders and the role of therapy in management of personality disorders.
Personality Disorders: Definition And Summary
A personality disorder is generally defined as a mental illness in which the individual may have a rigid way of viewing the world, which may differ from societal standards. People with these conditions may engage in black and white thinking in line with their internalized beliefs (which may be influenced by the disorder), which can lead to difficulty seeing matters from others points of view.
As a result, an individual with a personality disorder may find that they have difficulty relating to others in social situations and can struggle to maintain healthy boundaries at times. They may also have challenges maintaining healthy long-term relationships, and can experience difficulty connecting to people.
We do want to note that while these can be outcomes that affect someone living with a personality disorder, these occurrences can happen on an individual basis. Manifestations of personality disorders and subsequent effects are deeply personal and vary by every indvidual’s lived experience.
Some people might be in denial that they could have a personality disorder, or they may not be fully aware of their symptomatic presentation. In either case, if no diagnosis or treatment is sought, they may not get adequate support to help them to live a fulfilling life.
Assessing one’s risk profile on a periodic basis can be a helpful tool to mitigate your risk of missing a possible diagnosis opportunity. While some disorders can become apperant in childhood, personality disorders can also manifest as a late=onset condition, which may occur at beginning of the new teenage years or early adulthood. Some can even show their first signs at middle or advanced age(s).
Getting A Diagnosis
Trained mental health professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists or therapists can diagnose personality disorders. General practitioners may have a role in the diagnostic process, but are not generally permitted to offer a formal diagnosis.
If you find that your ability to meet with a specialist is limited, you may still find support from your clinician. In this case, you could make an appointment to speak about your concerns. Your general doctor might ask you a series of questions and may conduct a physical exam to rule out any potentially contributing causes from their area of expertise. If they find that you meet the criteria for a personality disorder, they may then refer you to a mental health professional for an accurate and formalized diagnosis.
At the time of this publication, there are three different recognized categories of personality disorders. A psychological evaluation conducted by a mental health professional can help you to accurately determine what your condition is. The provider can refer to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders) to help to corroborate the hypothesis and confirm your diagnosis. Once you receive your diagnosis, you can learn what your treatment options are and begin addressing your symptoms. In many cases, they could be different types of therapy, supplemental support from medication or a combination of both.
Types of Personality Disorders
Personality disorders can be grouped into three categories (which can be also known as clusters). They are generally known as Cluster A, Cluster B and Cluster C, respectively. Each cluster can be categorized as potentially manifesting with similar behaviors that the conditions in that cluster diagnostically share.
Individuals with Cluster A personality disorders may display eccentric or strange behaviors that differentiate from the societal norm. As a result, their actions might appear odd to the average observer. The diagnostically suggested Cluster A personality disorders can include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Symptoms of this disorder can include:
- Marked feelings of distrust of others
- Persistent beliefs that others are trying to harm or deceive
- Angry or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
- Predispositions that may prompt grudges
- Persistent beliefs that a partner is unfaithful, regardless of if there is evidence confirming or denying the supposition
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Symptoms of schizoid personality disorder can include:
- General malaise or lack of pleasure in life activities
- Little to no interest in intimacy or sex with a partner
- Stoic or cold expressions when communicating with others
- Limited expression of emotions
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
While these conditions may sound similar, there are marked differences between schizoid and schizotypal personality disorder. Symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder may include:
- Auditory hallucinations
- The belief that the individual can influence major events by thinking about them, otherwise known as “magical thinking.”
- Eccentric thinking or way of dressing
- Social nervousness or comorbid social anxiety disorder
- The belief that there are hidden messages for the individual in certain events, occurrences or moments in their daily life
People with Cluster B personality disorders are generally categorized by intensely emotional behavior and related emotionally-based symptoms. Their behavior may appear unpredictable by society’s standards, which can turn volatile if left untreated. Cluster B personality disorders can include: Antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Generalized lack of care or concern for other people’s feelings
- Frequent lying, cheating or stealing
- Violent behaviors or thought processes
- Feelings of impulsivity
- Lack of personal responsibility for one’s actions
Borderline Personality Disorder
Symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include:
- Fear of abandonment
- Risky behavior
- Unstable or fluctuating self-image
- Volatile or unstable interpersonal relationships
- Frequent mood swings
- Suicidal ideation or active suicide attempts
- Outbursts of anger
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Symptoms of histrionic personality disorder can include:
- Persistent attention-seeking behavior
- Provocative displays, including overt sexual behavior
- Overly dramatic speech or regular engagement in attention-seeking conversation
- Being easily swayed by other people’s opinions
- Mood swings that can change quickly within minutes or hours
- Preoccupation with physical appearance
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder can include:
- Maintaining a fundamental belief that you are superior to others
- Preoccupation with high achievement and fame
- Inability to acknowledge other people’s emotions
- Inaccurate or grandiose perception of self and accomplishments
- Requiring ongoing praise and validation for accomplishments
- Experiencing a need to manipulate others for personal gain
The Cluster C personality disorders are generally categorized as conditions where the sufferer is anxious and may engage in behaviors due to fear. These can include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Symptoms of this disorder can include:
- Feeling overly sensitive to criticism or rejection compared to age group peers
- Feelings of inadequacy in one’s sense of self or physical appearance
- Social isolation and fear of meeting new people
- Excessive shyness or introversion
- Ongoing fear of being mocked or having their choices disapproved of by others
Dependent Personality Disorder
Symptoms of dependent personality disorder can include:
- Feelings of “neediness” towards loved ones
- Fear of being alone and caring for oneself
- Lack of self-esteem or self-worth
- Feelings of frustration or challenge starting and completing projects
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Also known as OCD, this disorder is generally characterized by compulsions and hyperfixations, although the manifestation of the condition can vary on an individual basis (as with all personality disorders). Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can include:
- Seeming “obsession” with minute details
- Feelings of perfectionism to the point of taking extreme measures to achieve their goals
- Experiencing issues with control or letting other people have the lead
- Overworking and subsequent neglect of social activities
- Unwavering or rigid opinions
- Extreme frugality with money
- Feelings of nervousness and frustration
- Feelings of hyperfixation on certain patterns, routines or requirements
- Inclination to engage in compulsions
How Can Online Therapy Help Those Experiencing Personality Disorders?
When one is experiencing the manifestations of a personality disorder, it can be difficult to confidently leave the home to seek care in an in-person therapeutic setting. Online therapy can be helpful in this sense, offering a more accessible and affordable option for many to seek support with.
Is Online Therapy Effective For Those Living With Personality Disorders?
Online therapy has come to be popular over the past few years, and has been scientifically suggested to be effective for those experiencing personality disorder symptoms. Additionally, the National Council on Aging has found that it can also support those living with anxiety disorder, depression and comorbid mental health disorders, respectively.
Personality disorders can affect people from all walks of life, and currently are estimated to affect about 10% of the general population. While symptoms can be generally correlated to specific conditions, the manifestations of each may vary on an individual basis. Therapy can be a helpful and effective means of managing the condition(s) in question. BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist in your specific area of need.