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Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders are seen as separate from normal neurotic conditions (depression, anxiety etc.) in that they are chronic in nature and involve an enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that is seen as culturally inappropriate in modern society. Importantly, although many individuals with personality disorders may be very distressed by their symptoms, others may not experience any distress whatsoever. Personality disorders themselves do not respond well to medication, although symptoms of the personality disorder may well be alleviated with medication.

While personality disorders cannot be diagnosed in anyone under 18 years old, their traits begin in childhood through early adulthood, and have generally been regarded as lifelong conditions – hence the term “personality disorder”. Cutting edge treatments for them are largely in the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy domain and include Schema Therapy and Dialectic Behaviour Therapy and these can make a big difference with symptoms, internal struggles and ultimately quality of life.

Loosely speaking, personality disorders can be divided up into three clusters, with Cluster A including Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Schizoid Personality Disorder, Cluster B including Histrionic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, and Cluster C including Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

The prevalence rate of a personality disorder is 9.1%, with a breakdown among the clusters being 5.7% for disorders in Cluster A, 1.5% for disorders in Cluster B, and 6.0% for disorders in Cluster C.

Cluster A

Paranoid personality disorder involves a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness where the motives of others tend to be regarded as malevolent.
Schizoid personality disorder involves a pattern of detachment from social relationships and
a circumscribed range of emotional expression.
Schizotypal personality disorder involves a pattern of discomfort in close relationships, and also cognitive or perceptual distortions, and various behavioural eccentricities.

Cluster B

Antisocial personality disorder involves a lack of empathy and a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.
Borderline personality disorder involves a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, mood and self-image/identity, and tends to include impulsivity / acting out behaviour.
Histrionic personality disorder involves a pattern of attention-seeking and excessive, strongly expressed excessive emotionality.
Narcissistic personality disorder involves a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and
lack of empathy.

Cluster C

Avoidant personality disorder involves attempts to avoid situations of perceived emotional distress and includes a pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
Dependent personality disorder involves a pattern of submissive and clinging behaviour, a sense of inadequacy and the resultant need to be taken care of.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves a chronic pattern of a need for and attempt to create orderliness, with strong perfectionism, and behavioural control.

Of course, many people have traits of personality disorders. It needs to be noted here that while we can probably all relate to traits of at least one of the above personality disorders – we all have personality right? – this does not imply that we have a personality disorder. Personality traits are only diagnosed personality disorders if they are maladaptive, inflexible and persistent, and cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress.

Here’s the list of specific articles within this category:

How do I get help for myself or my loved one?

The first step in getting help is finding out whether you have a problem. A trained clinical psychologist can effectively perform a professional assessment, which will identify whether you have any problem areas, and will recommend the treatment most appropriate for you if necessary.

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