So what are Personality Disorders?

Looking at oneself and becoming aware of what our problems are. Getting honest with ourselves and others about the good and the bad, can make all the difference in the world to our happiness.

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A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from the expectations 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. These can be looked at and treated if identified by doctors or at a counselling facility. The source of Personality Disorders is mainly attributed to the development of immature and distorted patterns of personality functioning which lead to persistent maladaptive ways of perceiving, thinking, relating to others, and interacting with the world.

If you or someone close to you suffers from behaviours that interfere with healthy functioning in life, in work and in play as well as relationships perhaps it’s time to get some help to remove whatever may be blocking your potential and your joy in life.

Looking at oneself and becoming aware of what our problems are. Getting honest with ourselves and others about the good and the bad, can make all the difference in the world to our happiness. It can also effect how we think, feel and act. If you’re unhappy, stuck, lost, depressed or addicted maybe it’s time to stop the cycle of going around in circles and get to a place where you accept things as they are, and take action to make them better.

What this means very loosely in basic English is that a personality disorder is a certain way of being, of thinking and of behaving that is not what we and others close to us expect us to be, think and act like. It is a noticeable difference in being from the average person or even from how we used to be as a person (onset is most often in adolescence). How does anyone really tell? Perhaps no one can for sure, but the general knowing of this personality change in the norm can be a big when, or if issues show up in our lives that we have to deal with. A personality disorder affects how we do things. It affects how we manage our feelings. It also affects the way we think. So if we think bad thoughts about another persona that aren’t real, we can feel bad about them for now reason. In an extreme case we may wrongly think all people, or all men, or all doctors for example are bad. Having these thoughts in turn can overwhelm us with feelings of hopelessness, anger and fear.

depression and addiction
personality disorders can be treated

Personality disorders may be mild, moderate or severe, and people may have periods of “remission” where they function well. Personality disorders are a type of mental disorder that can damage lives and relationships if left undiagnosed and untreated. People who have personality disorders can express a wide range of emotions and behaviors that are considered detrimental to relationships. They can also lead to and even exacerbate depression and addiction. Drug addiction can exacerbate the symptoms of a personality disorder or create an entirely separate problem. Someone whose disorder causes them to lose contact and damage relationships with loved ones may turn to drugs as a source of comfort. An individual suffering from a personality disorder may resort to drugs abuse as an outlet for the stresses of daily life, but when that person tries to stop drug use, withdrawal symptoms may set in because of the body’s previous dependence on the drug.

Substance abuse and addiction often coexist with a personality disorder. A study was published that showed that 46 percent of people with a substance use disorder suffer from at least one personality disorder; however, symptoms can overlap and can be hard to diagnose. If the patient is admitted to a decent drug rehab facility with staff educated in psychology rather than just the 12 steps of AA, the staff will often conduct dual diagnosis assessments to identify the presence of a comorbid condition and to determine the best course of treatment.

Personality disorders may be associated with genetic and family factors. Experiences of distress or fear during childhood, such as neglect or abuse, are common. So where do they originate? No one knows where or why either.

There are many forms of measurement and classification of personality disorders such as the DSM 5, ICD and other criteria that have very different ways of classifying problems with personality. Although we have to leave diagnosis to the professionals, people should also have a generalized idea of when something feels like it’s just not right, so that help can be called in. Sooner rather than later.

A good simple breakdown is from the UK as below, which should give you a basic idea of these problems.

One person may meet the criteria for several different types of personality disorder, while a wide range of people may fit the criteria for the same disorder, despite having very different personalities.

ANTISOCIAL AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY AND ADDICTION STATS.

According to epidemiological statistics published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, close to 15 percent of American adults — nearly 40 million people — have a personality disorder.

A research study by Zimmerman and Coryell (1989) found that about 43-77% of people diagnosed with personality disorders would also meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their lives. Other researchers, such as Verheul and colleagues (1995, 1998), have looked at the co-occurrence between personality disorders and substance use disorders from the opposite angle. They reported that 44% of people with alcohol use disorders would meet the criteria for a personality disorder. Furthermore, 77% of people who abuse opiates would meet the criteria for a personality disorder. In particular, two personality disorders frequently co-occur with substance use disorders. These are antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder (Verheul, van den Brink & Hartgers, 1995).

TYPES OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS.

An addictive personality refers to a particular set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions. But of course there are many other types of personalities about.

* Antisocial personality disorder: Manipulating, exploiting or violating other’s rights
* Avoidant personality disorder: Excessive shyness, inadequacy and fear of rejection
* Borderline personality disorder: Unstable and turbulent emotions, actions and relationships
* Dependent personality disorder: Excessive dependence on other people
* Histrionic personality disorder: Acting emotional or dramatic to draw attention
* Narcissistic personality disorder: Inflated ego and an obsession with the self
* Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: A preoccupation with rules, orderliness and control
* Paranoid personality disorder: Unfounded distrust and suspicion of others
* Schizoid personality disorder: Feelings of social isolation and indifference to people
* Schizotypal personality disorder: Difficulty with relationships and irregular lifestyle patterns

Below are some details about some of the more common personality types.

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
• have had a diagnosis of conduct disorder before the age of 15.

You will be at least 18 years old.

This diagnosis includes ‘psychopathy’. This term is no longer used in the Mental Health Act, but a ‘psychopathy checklist’ questionnaire may be used in your assessment.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

You are likely to:
• feel that you don’t have a strong sense of who you really are, and others may describe you as very changeable
• suffer from mood swings, switching from one intense emotion to another very quickly, often with angry outbursts
• have brief psychotic episodes, hearing voices or seeing things that others don’t
• do things on impulse, which you later regret
• have episodes of harming yourself, and think about taking your own life
• have a history of stormy or broken relationships
• have a tendency to cling on to very damaging relationships, because you are terrified of being alone.

The term ‘borderline’ is difficult to make sense of, and some people prefer the term ‘emotionally unstable personality disorder’ or ‘emotional instability disorder’, which is sometimes used in place of ‘borderline personality disorder’. (Also see our information about borderline personality disorder.)

depression and addiction
depression and addiction

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 others
• 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
• have fragile self-esteem, so that you rely on others to recognise 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.

While people with personality disorders can possess very different personality disturbances, they have at least one thing in common: chances are their mental illness will not remit without professional intervention. However, exactly what that intervention should consist of remains a subject for debate. This, along with the disorders’ notoriety for being problematic to treat, has posed challenges to their successful resolution, or at least management.

So there you have it. For more help or assistance in knowing yourself, issues and all, getting going with putting an end to ongoing, untreated life issues and problems and for counselling help contact us and we’ll try and steer you in the right direction.

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Call us on +44 533 0330 or email info@sanctuaryplett.co.za

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