What is an abnormal personality, that is, a personality disorder?

In the first place, it is important to know that in psychology the concept of abnormality is not so related to statistical terms but to subjective discomfort and the deterioration of the main areas of the individual , which hinders their social adaptation, a reason that usually leads the person to seek psychological treatment.

It should be noted that personality disorders usually begin to manifest during late adolescence or early adulthood (although there may be signs during childhood), such that:

“Although its origin is insidious, the disorder is persistent and causes suffering in the person.”

In this sense, it is important to note that symptoms may decrease, not only with proper treatment, but with age (eg antisocial personality disorder), although there are some that hardly vary over time (eg obsessive-compulsive personality disorder).

How many people have personality disorders? What factors influence its development?

“It is estimated that about 10% of the general population and half of psychiatric patients have a personality disorder.”

In general, there are no differences regarding sex, socioeconomic status, or race. However, there are certain disorders that tend to occur more frequently in one sex (eg, antisocial personality disorder in men and borderline personality disorder in women).

Regarding the origin of the rigid and inflexible traits that make people dysfunctional by making it difficult for them to adapt in daily life , experts believe that it is due to a combination of genetics (it is estimated that the degree of heritability can reach 50%) and the environment (eg an abusive or unstable family life during childhood). In summary, one can have a genetic predisposition that makes him vulnerable, but there are also other situations that can influence when it comes to triggering the personality disorder.

Group A personality disorders: Rare or eccentric.

These types of personalities are characterized by having a strange or eccentric character, as they tend to isolate themselves from the environment. They also have strange ideas, beliefs and behaviors with respect to the rest of society, being suspicious of the intentions of others and expressing themselves in a less open and eccentric way. This group includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal disorders.

Paranoid Personality Disorder.

Detachment in personal relationships and little variety in the expression of emotions predominate in paranoid disorder . It is manifested by four or more of the following facts:

  • The person has inconsistent suspicions about the fidelity of his partner.

(1) – In paranoid disorder there is a lack of trust in the partner.

  • You have unfounded suspicions towards people , believing that others exploit, harm or disappoint you.

“This person is concerned about the loyalty and trust of friends . 

  • You are reluctant to trust out of an unreasonable fear that the information will be used against you .
  • You perceive innocent comments or normal situations such as insults or personal attacks.
  • Reacts in a hostile and angry way to insults and slights not appreciable by others.
  • Tends to hold a grudge .

Schizoid Personality Disorder.

The schizoid personality shows detachment in relationships and little variety in the expression of feelings. It is manifested by four or more of the following facts:

“He does not want to have relationships nor does he enjoy them, nor does he want to be part of a family.”

  • The person has no close friends or confidants, other than first-degree relatives.
  • Has no interest in having sex .
  • She is emotionally cold, detached or with flat affectivity. It has a limited emotional range .
  • Feel indifferent to the criticism and praise of others .
  • Prefers solitary activities .
  • Does not enjoy most activities .

Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

In this case, the person is characterized by having social deficiencies that are manifested by acute discomfort and the limited ability to maintain close relationships . In addition, these people have eccentric behavior and cognitive or perceptual distortions present in different contexts. It is manifested by five or more of the following facts:

  • She misinterprets casual incidents, attributing them to herself or believing that some casual events have hidden messages for her.
  • Is suspicious or has paranoid ideas .
  • His thinking and speech is strange (stereotyped, vague, metaphorical, very elaborate, etc.).
  • Has strange beliefs that influence their behavior (these beliefs do not match cultural norms). Believes that events or people can be influenced by thought , leading to superstitions, belief in telepathy, etc.

“This person behaves in a strange or eccentric way (eg clothing).”

  • May have infrequent perceptual experiences (eg, bodily illusions).
  • Has inappropriate or limited affect . Their response to others is often inappropriate or indifferent.
  • Shows excessive social anxiety associated with paranoid ideas rather than negative self-judgments, which does not diminish with familiarity.
  • He has no close friends or confidants beyond first-degree relatives.

Group B Personality Disorders: Dramatic, emotional, or erratic.

These personality disorders stand out for erratic and dramatic thoughts and behaviors, being excessively emotional and certainly unpredictable due to their sometimes explosive behavior.

(2) – Emotional personality disorder: explosive behavior

Antisocial personality disorder.

From the age of fifteen, the antisocial person shows their inattention and the violation of the rights of others (although they previously show this). It is manifested by three or more of the following facts:

  • This person violates social norms regarding legal behaviors (robberies, scams, violence, etc.).
  • Cheats repeatedly for personal gain or pleasure .

“These people have no regrets, so they feel indifferent or rationalize the theft or mistreatment committed.”

  • It is impulsive .
  • She is irritable and aggressive , so it is not uncommon for her to get into fights, get involved in aggressions, etc.
  • Shows constant irresponsibility , which is reflected in the workplace and in the neglect of financial obligations.
  • He is reckless with his own and others’ safety .

Borderline or borderline personality disorder .

In this disorder there is a dominant pattern of instability in personal relationships, self-image and affections, showing great impulsivity. It is manifested by five or more of the following facts:

  • The person makes desperate efforts to avoid real or imagined helplessness .

“Their relationships are intense and unstable, characterized by the alternation between idealization and devaluation.”

  • Has a highly unstable self-image and sense of self , being somewhat persistent.
  • It has a chronic feeling of emptiness .
  • Shows a recurring attitude, behavior, or threat of suicide or self-harm.
  • Shows impulsivity in two or more potentially self-injurious areas (eg, uncontrolled spending, unprotected sex, binge eating, drugs, reckless driving).
  • It is characterized by affective instability due to marked reactivity of mood (eg, irritability or anxiety lasting several hours or, rarely, days).
  • Your anger is inappropriate and intense , or you have difficulty controlling anger (eg constant anger, recurring physical fights).
  • Has transient stress-related paranoid ideas or severe dissociative symptoms.

Histrionic personality disorder.

It is a person with excessive emotionality and who constantly seeks to attract the attention of others . This personality is manifested by five or more of the following facts:

  • She is uncomfortable in situations where she is not the center of attention.

“Behaves in a sexually seductive or provocative manner . 

  • Use their physical appearance to attract attention.
  • Consider relationships closer than they are .
  • He behaves theatrically and has an exaggerated expression of emotion.
  • It presents rapid changes and flat expression of emotions, that is, it has shallow emotions that change quickly .
  • It is highly suggestible , as it is easily influenced.
  • His speaking style is strong and impression-based , lacking in detail and with few facts to back up his opinions.

Narcissistic personality disorder.

The narcissistic person is characterized by a feeling of greatness, requiring admiration and showing little or no empathy towards others. It is manifested by five or more of the following facts:

  • The person has feelings of greatness and arrogance, which leads him to exaggerate his own achievements and talents in order to be recognized as superior.
  • You have an inordinate need for admiration and expect to receive constant praise.

(3) – Narcissistic personality disorder: Need for recognition

  • You have fantasies of success , power, brilliance, beauty, and ideal love.

“It is believed unique and that it can only be related to other special people or with a high status.”

  • Is arrogant, having unreasonable expectations of advantages.
  • He envies others or believes that others envy him.
  • He uses others to achieve his own ends .
  • Lacks empathy, not recognizing or identifying the feelings of others.

Group C personality disorders: Anxious or fearful.

These people are characterized by having anxious and inhibited thoughts and behaviors due to constant fear of the consequences of their actions, so they opt for excess control as a way to alleviate their fears.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

The predominant pattern in this disorder is social inhibition due to feelings of incompetence and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation . It is manifested by four or more of the following facts:

  • Avoid professional activities that involve social contact for fear of criticism and rejection.
  • She is withdrawn in close relationships for fear of being embarrassed or ridiculed .

“She only establishes relationships with others when she is sure that she will be appreciated.”

  • You worry about being criticized or rejected in social situations.
  • You feel socially inept, unpleasant, or inferior to the rest .
  • It is inhibited in new interactions due to its lack of adaptation.
  • She is reluctant to associate with strangers and to engage in new activities that can be embarrassing.

Dependent personality disorder.

This person has an excessive need to be cared for, which generates a submissive behavior and an exaggerated attachment for fear of separation. It is manifested by five or more of the following facts:

  • It is difficult for her to make everyday decisions without being overly advised and reassured by others.
  • You need others to take responsibility in almost every important area of ​​your life.
  • She shows difficulties starting projects or doing things on her own due to a lack of confidence in her own abilities (not a lack of motivation).
  • Feeling of discomfort or helplessness in situations of loneliness for fear of being unable to take care of herself.
  • Permission to abusive or inappropriate treatment , voluntarily doing things that you dislike to obtain the approval of the other.
  • You have a hard time expressing your disagreement with others for fear of losing their approval.

“This person has an urgent need to start a relationship when another has just ended . 

  • Unrealistic worry for fear of having to take care of herself .

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

In general, it is a person with a great concern for order, with great perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control. This pattern can be maintained at the cost of flexibility, frankness, and efficiency. It is manifested by four or more of the following facts:

(4) – Obsessive personality disorder: Excessively concerned with order.

  • He is excessively concerned with details , order and rules, and may even neglect the main objective of the activity.

“His extreme perfectionism habitually interferes with the accomplishment of tasks . 

  • His dedication to work is excessive, so he sacrifices leisure activities and friends even without a clear financial need.
  • It is the inability to delegate, except when people submit to its strict standards .
  • He shows great rigidity and obstinacy, also in what refers to morality, ethics and values ​​( excessive scruples that are not explained by a cultural or religious identification).
  • Avara of herself and others, accumulating money for future catastrophes .
  • He is unable to dispose of damaged or useless objects of no sentimental value.

In summary, personality disorders cause the deterioration of the main areas of the individual and hinder their social adaptation, so it is advisable to seek appropriate psychological treatment.

Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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