Personality disorders tend to appear during the late teens or early twenties. Once established they continue well into adulthood and frequently for the rest of the person's life.
What are they?
People with personality disorders are often seen by other people as 'strange', and can make people very nervous around them. They come across as thinking, feeling, or behaving in a way that is very different from most people.
Sufferers of personality disorders may well have additional mental health problems such as depression. Often there seems to be a lot of upset/distress either in the person themselves, in those people around them, or both. Personality disorders can be caused by physical things like a head injury or certain forms of epilepsy, but most commonly there is no obvious reason. There are a number of theories around, although none of them adequately explain what happens.
The Types Of Personality Disorder
- Tend to think that other people are deliberately putting them down or are out to get them.
- React really badly when they have setbacks in their lives and often bear grudges.
- Usually very antisocial with no regard or compassion for other people.
- Seems to have no idea of responsibility or normal behaviour.
- Tends to get frustrated and angry very quickly.
- Able to build relationships with other people but can't keep them going.
- Doesn't seem to care about relationships with other people.
- Unable to feel or to show the normal range of emotions.
- Comes across as emotionally flat or cold.
- Prefers to do things on their own, although very few, if any, of the things that they do give them pleasure. In their 'own world'.
- Consistently over-emotional and constantly seeking to be the centre of attention. Always putting on an act.
- Shallow, incredibly vain, and in need of excitement all the time.
- Lurches from one crisis to another in order to get the attention they crave.
There are two major types:
- Impulsive: These people are hugely impulsive and often become violent in response to any criticism that they think is directed at them.
- Borderline: An increasingly common type of personality disorder. Sufferers often speak of feeling empty, and have very unstable relationships. They are impulsive, sometimes becoming engaged in things like shoplifting and casual sex. They have a false image of themselves and sometimes carry unrealistic goals and desires.
These people are perfectionists and not flexible at all in their attitudes. Anxious:
- Feel really uncomfortable in social situations and thus avoid them because they fear being thought of badly by others.
- Believe that they are useless with other people, or in some way inferior to them.
- Tend to be very passive and act as if other people are much better or more intelligent or skilful than them.
- Let other people make important decisions for them and they really hate being alone because they feel helpless.
What treatments work?
Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat, and often end up being 'managed' in hospitals, prisons, or by health/social services in the community.
It is very unlikely that someone will be 'cured' of a personality disorder. However, there have been claims that long-term psychoanalysis has worked. Other forms of therapy such as group therapy, general support and supervision, and therapeutic communities have also been said to be helpful.
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