What Is Personality?
Personality is a particular set of behaviors, traits, emotions, and patterns that make up a person, his character, and his individuality. Personality includes how we see the world, our thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. Personality is strongly influenced by our values, attitudes, perception of ourselves, and predicts our reactions to people, the world, stress, and problems. Personality is not just who we are, it is also how we are.
What Is A Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders (also known as character disorders) are a class of personality types and behaviors, noted on Axis II of the DSM-IV-TR put out by the American Psychological Association. Personality disorders are associated with marked disturbances in behavioral tendencies, often involving several parts of the personality.
Personality disorders are almost always associated with marked social and personal disruption. These personality disorders are both pervasive and inflexible. While these behaviors can produce poor coping skills, leading to personal issues including anger, anxiety, depression, and distress, they are considered appropriate by the individual suffering the disorder. People with personality disorders may have problems with:
- Keeping relationships - including those with friends, family, and coworkers
- Staying out of trouble
- Controlling their feelings or behaviors.
What Causes Personality Disorders?
The development of personality disorders in certain individuals is the subject of much debate among researchers. It's generally accepted that personality disorders arise from some combination of early childhood influence, genetics, and environmental factors.
Types of Personality Disorders:
Many types of personality disorders have been identified, each containing their own behaviors and symptoms. These personality disorders have been divided into three clusters, Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C. Each cluster has personality disorders (not all listed here) that fall within them.
Cluster A: Paranoid, Odd, or Eccentric Behavior
Paranoid Personality Disorder - those who suffer Paranoid Personality Disorder interpret the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning. Those with Paranoid Personality Disorder are unforgiving, distrusting, and prone to aggressive outbursts (without justification) as they see others as disloyal, condescending, unfaithful, or lying. People with Paranoid Personality Disorder may be jealous, secretive, guarding, and scheming, and may seem emotionally cold or extremely serious.
Schizoid Personality Disorder - those who suffer Schizoid Personality Disorder are solitary introverts, that seem cold, distant, and withdrawn. Those with schizoid personality disorder spend much time lost in their own thoughts and feelings, fearful of intimacy with others.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder - those who suffer Schizotypal Personality Disorder exhibit a pattern of peculiarities, with odd mannerisms while speaking or dressing. Those with Schizotypal Personality Disorder often have wildly paranoid beliefs and, as such, have difficulties with relationships and feel marked anxiety while in social situations. They may not react at all (or react inappropriately) during a conversation, or instead, they may talk to themselves. People with Schizotypal Personality Disorder may also believe that they can see the future or read minds.
Cluster B: Dramatic, Erratic, or Emotional Behavior
Borderline Personality Disorder - those who have Borderline Personality Disorder are highly unstable in their interpersonal behaviors, self-image, and moods. Abrupt, extreme mood swings, an unstable, fluctuating self-image, and stormy relationships are common for a person with Borderline Personality Disorder. People with Borderline Personality Disorder often view the world in black and white - all good or all bad. Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder may have an intense relationship, only to have it devolve over a simple perceived slight. Extreme fear of abandonment may lead to extreme dependency upon others and self-injurious behaviors may be used as manipulation or as a means to get attention.
Antisocial Personality Disorder - those with Antisocial Personality Disorder ignore social rules of behavior and act out their problems as they desire. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder are callous, irresponsible, and impulsive. Generally speaking, someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder may have a history of legal problems, aggressive or violent relationships, and a belligerent attitude. Those with Antisocial Personality Disorder often have no regard for others, no respect for others, and feel no remorse about their actions.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder - those who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder feel an exaggerated sense of self-importance, often absorbed by fantasies of grandeur. They also seek constant attention. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are overly sensitive to failure and often complain of mild somatic symptoms. The moods of a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder fluctuate between self-admiration and insecurity, and tend to exploit interpersonal relationships.
Histrionic Personality Disorder - people who have Histrionic Personality Disorder have a pervasive behavior pattern that involves attention-seeking behaviors as well as overly-sexualized behaviors. These people want to be the center of attention in any group, and become very angry if they are not. People with Histrionic Personality Disorder have shallow relationships and may use their social skills to manipulate others around them.
Cluster C: Anxious or Fearful Disorders:
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - people with compulsive personalities are very conscientious, with high levels of aspirations - often striving for perfection. They are never satisfied with their achievements, so they take on more and more responsibilities. People with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder are orderly, methodical, and dependable, but their inflexibility makes it nearly impossible for them to adapt to changed circumstances. These people are extremely cautious, weigh all parts of a problem, and pay attention to the most minute detail, which may make completion of a task impossible. When a situation or feelings are not under tight control, they may feel isolated and helpless.
Dependent Personality Disorder - those with Dependent Personality Disorder often show patterns of dependent and submissive behavior, relying on other people to make decisions for them. These people require extreme advice and reassurance and are easily hurt by disapproval or criticism. People with Dependent Personality Disorder feel helpless when alone and may be devastated when a relationship ends, due in part to their strong fear of rejection. Those with Dependent Personality Disorder often lack self-confidence and will rarely initiate projects or work independently.
Avoidant Personality Disorder - those with Avoidant Personality Disorder are generally extremely sensitive to rejection and unwilling to get involved with others unless they're certain they're liked. They feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations, are timid, and are afraid of being criticized. People with Avoidant Personality Disorder often avoid any activities that involve interpersonal contact as they're afraid of saying something wrong, they worry they'll cry in front of others, and are very hurt when they are disapproved of by others. These people may have no close relationships beyond their family (although they'd like to) because they're too afraid of their inability to relate well to others.
Diagnosis of Personality Disorders:
When a person exhibits these personality traits in an extreme manner, when they endure over a long period of time, or interfere with leading a healthy life, it's recommended that he or she visit a licensed mental health professional.
Through a long, detailed history of symptoms and situations, a psychologist or psychiatrist may diagnose a personality disorder.
Treatment of Personality Disorders:
There are many options for treatment for those who have a personality disorder. These treatments may include therapies (individual, group, or family), which focus upon helping to see how their thought processes may lead to or cause their symptoms. Therapies may also help people with personality disorders learn to become more flexible in their thoughts and behaviors.
Depending upon the type of personality disorder, medications be prescribed to alleviate some of the symptoms.
Additional Personality Disorders Resources:
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