A diagnosis of a personality disorder may be given when a person shows significant differences in the ways they think, feel and understand and relate to others compared to how most other people do. It’s a controversial diagnosis, as it suggests that a person’s personality is somehow ‘wrong’. As our personalities are the absolute core of who we are, this can obviously be insulting and an indication that experiences and feelings are not valid. There is probably more stigma attached to receiving a diagnosis of personality disorder than any other diagnosis because it has often been associated with dangerousness and violence in the media.
Some people however, find this diagnosis helpful in understanding their distress. They might feel that the diagnosis helps them to seek out useful information and sources of support.
It’s also a disputed diagnosis as there are thought to be so many different ‘types’ of personality disorder, and all of us will experience some aspects of these at different times in life.
Behaviour that other people perceive as ‘odd’ or ‘eccentric’.
Paranoid personality disorder – being extremely distrustful and suspicious of other people, even close friends and family members.
Schizoid personality disorder – appearing to be very ‘cold’ and detached, avoiding social contact and having no interest in forming close relationships.
Schizotypal personality disorder – difficulties in social situations and having unusual beliefs such as believing their television is speaking to them.
Behaviour that other people perceive as dramatic, erratic or threatening.
Antisocial personality disorder – seeing other people as vulnerable and intimidating or bullying them without remorse. Sees no consequences of actions and feels no guilt.
Borderline personality disorder (emotionally unstable personality disorder) – impulsive, intense relationships with others, unable to control emotions.
Histrionic personality disorder – having an overwhelming need to be noticed and to be centre of attention. May dress provocatively or make dramatic statements.
Narcissistic personality disorder – beliefs of self-importance and superiority. Exploiting other people for personal gain.
Anxiousness and fearfulness.
Avoidant personality disorder – desiring close relationships but lacking the confidence and ability to form them.
Dependent personality disorder – feeling unable to be independent. May be very ‘clingy’ and struggle to make decisions, relying on others to make decisions for them.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (anankastic personality disorder) – may come across as a ‘control freak’. Perfectionism, rigid rules and sometimes seen as a workaholic.
Borderline (more commonly known as emotionally unstable) personality disorder appears to be the most commonly diagnosed.
For more information visit the BPD World website.