What Does it Mean to Have a Personality Disorder?
Personality is a combination of behavioral and mental traits that form our character. A personality disorder is when a person shows a pattern of behaviors that stray from social and cultural norms. Those diagnosed with a personality disorder may have trouble with their thinking process, managing emotions, relationships or their impulses.
Personalities Formed At Childhood Evolve Through:
- Some personality traits are passed onto a child through his or her parents. These inherited traits makeup an individual’s temperament.
- Environmental surroundings can contribute to a person’s personality like events an individual may experience and relationships with family members or friends.
The mix of these influences are often thought to be the cause of a personality disorder. A person’s genes may make them vulnerable to developing a personality disorder. A life situation or traumatic event may trigger the actual development of a personality disorder.
Symptoms of People With Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are often characterized by constant behavioral problems. An individual diagnosed with a personality disorder may experience unhealthy coping skills. Unhealthy coping skills may lead to personal problems which then increases anxiety, distress or depression.
Physical Symptoms of Personality Disorder:
- Intense, rapid changes in mood and affect
- Problems with emotion regulation
- Emotional liability or severe mood swings
- Destructive and self-harming behavior
- Issues with self-identity
- Unhealthy relationships
How We Diagnose Personality Disorders
Here at Fairmount, a comprehensive assessment is completed with each patient upon intake. The assessment include questions about an individual’s psychiatric and medical history, family history, functioning at school and work, stressful or traumatic life experiences, and social and intimate relationships. Information is also collected from collateral informants such as parents or partners. From these first initial steps, we begin our diagnosis.
Although each personality disorder has its own set of diagnostic criteria, the DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) states that the diagnosis of a personality disorder includes long-term marked deviation from cultural expectations that leads to significant distress or impairment in at least two of these areas:
Distress or Impairment That Lead to Personality Disorder Diagnosis:
- The way you perceive and interpret yourself, other people and events
- The appropriateness of your emotional responses
- How well you function when dealing with other people and in relationships
- Whether you can control your impulses
After identifying areas of distress, here at Fairmount, we determine specific personality disorder types. Categorizing the types of personality disorders helps understand the patient in great detail. The types of Personality Disorders are as follows:
Types of Personality Disorders:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness regarding the motives of others.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder: a pattern of detachment from social relationships and limited range of emotional expression.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder: a pattern of extreme discomfort in close relationships, paranoia, and unconventional beliefs.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: a pattern of disregard for morals, social norms, and the rights and feelings of others.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: a pattern of instability in relationships, self-image, and impulsivity.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder: a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: a pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder: a pattern of social avoidance, feelings of inadequacy, and fear of rejection.
- Dependent Personality Disorder: a pattern of pervasive psychological dependence on others.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control.
*It is important to determine that the personality disorder is not due to the psychological effects of a medical condition.
Personality disorders are often diagnosed in early adulthood after experiencing problems at work or school, and in their social lives and relationships. Mental health professionalsV, often times psychiatrist, will review the amount, type, and severity of symptoms the individual is experiencing before coming to a diagnosis of a Personality disorder.
Our Treatment for Personality Disorders
Here at Fairmount, a multidisciplinary team will work together to develop a treatment plan best fit to the needs of the individual. A mental health professional will work to identify the specific needs of the individual depending on the particular disorder, its severity, and life circumstances.
Personality disorders are often treated through a combination of medication and therapeutic interventions.
At Fairmount Behavioral Health System, we aim to utilize dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) techniques to equip patients with skills in preventing emotional crisis and self-injurious behaviors by promoting mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and building on interpersonal skills (Chapman, 2006).
If any of these symptoms are causing concern for you, a family member or a friend, please contact Fairmount Behavioral Health to schedule an evaluation at 215.487.4100. You can also visit our Admissions Page for additional information.
Victoria E. Bowen, B.S./B.A.
Master’s Level Psychology Practicum Student
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Borges, L. M. & Naugle, A. E. (2015). An experimental examination of the interaction between mood induction task and personality psychopathology on state emotion dysregulation. Behavioral Sciences, 5. doi: 10.3390/bs5010070
Chapman, A. L. (2006). Dialectical behavior therapy: Current indications and unique elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 3(9), 62–68.
Choi-Kain, L. (2016). Overview of Personality Disorders. [Website].
Retrieved from http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/personality-disorders/overview-of-personality-disorders
Hopwood, C. J., Donnellan, M. B., Blonigen, D. M., Krueger, R. F., McGue, M., Iacono, W. G., & Burt, S. A. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on personality trait stability and growth during the transition to adulthood: A three wave longitudinal study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3). doi:10.1037/a0022409