This New Dawn

Laurel Hall Author and PoetLooking at notes people have left me, they want to know what personality disorders are.  So here it is.  It is rather long, but should explain it well.  I have taken this section out of my book “BETRAYED” , The Aftermath of Child Abuse”

                                        PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Few people realize how serious personality disorders can be and how they can affect decision-making. This post provides a brief overview of some of the more common personality disorders. For more information, I suggest you visit the sources listed at the end of the book.

An individual’s personality is defined by how he interacts with society, his self-esteem, his adherence to social norms, and his ability to maintain a healthy relationship with others. Personality disorders are mental illnesses, and people suffering from them may have problems relating to others or to certain situations. Some may not even realize they have a condition, because the way they think and the things they do seem natural to them. Often, a person with a personality disorder convinces himself that others are creating problems in his life and that the problem does not lie with him. Depending on the disorder, sufferers may be inflexible in their thinking, adamant in what they believe, and have difficulty fitting in with society in general. Their actions are often abnormal, and their daily lives (private and public) can be a constant struggle. Children do not reach mental maturity until their late teen years or early adulthood, and as a result, such illnesses are usually not discovered until adolescence or in early adulthood.

Personality disorders are sometimes divided into three groups, so categorized by their differences and their similarities. The first group includes disorders that affect those whom society might consider “odd” or “eccentric.” People who suffer from the mental illnesses in this group tend towards paranoia (that is, they are often groundlessly suspicions of others or of authority), or they may be schizoid (excessively solitary and disinterested in others), or schizotypal (bizarre in either behavior or thought, or both).

The second group is classified as those who suffer from “dramatic, emotional, or erratic” behavior and is subdivided into four categories. Antisocial Personality Disorder is one in which the individual doesn’t care about the rights of others or the rules of society. Borderline Personality Disorder is typified by an individual who is unable to maintain an established relationship with others and is extreme in thought and behavior. Histrionic Disorder leads to flamboyant, grandiose and “over the top” actions and personalities. Sufferers are melodramatic, theatrical attention-seekers (particularly in a seductive manner) and are often misfits in general society. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a term used to describe an individual who has no compassion or empathy for others, is self-absorbed, vain, egotistical, and selfish, and who wants others to take notice of him or her.

The third group is classified as “anxious or fearful” disorders. It is further divided into three groups. A person suffering Avoidant Personality Disorder is often apprehensive, uneasy, has poor self-esteem, and is very sensitive to criticism. Those with Dependent Personality Disorder may be emotionally needy and psychologically reliant on others. Sufferers of Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder may show a strict obedience to rules, moral codes and order, or have a fixation or neurotic preoccupation with certain actions, orders of tasks, or with security.

The exact cause of personality disorders is unknown, but behavioral psychologists believe that such illnesses begin in childhood and can last a lifetime. Certain forces in childhood seem to strengthen the possibility of developing personality disorders. Possible causes might include a family history of mental illness, financial difficulties, abuse or neglect as a child, death of a parent, or a stressful divorce during childhood. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicidal behavior, problems in school, and difficulty maintaining relationships can be symptomatic of personality disorders.

The main treatment for personality disorders is psychotherapy, although in some cases, medication and hospitalization might also be required.

Caring for victims

Laurel Hall