What is Personality Disorder?


The term ‘personality’ makes us the individuals that we are. This refers to a person’s pattern of thoughts, feelings and behavior. Individuals usually have a fairly predictable behavior or pattern but an individual’s personality is not constant in a way that it depends on the situation that we are in, the people that we are with and many other circumstances. A person would tend to have a set response to a certain situation based on how they reacted in a previous experience.

What is Personality Disorder

Yet most of the time, people have a tendency to behave in easily predictable patterns. Each individual has a set of these patterns, and thus this then makes up an individual’s personality. Generally, an individual’s personality doesn’t change yet it develops as the individual goes through different life experiences and as the circumstances of the individual change. An individual matures as time progress, along with the individual’s thinking, feelings and behavior all changing. A mentally healthy individual is flexible enough to learn from their past experiences and change their behavior to handle the situation and to live their lives more effectively.

Conversely, if a person has a personality disorder, they are likely to have difficulty in coping and adapting. These individual’s ways of thinking, feeling and behaving are more difficult to change making it difficult for them to adapt to life situations. Individuals with personality disorders have a narrower range of emotions, thinking and attitude making it difficult for them and the people around them. These individuals believe that their attitude and thinking are different from other people.

They may find your attitude and behavior uncommon or unusual, thus they would find it hard to be with you. This type of reaction towards individuals with personality disorders would make them feel very insecure and unhappy, having no sense of belonging anywhere. These individuals would feel as if they have no place in society, as if an outcast in a community where they deserve nothing. These individuals would eventually lose confidence in themselves and these feelings would make them avoid the company of other people. 

Common signs and symptoms of personality disorders include easily being overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, anger, worthlessness or distress; periodical moments of losing contact with reality; feelings of emotional disconnection; avoidance of other people; feelings of emptiness; the need for self-harming, like drug and alcohol abuse, when having difficulty in managing negative feelings; struggling to maintain a stable and close relationships; rare cases of threatening other people. These would typically be aggravated with stress. These disorders usually arise in adolescence and then carry on into adulthood. It may be associated with genetic factors, family background, and past experiences. Childhood experiences of neglect or abuse are common.

There are several types of personality disorders that are currently being recognized. These have been grouped into one of the three clusters- A, B or C. A person who has a cluster A personality disorder usually has difficulty connecting to others and would have patterns of behavior that most other people would believe as eccentric and unusual. They would sometimes be seen as living in their own fantasy world. For a person with cluster B personality disorder, they would  have difficulties in regulating their feelings. They would often jump between positive and negative views of other people. They can be seen as overly dramatic, unpredictable and alarming. Individuals with cluster C personality disorders struggle with tireless and overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. These individuals may behave in a way seen by others as antisocial and withdrawn.

Many people recover from these disorders over time and with constant therapy and support. There are many different approaches on how to help a person with personality disorder. There is no single approach that would suit everyone with personality disorder. Treatments should be individualized for every person and it is necessary that they are seen by trained therapists.