Could an Odd Personality be Considered an Illness?

November 28, 2023

Could an Odd Personality be Considered an Illness?

People tend to place great emphasis on personality when interacting and forming relationships with others. When describing others, statements regarding their personalities such as “this person is refreshingly straightforward”, “they're good but their personality is not to my liking”, or “that person has such a temperament” are often at the forefront of the conversation. Interestingly enough, it's possible that a personality that significantly diverges from the norm could be classified as a disorder.

If a personality strays excessively from the normal range, it's likely a personality disorder. A personality disorder describes a situation in which an individual's persistent behavioral patterns and personality act as barriers to functioning normally in reality. For example, if an unfounded distrust and hostility towards others impedes forming interpersonal relationships or makes it difficult to work with colleagues, it may be classified as a personality disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), utilized by mental health professionals worldwide as a standard for the diagnosis of mental disorders, there are ten types of personality disorders. This blog post will explore the five most common personality disorders.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Recently, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has been gaining attention through various media outlets including TV shows and news articles. This disorder is commonly characterized by the following features:

  • Severe fear of abandonment
  • Obsessions with relationships with others
  • Extreme anger when others seem to lose interest or appear to be leaving
  • Impulsive and extreme behavior.

BPD has the highest prevalence among personality disorders. According to statistics, between 0.5 to 5.9% of the general population may be affected by it. The term “borderline” might be confusing as it implies oscillating across a boundary line. Put into professional terms, individuals with BPD often waver between idealization and devaluation. For example, they may initiate a romantic relationship due to perceived ideal traits in their partner, but the relationship may quickly end when flaws are discovered. Although it may be easy to write this behavior off as simply odd, this disorder can be incredibly challenging for those affected by it. Self-harm and suicidal attempts are commonly associated with BPD, and individuals diagnosed with this disorder face a risk of suicide that is approximately 40 times higher than that of the general population. It is more commonly observed in women than in men.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which has a lifetime prevalence of approximately 1%, is characterized by:

  • Infinite desire for success
  • Efforts to attract admiration and attention from others
  • Lack of empathy in relationships, demonstrating a self-centered attitude in all matters
  • Over-confidence in their personal skills which leads to dissatisfaction and disappointment even after achieving their goals
  • Desires to be admired by others, focusing more on outward appearance than inner feelings
  • Inability to accept criticism directed at oneself.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is known to be chronic and fairly difficult to treat. Moreover, many sufferers don't recognize their own symptoms until middle-age.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

This was commonly referred to as 'sociopathy' or 'psychopathy' in the past. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder show the following features:

  • Lack of empathy towards societal norms
  • Ignoring and infringing upon the rights of others for personal gain
  • Engaging in unlawful activities or causing harm to others
  • Lack of guilt for their erroneous behavior and inability to empathize with the wrongness of their actions
  • Remaining unemotional and detached in a situation that would normally evoke sadness.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is more common in men than in women.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder often presents quite dramatically, which is why it is also referred to as 'theatrical' personality disorder. Those with Histrionic Personality Disorder display the following attributes:

  • Dramatic reactions, akin to acting
  • Unstable, exaggerated emotions and impulsive tendencies
  • Excessive desire to be the center of attention
  • Resorting to dramatic actions when attention is not received.

These tendencies can manifest as attempts to attract attention through sexual appeal, often characterized by sexual promiscuity and dissatisfaction with sexual relationships. Histrionic Personality Disorder is more common in women, but in men, it can manifest as an excessive preoccupation with appearance or efforts to seduce the opposite sex.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Those with Dependent Personality Disorder often struggle to live independently, typically exhibiting the following characteristics:

  • Excessive reliance on or need for protection from others
  • Difficulty in making everyday decisions without the input of others
  • Anxiety or depression driven by an exaggerated fear of not being able to cope with tasks when alone
  • Willingness to endure discomfort or hardship to gain support and care from others.

These individuals often fear losing support and compliments from others. Consequently, they quickly seek replacement relationships when one ends.

Other known personality disorders include paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, avoidant, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. On reviewing the attributes of personality disorders, some typical content might seem quite relatable, however, not everyone with these traits has a personality disorder, so there's no need to worry. In cases of personality disorders, they often experience difficulties in their daily lives due to these issues. Various psychotherapies or cognitive therapies are conducted for individuals with personality disorders. Techniques such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Schema Therapy are commonly used. While it usually takes a long time, small improvements can surely be made in dealing with these issues. If you're experiencing difficulties, it's essential to seek appropriate help.

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