Within the mental health community, personality disorders are defined as a set of mental illnesses involving long-term behaviours and thoughts that are rigid and unhealthy.
Psychiatrists believe personality disorder (PD) to be an innate pattern of behaviour that is specified in the way it develops (comparable to other mental health disorders that often develop for a multitude of different reasons).
The type of behaviour observed in those suffering from PD often diverges from social norms and that which is deemed ‘socially acceptable’ and can cause severe impairment on a person’s interpersonal relationships and social standing.
Since many of the personality disorders are ego-syntonic (meaning that they are reflective of a person’s self-concept or ‘idea of self’), they often present many treatment challenges for mental health professionals.
Essentially, an individual’s desire to change a behaviour that causes upset to others is usually met with disdain.
Fortunately, since the development of applied therapeutic techniques, mental health professionals are noticing much more positive outcomes for those suffering from a personality disorder with research suggesting that positive change is possible.
Broadly, a personality disorder is a long-term series of inclinations in one’s thinking and behaviour that significantly impacts their social functioning. Depending on the type of PD, a person’s personality traits (including any extreme traits) are often reflected or heightened.
Personality disorders are grouped into three main clusters, with each having an individualised set of diagnostic criteria.
They include: emotional and impulsive, anxious, and suspicious.
The ten personality disorder types are:
This group of disorders often feature bizarre or overly eccentric thinking styles and behaviour patterns which include: distrust, strange or unusual belief systems, and social unattachment.
The behaviour for those belonging to this cluster often involves emotional dysregulation, impulsive behaviour, and hostility and/or manipulation towards other people.
Cluster C personality disorders include anxiety and fear-induced thinking styles.
Studies show that personality disorders usually develop because of:
Other studies show that malfunctioning genes may also contribute to the development of personality disorders, particularly when it comes to Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder.
Personality disorders often develop as a way of coping with disturbing life experiences; if someone was neglected or abused in any way, for example, they might adopt a personality disorder to cope with the situation.
Essentially, one doesn’t just ‘develop’ a personality disorder; they emerge over long periods.
Those with a likelihood of developing a personality disorder include:
Due to the severe nature of personality disorders, it is often the case that complications can arise.
Personality disorders can lead to issues at work, home or school; they can also result in the development of poor relationships, social withdrawal, and addiction problems.
As mentioned earlier, it can often be challenging for mental health professionals to treat patients who are diagnosed with a personality disorder – since the disorder affects those whose perception of ‘self’ can be somewhat distorted or obscure.
Most individuals with a personality disorder tend to be in denial and refuse to believe that they have a condition at all.
Although the disorder must be treated for the symptoms to be overcome. For those willing to accept treatment for personality disorder, there is a wide range of therapies available. They include:
Talk therapies, such as psychotherapy and counselling are also very effective in treating a wide range of personality disorders as it encourages an individual to talk through their feelings, thoughts, and behaviours in a safe and trusting environment.
Residential inpatient personality disorder programs are extremely effective, particularly in chronic cases. For instance, those with Borderline personality disorders, find residential treatment programs very effective as it allows them to receive the support they need when it comes to regulating any behaviours and emotions that might be unpleasant.
Medications often prescribed to those suffering from personality disorder include:
According to statistics, around 10 per cent of outpatient rehabilitation admissions involve some form of Borderline personality disorder, and approximately 42.4 per cent of patients who have been diagnosed with a personality disorder are receiving treatment.
This suggests that inhouse rehabilitation programs are extremely effective when it comes to treating the various types of personality disorders.
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Posted on September 24th, 2020 by Giles Fourie