By Luke Dalfiume, PhD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Co-Owner, John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates
The term “personality disorder” is frequently thrown around in public discourse when someone does not like the behavior of another. It sounds significant and dire — someone’s personality is disordered, after all, but what does it mean? People have different personalities, and there is room for a variety of ways of interacting with the world, including being somewhat eccentric. However, those with personality disorders are deemed to have personality dysfunction that extends beyond a bit unusual or eccentric.
A personality disorder is characterized as “…an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Association). There are two elements to this. One is the internal experience, how one processes life. The person with a personality disorder often has an overly idiosyncratic, self-referential way of processing things internally. This serves to distort their view of life, then resulting in behaviors that make positive relationships with others difficult. The following are the personality disorders and a brief description of each (from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Association):
Paranoid Personality Disorder: characterized by distrust and suspiciousness of others in lieu of any reason. The person is afraid others might harm them or be disloyal to them. Hidden demeaning messages are read into innocuous interactions. The person with this disorder tends to hold grudges. They perceive attacks on their character that others do not see. They suspect, without evidence, that their partner or spouse is being unfaithful.
Schizoid Personality Disorder: characterized by a restricted range of emotional expression in interpersonal settings and a lack of desire for interpersonal relationships.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder: like Schizoid Personality disorder, but with the addition of cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentric behavior.
Antisocial Personality Disorder: characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since the age of 15. Characterized by an absence of remorse.
Borderline Personality Disorder: characterized by highly unstable interpersonal relationships and impulsivity in spending and sexual behavior. Recurrent suicidal or parasuicidal (e.g., cutting) is common, too.
Histrionic Personality Disorder: characterized by excessive emotionality and attention-seeking. This person is the chronic life of the party.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
Avoidant Personality Disorder: characterized by a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
Dependent Personality Disorder: characterized by a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: characterized by a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of openness, flexibility, and efficiency.
Personality disorders can be treated, but few attend psychotherapy for treatment of their personality disorder. Most with a personality disorder who wind up in treatment come in for the treatment of other issues related to the consequences of their disorder (e.g., depression).
For more information or to book an appointment, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates, located at 3716 West Brighton Ave., Peoria, or their additional loca-tions in Normal, Canton, Pekin, Princeton, or Eureka. Call us at 309-692-7755, or visit us online at www.christianpsychological.org.
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