Personality Disorders

Please view the post, ‘Personality’ for a definition and discussion on development of a personality. This also includes a brief outline of the clusters that personality disorders are grouped into. Personality disorders are also used as classifiers with depression.

There are many types of personality disorders and to simplify things, they are grouped into three clusters: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A disorders are characterized by odd and eccentric behavior or thinking. These disorders include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

  • Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of trust and suspicion of others, unjustified belief that others are ‘out to get you’, hesitancy to confide in others, angry or hostile reactions and a tendency to hold grudges. The essential feature for paranoid disorder is interpreting the actions of others as threatening or demeaning. This type of person may appear jealous, secretive and emotionally ‘cold’.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of interest in social or personal relationships, a preference to be alone, a limited range of emotional expression, inability to have pleasure in activities, and inability to pick up on normal social cues. The essential feature for schizoid disorder is appearing introverted, withdrawn, and distant. This type of person is often absorbed in their own thoughts and fears closeness with others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs or behaviors, odd perceptual experiences, flat emotions, “magical thinking”, and the belief that casual incidents or events have hidden messages. The essential feature for schizotypal disorder is a pattern of peculiarities. This type of person has difficulty forming relationships and may act inappropriately during social interactions.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior. These disorders include borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.

  • Borderline personality disorder is characterized by impulsive and risky behaviors, unstable self-image and self-esteem, up and down moods, intense fear of abandonment, ongoing feelings of emptiness and intense displays of anger. The essential feature for borderline disorder is abrupt and extreme mood changes and self-destructive actions. This type of person is impulsive, self-destructive, socially dependent and have a difficulty with their sense of identity. This disorder is often misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.
  • Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a disregard for other’s needs or feelings, persistent lying and stealing, recurring problems with the law, aggressive behavior and lack of remorse for behavior. The essential feature for antisocial disorder involves ignoring social norms while acting out their conflicts, no respect for others and no remorse for their actions. They are at a higher risk for substance abuse because of their behaviors.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by fantasies of power, success and attractiveness, failure to recognize other’s needs and feelings, exaggeration of achievements or talents, arrogance, and expectation of constant praise and admiration. The essential feature for narcissistic disorder involves having an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a constant need for attention. This type of person is over sensitive to failure and prove to extreme mood swings between self-admiration and insecurity.

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Cluster C disorders are characterized by anxious, and fearful behavior or thinking. These disorders include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

  • Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by sensitivity to criticism or rejection, feelings of inadequacy, inferiority or unattractiveness, avoidance of interpersonal contact, social inhibition and fear of disapproval, embarrassment or ridicule. The essential feature for avoidant disorder is excessive social discomfort. This type of person usually has no close relationships, although they would like to and are upset at their inability to relate well to others.
  • Dependent personality disorder is characterized by excessive dependence on others and the need to be taken care of, submissive or clingy behavior, fear of fending for yourself, lack of self-confidence, difficulty disagreeing with others and tolerance of poor or abusive treatment. The essential feature is a pattern of submissive and dependent behavior, rely on others to make decisions. This type of person is usually uncomfortable and helpless if they are alone and can be devastated if a relationship ends.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by a preoccupation with details, orderliness and rules, extreme perfectionism, a desire to be in control, excessive commitment to work and an inability to discard broken or worthless objects.The essential feature for  obsessive-compulsive disorder is a striving for perfection and rare satisfaction with their achievements. This type of person is reliable, dependable and methodical, but inflexible to change. They are highly cautious and pay specific attention to detail.

This is just a brief summary of a few of the more typical personality disorders. Although you may identify with the traits of various disorders, a doctor would need to decide whether or not you should be diagnosed with it. Every person can identify with various aspects of personality disorders because no one person’s personality is perfect. We’re all different and that’s ok.

  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. Mental Health America
  3. American Psychological Association
  4. US National Library of Medicine
  5. Psychology Today

Personality

Personality is a very fluid idea. Often times, our actions or reactions are blamed on our personality. “That’s just how they are.” But personality is actually developed through the situations and environments we experience during adolescence. Our personality is affected by our temperament and our character. The APA defines personality as, “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving”. Personality can also be defined as a set of traits or characteristics that uniquely influence a person’s behaviors and thoughts is various situations.

Personality evolves over time. It does not remain stagnant. Our behaviors and traits are influenced by our life experiences and relationships. Personality traits are also reinforced by our experiences. In many ways an unhealthy personality trait can be reaffirmed when a life event doesn’t go as planned. However, in this way you may also be committing a self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is when a person unintentionally and/or unconsciously fulfills a preconceived notion or idea, whether it be positive or negative. The only experience I have ever had with self-fulfilling prophecies have been negative.

There are also illnesses regarding personality. These of course, would be considered personality disorders. A person can have certain individual traits of a disorder without having the disorder. A personality disorder is defined as “a pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are consistently exhibited over a long period of time and create emotional and mental distress”. Personality disorders exist on a continuum from mild to severe, but left untreated it can reduce a person’s quality of life. Personality disorders can also be considered ‘fatal flaws’.

Personality disorders are grouped into three clusters based on their similarities and symptoms. Cluster A disorders are considered odd or eccentric behavior. This would include schizoid or paranoid personalities. Cluster B disorders are dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. This would include narcissistic or histrionic personalities. Cluster C disorders are considered anxious and fearful behavior. This would include avoidant, dependent or OCD personalities.

In the next post I will be discussing the various personality disorders within their clusters, their traits and how they are diagnosed. Please remember that even if you display some of these traits, that does not mean that you have a personality disorder. No one is perfect.

  1. American Psychological Association
  2. Mind for Better Mental Health

The Ups and Downs of One Day

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I decided to go hiking. I knew of a pretty spot near a popular local tourist location that was just enough off track to be good for a quiet hike and picnic. We started out early, with our picnic, blankets and drinks, excited to spend the day together and in relative peace and quiet.

We parked and hiked down to the first waterfall. The trail followed the river and was gorgeous, but you were guaranteed to get slightly wet. We rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and started right in. We were having a blast. There was no one there, it was a wonderful day and we were excited to explore the area.

Things continued on nicely until we got to a fork. The path wasn’t very well marked but we could see another couple across the river so we thought that was the way to go. Unfortunately the only way to cross was a couple of tree branches that were clogging the riverbend. I decided to forge ahead. I was doing really well until 3/4 of the way across when I lost my balance and fell in, butt first. I felt like I struggled to for minutes to get out but my BF said it was probably only 30 seconds.

When my BF walked across and joined me, we decided to take a break for a few minutes. I was soaking wet from the butt down and was feeling rather shaky. As soon as we pulled out a blanket, I sat down and pulled out my phone. I immediately felt like crying. It worked, but the screen had been shattered. My BF sat down next to me and we just sat and talked for awhile. For me, this had definitely put a damper on my nice day. Now, I was worried about money and paying for at least a screen repair if not a completely new phone.

The rest of the day spent hiking went very well. And when we got home I showered and started a load of laundry. Then we started on our errands which now included a phone repair. After stopping at the local store, they said I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade but to check out a kiosk at the local mall for screen repair. After talking to the guy at the screen repair kiosk, I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving my phone with him or even having him find me a new phone, all of which would cost more than I spent to buy the phone in the first place.

My BF, being the resourceful guy that he is, looked up the price of my old phone at a local Target. Needing to run other errands as well, we headed to Target where we ran into the local business representative for my phone company. Talking to her for even a couple of minutes, she gave us advice to go to walmart where my old phone would cost $40 or the upgrade would be $70. She also gave me advice for the auto-pay setup and perks.

I ended up spending the extra $30 for the upgrade which was still cheaper than when I originally bought my old phone. We ended the day with a visit to my parent’s house and a fabulous spaghetti dinner.

In this one day, I experienced an emotional rollercoaster. My emotions and moods ranged from up to down so quickly it was almost difficult to follow and I’m sure it was difficult for my BF to watch. He handled it like a pro though, and was extremely supportive of me and the entire day. I’m extremely glad that I had him with me. All in all, I’m determined to look at it as a good day because I got a new phone, and I got to spend quality time with my BF. Also, I’ve decided that the next time I go hiking, I’m going to leave my phone in the car.

As Planned

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 2

Week 2, Day 1:
I’ve been feeling better for the last couple of days. I need to write more on those days so that everyone understands that depression is up and down. I want to share more of my up days because not everything is down.
I’m scheduled to talk at 2 churches so far this coming month. (May is mental health awareness month.) It’s a little nerve racking, but I’m hoping to speak to another pastor at a local church about speaking to his congregation as well. And I’ve already spoken to a pastor at a larger church and she has all kinds of ideas of where I could speak. She saw me once before when the depression first began and she says she sees a huge improvement.
I’m nervous about my next therapist appointment. I don’t know if it’s going to work out, but I’m thinking I’m doing well enough that I would need to see someone once a week. It’s possible that during winter two times a week would be better because the winter is so hard on me.

Day 2:
The therapist session went really well. I think she’s really going to be able to help me with my issues and help me get to a point when I don’t have to see a therapist weekly. I really felt like there was a connection and that she’s going to be very beneficial for me. She’s going to be the assistant to my mechanic while working on my mind.
I’m really starting to look forward to the future, something I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m still going to have my struggles but for today, things are looking up!!

Day 3:
Today was filled with ups and downs. I went hiking with my BF. Please click here to read about my day.

Day 7:
I’ve been feeling uninspired with my writing lately. It’s not flowing like it used to and I’m frustrated with it. Maybe part of the problem is that I’m writing mostly scientific and informational posts. Posts that are meant to educate but if I’m feeling uninspired writing them, who is going to want to read them?
I think I’m also feeling frustrated that things aren’t moving faster along. I feel like I’m plodding through each today and it’s a struggle. I want to be happy, but at the moment all I can do is find those bits of happy moments that occur day to day and add them together. Will I ever be fully happy? Am I meant to be happy?

Day 8:
I got taken off of all my meds today. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Of course, we weren’t sure if they were working and I was feeling better while only sporadically taking them so perhaps this is for the best. I don’t like having to rely on drugs anyway.
I had a good session in therapy but we really just talked about my week. I think we’re still trying to get the lay of the land. I know that I do want to work on self-validation, so it’s something I’m going to bring up in my next session.

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Friends

When I was little, I didn’t have very many friends. I usually had the one requisite best friend and that is who I would hang out with. For some reason though, eventually this best friend would move and I would spend time in limbo before finding a new friend. This happened many times from 1st grade all the way through high school.

I was always on the fringe of any groups. Now that I’m older, I feel like I spent my childhood chasing after the other kids on the playground. I would invite girls to my birthday parties and they would attend but I wasn’t always include in outside events. As we got older, it became even more apparent to me that I didn’t belong.

My middle school years, 5th and 6th grade, I felt like even more of an outsider. In 5th grade, I became the teacher’s pet just so I could go back to my classroom instead of going out to recess. The few times I remember going to recess, I recall sitting in front of an old tree stump that was disintegrating and picking at it, watching all of the other kids. I tried joining in a couple of times but I honestly felt like I wasn’t wanted.

By high school the differences were even more pronounced. I wasn’t into fashion and I wasn’t ‘boy-crazy’. I was a musical nerd who enjoyed her classes and joined every extracurricular choral group possible. After I turned 16, I got a job but I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Looking back at pictures of myself from high school, I feel like I’m on the edges; on the outside looking in.

I’ve felt this way my entire life. I’ve often been told it’s because I’m more mature than others my age or that I ‘had an old soul’. But while that is great advice, as a kid, I just wanted to fit in. I just wanted to be part of the group; to feel wanted and involved.

Today, I don’t have many friends, but I cherish the ones I do. They are important to me because I know how much it sucks to not be  invited or to be forgotten or ignored. I want my friends to know that I appreciate that they are willing to be there for me, especially on days when my depression attempts to get the best of me. My friends are my support and for that, I thank them.

Change: A Personal Perspective

If change was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

This is the tagline for my future non-profit, ADAPT. I feel that change and adapt are synonymous because to make a change, you have to adapt. Whether it’s adapting your behaviors, your emotions, or your way of thinking, adapting is a part of change.

Change isn’t easy. I’ve found that it’s difficult to change behaviors and ways of thinking that have taken years to develop. I have to be mindful. I have to actively maintain new behaviors and put effort into the changes I need or want to make. Sometimes, I feel like this effort could be better spent. Why put effort into something when you’re not sure of the outcome? It might not come to anything. It could be a waste of time and energy. But if I’m going to ‘what if’ the negatives, I would benefit more from also ‘what ifing’ the positives. I consider this to be one of the changes I’m making to my life. So, what if the change does work? What if this change makes the difference in my life?

My depression causes me to think negatively and because of this, I have grown accustomed to thinking of worst case scenarios. So I’m trying to change and at least make the effort to think more positively, or at least not as negatively. Change has to be taken in steps. You can’t automatically convince yourself to think differently.

I am struggling with change. My depression is an old friend and I know exactly what to expect from it, but if I don’t change, I will never be happy. And I want to be happy; everyone deserves to be happy, don’t they? In this situation, change is the only way to achieve happiness. So I will change. I will take those steps forwards and backwards, and I will start all over again if I have to. Change isn’t easy, but it can be worth it to change bad habits and become a better person.

Discovering Yourself

Change: A Clinical Definition

“There’s a difference between wanting to change because you hate yourself & wanting to change because you love yourself.” – Anonymous

According to psychology, there are 6 steps to change. These steps will help make change a less arduous process and open you up to possible new behaviors and habits that are currently holding you back. Please remember, it is normal & natural to regress, to attain one stage only to fall back to a previous stage. “No one can force a person to change their behavior, lifestyle, mentality, attitude, etc. The individual must be ready for change” – Psychology.tools

The first step is precontemplation. Here you have not yet acknowledged that there is a problem. At this point, you are in denial and will defend your current bad habit or behavior. You have no intention of changing this habit or behavior because you do not see a problem.

The second step is contemplation. Here you are acknowledging that there is a problem but you don’t know if you want or are ready to change. You are aware that a problem exists with your current behavior or habit, however you are ambivalent and have no commitment to making a change. You do spend time thinking about the problem, trying to determine if change is needed.

The third step is preparation or determination. You are getting ready to change and have an intention to take action. This is also known as the research phase because you are gathering information on how to make the needed change. This step is often skipped and leads the person to fail at their initial attempt to change because they haven’t accepted that it will be a change that will affect their lifestyle.

The four step is action. This involves the willpower to actively modify the behavior or habit. You have to have a belief in your ability to change and be actively involved by using different techniques and putting effort into the change. It is in the phase that people are at the greatest risk for relapse however they are also more open to receiving help and support from others.

The fifth step involves maintenance. Here you have to avoid temptations to return to bad habits and you have to maintain the behavior or habit change. You need to remain aware of the situation, be patient with yourself and remain on track. By sustaining the change, the new habit or behavior will replace the old.

The sixth step is relapse. This is included because it is considered normal to experience at least one relapse in the course of the change. In a relapse, you return to the old behaviors or habits and abandon your changes by falling back into old patterns of behavior. Most importantly you have to remember that you didn’t fail. Instead look at your relapse as an opportunity for learning and becoming stronger. The process can be restarted again at any of the last three phases: Preparation, action or maintenance.

Eventually you will have maintained maintenance long enough to attain transcendence. Transcendence is when the former habit or behavior has now become atypical and abnormal. You will also be able to work with your emotions, view your behaviors in a new light and understand them.

Now that you know the steps to making changes? What is it you would like to change in your life? The following is a prompt to inspire change.

“Things I Want to Change”

  • Two things I want to change about myself…
  • Two things I like about myself and don’t want to change are…
  • The most important change I’ve made since __________ is…
  • A change that I’ve made since ____________ is …
  • If I try to change, I worry that…
  • A Change that I would like to make in myself but don’t think I can is…
  • The reason it is hard for me to change is…

Psychology Tools

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 1

Week 1; Day 1:
I’m still struggling to find a therapist. i feel better and don’t necessarily want to find someone new. It’s hard finding someone. I’ve gotten lonely and I clicked with my last three therapists but now that I’m feeling better, I don’t necessarily want to find a new one.
And I know that one of the reasons I’m feeling better is because of the new guy in my life. For some reason, he think’s I’m absolutely amazing and gorgeous. I don’t completely agree with him. I can be amazing but I definitely don’t think that I’m gorgeous. Of course, hearing all of these things is very good for my ego and self-esteem but I need to feel these things for myself. I can’t rely on someone else for how I feel about myself.

Day 2:
I had an interesting dream that left me waking up feeling hurt. I’ve posted about this dream and the emotions I experienced because of it here.
I need to remember that I can have preferences but not expectations.

Day 3:
I’m reading this ‘self-help’ book, which is a little ironic because I’ve never really liked self-help books. But I found these two quotes which I really related to.
“I feel like I must earn my self-esteem. I think I must be very ‘special’ or intelligent or successful to be loved and accepted by others” (p. 176, Burns)
“I am terrified by failure. If I do not achieve an important goal, i feel like a failure as a human being” (p. 176, Burns)

Day 5:
That awesome guy asked me out ‘officially’ last night. & I’m here at his concert tonight. On the drive up here, I realized that I’m scared. I’m what ifing the whole thing and I’m worried that I’m going to come out of this worse for the wear. Honestly, I feel like crying. I realize that I just have to live in the moment and let things happen the way they will.

Day 6:
I’m looking forward to the new bf coming out and staying the night. It’s exciting. I don’t know what he sees in me, but I’m glad he sees it. He makes me feel better about myself which is potentially a problem. I need to bring this up with my therapist, when I find a new one.

Day 7:
I’m struggling today. It was awesome spending time with the bf, it was also sad to see him go. I know I’ll get to see him again, but now I’m feeling lonely and alone and parts of me are thinking ‘what if I never hear from him again? Why would he ever want me?’ I know this is the IBSC talking and I really wish they would shut up but their illogic is sounding mighty logical to me right now. I hate my mind!!!

To My Boyfriend

To My Boyfriend:

I’m sorry. I know that it is difficult for you to understand my depression and what it can do to me. And I love that you want to understand and that you are making an effort to see past my depression to me. I don’t know what you see in me that you insist is so amazing and great and I might never see it but I’m glad that you do.

I love that you’re uplifting even when I’m at my worst. You refuse to let me begin my destructive circular thinking and you want me to succeed. You believe in me when I can’t.

You’re a good man. You have so much going for you and I often think that you can do so much better than a mess like me, but you insist that I’m the one who is out of your league.

I can be myself around you and not worry that you’re going to walk away. I miss you when we’re not together and I look forward to every time I get to see you. I’m looking forward to see what life has in-store for us. I’m hopeful, which is saying something for me.

I’m grateful that you’re there for me when I’m down and when I’m not. You’re a wonderful person, and I hope that we can grow together. Hopefully, one day I’ll be better and my good days will outnumber the bad. Until then, all I ask is patience.

Please understand that I am fighting. I want to get better and sometimes I can’t see that light at the end of the tunnel, but you say that it’s there and I’m willing to believe you. Hopefully we can reach that light together.

Thank you for everything you’ve done so far and everything that I’m sure you’re going to do. I appreciate it more than I can say. Thank you.

Acceptance

Acceptance is important in your life. It allows you to make peace with the your past and move forward with your life. The first step to acceptance is learning what acceptance is versus what it is not.

Acceptance is not forgiveness, forgetting, letting it go, being ok, denial, allowing it, agreeing with it or understanding.

Acceptance is making space, letting yourself off of the hook, especially from suffering and ‘It is what it is’.

There are 10 steps towards acceptance.

  1. Honor the full sweep of your emotions.
    1. Seek to fully feel your emotions and express those emotions that you feel. Understand your emotions, thoughts & embrace them as valuable feedback for your life.
  2. Give up your need for revenge but continue to seek a just resolution.
    1. Let go of your natural instinct to hurt back or take revenge from the person who hurt you. Revenge will give you a false sense of power over another, however this power is considered ‘cheap thrills’ & will ultimately hurt you more over time. Mindfully turn away from retaliation and look to empower, grow & strengthen yourself.
  3. Stop obsessing about the injury and re-engage with life.
    1. Gain awareness to stop & replace repetitive toxic thinking patterns which only cause ongoing distress, trauma and harm. You have to create a conscious awareness and be mindful.
  4. Protect yourself from further abuse.
    1. Accepting the wrongness of the actions allows you to learn how to distance and protect yourself in the future. Use the pain of the experience to learn & grow and take precautions to ensure your safety in the present and future. Make changes.
  5. Frame the offender’s behaviour in terms of their own problems and personal struggles
    1. Try to see things from the offender’s point of view. The wrongful actions are about the person who acted wrongly. “Their neediness to feel important by tearing others down”. The more you know about them and their situations, the more you won’t take their behavior personally. Never let another person’s actions dictate how you feel about yourself.
  6. Look honestly at your own contribution to the injury.
    1. Examine how your actions, approach & choices may have contributed to the situation.This is not about blaming yourself. Authentically examine your own life, self & issues to look at how your own fears, past experiences and beliefs, etc, prevented you from seeing that you deserved so much better. That you didn’t deserve to be hurt. Allow the pain of experience to teach you that you are more than a victim. The person who most needs your forgiveness is yourself.
  7. Challenge your false assumptions about what happened.
    1. Identify and challenge any limiting beliefs or false assumptions. Identify toxic or limiting patterns, and don’t edit or rationalize these ideas. Ask yourself, ‘Is it true? What toxic thinking pattern does it fall under? What limiting belief underlies this thinking? It is an empowering or a limiting belief?’ Is this typical of your thinking? If so, why? If not, why are you thinking in this manner?
  8. Look at the offender apart from his offense, weighing the good against the bad.
    1. Look at the person separate from their actions. Also look at the person & their behaviors for their impact on you and your life. Has their impact been mostly positive or negative?
  9. Decide carefully what kind of relationship you want in the future with the person who wronged you.
    1. How do you relate to this person overall? Is reconciliation possible? If not, is it possible to even interact with the person? Is forgiveness an option? Be gentle with yourself & take time to sort through your emotions. Learn to trust yourself and your feelings.
  10. Forgive yourself for your own failings.
    1. Fully forgive yourself for any of your own mistakes or failings related to the situation. As Maya Angelou has said, “When you know better, you do better”. Your mistakes or failings stem from ingrained old ways of getting your universally human need to matter met. Forgiving yourself will make it easier to let go of obsessive thinking patterns, such as blaming yourself for what happened, which would only keep you from living your life fully engaged with the people and activities you love.

Learning to accept situations, especially ones that are out of your control, will give you more control over your own life. Acceptance is not forgiveness but rather the willingness to allow yourself to learn from the experience rather than allowing the situation to continue to harm you.