Personality Disorders

Everyone has a unique personality – no two people are exactly alike. We all have unique ways of looking at the world and relating to our experiences. When your way of thinking is different from most people and affects and inhibits your mood, behaviour, social interactions, relationships and work, you may have a personality disorder.

There are 10 personality disorders that are divided into 3 clusters:

Cluster A: Odd or abnormal behaviour

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder is a psychological disorder characterized primarily by having an extreme distrust of all people. It is different from the paranoid tendencies of someone with schizophrenia or shizotypal disorder in that the paranoia does not coexist with or seem to be caused by hallucinations, fantasies or delusions.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a lack of motivation or need to interact with the outside world. Schizoid personality disorder shares two traits with schizophrenia: detachment and a lack of outward emotion. However, the two are separate disorders, as those with schizophrenia have hallucinations and other extreme symptoms that those with schizoid personality disorder do not.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by an extreme need to isolate oneself from others, and when forced to interact with loved ones or strangers, the person acts in an unusual or standoffish manner. Schizotypal personality disorder is sometimes a precursor to schizophrenia, although this is not always the case. It can also appear in individuals with other disorders, such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder and social anxiety.

Cluster B: Dramatic or emotional behaviour

  • Borderline Personality Disorder is a psychological disorder that can cause a number of issues, including extreme emotional highs and lows that seem to occur on a cycle. It can be inherited, and is thought to be related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Those with Borderline Personality Disorder will begin to show symptoms upon reaching early adulthood.
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder is related to conduct disorder. However, conduct disorder is diagnosed in children and teenagers, while antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed in adults. The two disorders do have some traits in common, most notably that people with these disorders resist conforming to various societal behavioural norms.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder is characterized by an extreme, constant need for attention. Those with histrionic personality disorder may manipulate situations and other people in order to keep the “spotlight” on them. This can lead to forced isolation from friends and loved ones, who tire of the dramatic actions of those with histrionic personality disorder.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer has a very inflated sense of self-esteem and feelings of entitlement. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder has a tendency to be vain and displays a lack empathy for others. Most of the people diagnosed with this personality disorder are men.

Cluster C: Anxious behaviour

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder has also been called anxious personality disorder. Some professionals believe that it is related to social phobia/social anxiety disorders, due to the fear of social situations experienced by those diagnosed with this disorder. However, despite the related symptoms of the two disorders, Avoidant Personality Disorder stands on its own because of its extreme nature.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder is characterized by the extreme need to rely on other people for everything, from making important decisions to going out in public. Those with this personality disorder cling to others – either psychologically or physically – in an unhealthy manner in order to avoid being alone or having to be independent.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Although the name of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder sounds similar to that of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) the two are distinctly different. OCD is an anxiety-based disorder, while obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by the need for routines and orderliness to achieve perfection and is unrelated to anxiety itself.

When is it time to get help?

Untreated Personality Disorders can have a negative effect on your life – your relationships, your work and your self esteem. If you feel like you may have one of these disorders – you should consider getting some support form a professional therapist.

Treatment methods for personality disorders

Depending on the disorder, there are many effective treatments for Personality Disorders including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, emotions and beliefs influence your behaviour and how you perceive yourself, others and the world. CBT has been shown to be effective in dealing with anxiety because it helps you to change those negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and projections on a subject matter or circumstance and help you to learn more effective ways of dealing with your anxiety. This approach uses sound techniques to slow down, halt and eliminate your own learned reactions. Ultimately, CBT deals with those circumstances and events that you’re aware of, rather than dealing with circumstances and events relating to your unconscious. Through a sound therapeutic process, you’ll learn to respond differently to issues and circumstances, and you’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a treatment method that’s similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but emphasizes building skills to manage stress, mental health issues, and the psycho-social aspects of relationship building. There is some indication that certain individuals are more prone to react intensely to unexpected relationship or emotional situations. Many of these situations tend to be related to family or friend relationships. Part of the theory underlying DBT is that certain individual’s levels of psychological arousal fluctuate or increase significantly more quickly than others, and have an overall higher level of emotional stimulation, which tends to take a larger amount of time to return to general baseline levels where they can remain calm and more grounded. DBT works with these issues and looks at improving interpersonal effectiveness, expanding awareness and mindfulness, aiding in emotional regulation and improving distress tolerance skills.
  • Mindfulness therapy combines cognitive behaviour therapy with meditation techniques. It was originally used to treat depression, it has shown to be effective in the treatment of other conditions as well. Clients use mindfulness techniques to interrupt thoughts and automatic body processes (sleep disturbances, for example). This type of therapy helps clients to see that their thoughts can become their reality and they are taught how to disengage from negative thoughts and thought patterns.
  • Reality therapy Reality therapy generally believes that individuals choose their behaviour and as a result, are responsible for not only what they are doing, but also how they think and feel. The ultimate goal of reality therapy is to provide the necessary support of conditions to help clients develop the psychological strength to evaluate their own behaviour and acquire more effective behaviour on the under the umbrella of a warm, accepting counselling environment. One of the key important beliefs is that our behaviour is not caused by the environmental factors, but rather by our internal forces and choice, ultimately leading to the key focus of accountability within ourselves.
  • Solution focused therapy views people as inherently strong and resilient, and capable of creating change and discovering solutions to their everyday problems. People are thought to know what they want and need in life and are experts in their own lives. Solution-focused therapy views problems as normal life-cycle complications that become overwhelming for people and seem to be always happening. Although it’s important to clarify the problem, solution-focused therapists do not think it is necessary to know what caused the problem to find solutions or to make things better.

What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?

You can find a way to turn your destructive thoughts and behaviours around. You will learn to deal with the anxiety, your heightened emotions and the social avoidance that comes with some of these disorders.

We have several therapists who specialize, or have experience in, all of the personality disorders listed above. Please contact us to learn which therapist would be a great fit for you and your unique circumstances.