Personality Disorders

Personality disorders occur when normal personality traits are exaggerated enough to cause the individual significant problems in their everyday life. Please seek advice from your GP or mental health professional if you feel any of these problems are affecting you.

Most personality disorders are not easily treatable with medication, but symptoms can sometimes be managed with medication and/or talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. Self-help support can also be useful.

There are many different types of Personality Disorder, as shown below:

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is defined by an ongoing disregard for the rights of others. This can be seen as: a reckless disregard for the safety of themselves or others, failure to conform to social norms in terms of obeying rules/laws, deceitfulness, lying for personal profit or pleasure and a lack of remorse for actions that hurt other people.

Borderline Personality Disorder
(also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder)

An individual with BPD often displays a pattern of unstable personal relationships, poor self-esteem and poor impulse control in areas such as spending, sexual conduct, driving, eating and substance abuse. A person with BPD fears abandonment and will go to any length to prevent this, often feeling chronic emptiness. One specific symptom of BPD is known as ‘splitting’ – where the person with BPD will swing between idealising and devaluing people in relationships. There may be suicidal threats, gestures or attempts made by a person with BPD and they may also self-harm. An individual with BPD may be susceptible to outside stress with feelings of depression and anger easily provoked, and frequent anxiety. Under extreme stress, someone with BPD may experience paranoid thoughts or may have dissociative symptoms such as ‘running on automatic’ and disconnecting from reality.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Individuals with a dependent personality disorder often passively allow others to assume responsibility for major (and often all) life decisions due to a lack of self-confidence or lack of ability to function independently. This leads to the person making their own needs secondary to the needs of others, and then ultimately becoming dependent upon them. People with dependent personality disorder end up viewing themselves only as an extension of others rather than a person in their own right.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder can be characterised as people who are always calling attention to themselves, are lively and melodramatic. Minor situations can cause wild mood swings. They easily become bored with normal routines and crave new, novel situations and excitement. In relationships, they form bonds quickly, but the relationships are often shallow, with the person demanding increasing amounts of attention.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

An individual with narcissistic personality disorder possesses inflated self-importance, preoccupation with fantasies or unlimited success, a driven desire for attention and admiration, an intolerance of criticism and disturbed self-centred interpersonal relationships. They can be seen as being conceited and generally have low self-esteem. They can often act selfishly, with a sense of entitlement over others.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder exhibit a decreased ability to show warm and tender emotions, a perfectionism that decreases the ability to see the bigger picture, difficulty in doing things any way other than their own, and an excessive devotion to work, as well as indecisiveness. Essentially, everything must be right, and nothing can be left to chance.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

An individual with a paranoid personality disorder often has a great amount of suspiciousness and distrust of other people. They also tend to be emotionally cold or detached. A person suffering from a paranoid personality disorder would also be seen to view others as having malicious intentions. It is also common for those with a paranoid personality disorder to be very draining to be around, as their constant suspicion makes others feel the need to reassure them all the time. They tend to drive others away which can lead to living a very lonely life.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

People with schizoid personality disorders are very shy. They have few social relationships, express few emotions and appear not to care what others think of them. While they do not do well in contact with people, they often excel in positions where they have minimum contact with others.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

A person diagnosed with a schizotypal personality disorder has a reduced capacity for social and interpersonal relationships. They may think differently to others and appear to be quite eccentric. The person may think magically (e.g. being able to make things happen through power of thought) and may have paranoia. They may be seen to talk to themselves, dress inappropriately and be extra sensitive to criticism.


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