Personality includes individual characteristics and patterns of thinking, feeling, having emotions, and behaving. We form our relationships based on what we know about each other’s characteristics and patterns. Personality makes people predictable and allows them to decide about the shape and extent of their relations. All of our interests, beliefs, and choices are built upon our personalities.
What is personality?
What is a personality disorder?
Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses characterized by maladaptive, abnormal, and destructive personality patterns. However, to consider a behavior to be caused by a disorder, we must note that these patterns lead to severe problems in different aspects of one’s standard
and daily life. Daily life refers to all dimensions of personal, social, educational, and professional life. The behaviors arising from these disorders are considered abnormal in the eyes of the patient’s society and culture. These behaviors may establish psychological issues or even physical impairments to the patients or those around them. Almost all of these disorders lead to the patients’ distress. Still, it does not bring them to change their maladaptive patterns. It is due to inflexibility, which is one of the main signatures of personality disorders. In other words, patients suffering from these disorders do not want to change, and if they do, they may not be able to change. That is why treating personality disorders always requires the help of mental health professionals. In most cases, the treatment is a combination of both psychotherapy and medication.
Please note that everyone can experience symptoms of personality disorders to varying levels. We use the term “disorder” for the cases in which these patterns take a person’s life out of the ordinary. However, some people experience symptoms to a great extent, but not as severe as what is experienced in disorders. While these patterns still do some harm. Therefore, the patterns of thinking, feeling, having emotions, and behaving, at any level, disrupt the life and comfort of a person and the ones around him; it is necessary to seek the help of a psychotherapist.
What are the symptoms of each personality disorder?
The American Psychiatric Association classifies ten personality disorders into three clusters. Let’s take a brief look at the characteristics of these clusters and the most significant symptoms of each disorder.
Cluster A: This cluster includes disorders in which the personality patterns are strange and unusual in the eyes of others:
- Paranoid personality disorder: Patients with Paranoid personality disorder are always suspicious of others and their intentions. They have a doubtful and pessimist approach towards every act of others and do not trust them. This mistrusting occurs in all types of relationships; emotional, family, friendly and professional.
- Schizoid personality disorder: In schizoid disorder, the patient shows no interest in associating with others. It is much more different from arrogance and more severe than isolation in depression or introversion. The existence of others and their judgments are meaningless to the patient with schizophrenia.
- Schizotypal personality disorder: Patients with this disorder have such beliefs that others find strange, superstitious, and magical. Even the way they talk and their looks differ from other people. Isolation, detachment, and distrust of others are other symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder.
Cluster B: Disorders in this cluster are identified with emotional and erratic characteristics or harmful, impulsive, and dramatic behavioral patterns:
- Antisocial personality disorder: The main feature of this disorder is severe lawbreaking and disregard towards the rights of others without feeling guilty or remorseful. Most criminals who commit numerous and serious crimes are diagnosed this disorder.
- Narcissistic personality disorder: People with narcissistic personality disorder consider themselves as superior towards other people. They always think of themselves as righteous and do not empathize with anyone. Having a relationship with such people is very damaging because they are always involved with themselves.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: Patients suffering from borderline personality disorder do not have a clear and stable self-image in mind. They usually act impulsively and unpredictably. Multiple broken relationships, feelings of emptiness, and self-harm (such as self-cutting) are other features of this disorder.
- Histrionic personality disorder: These patients have an overwhelming desire for attention and always are trying to gain it. Therefore, they behave and talk in a way that seems very dramatic, inappropriate, and seductive to others. Their emotions and relationships are chronically unstable.
Cluster C: Disorders in this group are common in anxious behavioral and emotional patterns. It is anxiety that drives the lives of patients with these disorders:
- Avoidant personality disorder: Due to avoidant personality disorder, the patients get so anxious about rejection and judgment that they avoid communicating with people. These patients are interested in interacting with others, but their distress and anxiety make them prefer isolation.
- Dependent personality disorder: The hallmark of this disorder is the patient’s severe dependency on others, as well as an enormous fear of separation and abandonment. These patients have low self-esteem and are always looking for someone to decide for them and tell them what to do. It may easily expose them to abusive relationships.
- Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder: This disorder differs from the obsessive-compulsive disorder we usually hear about. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder are very perfectionist, and have excessive obsession with rules, schedules, and orders that their behaviors and beliefs become extremely persistent and inflexible. They need to be in charge of everything, and cannot trust the ability of others to fulfill different tasks.
Why do some people suffer from personality disorders?
Like all types of psychological disorders, personality disorders can root from a complex combination of genetic predisposition, malfunctioning in some brain regions, and environmental influences. The most significant environmental effects that lead to personality disorders are these factors: experience of neglect or psychological, physical or sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence stages, maladaptive parenting, severe socio-economic poverty, and overly stressful living conditions.
How can immigration affect personality disorders?
All types of mental disorders are exacerbated by stressors. Everyone may experience some levels of stress during and after migration. This stress can aggravate the mental condition of a person with a personality disorder. On the other hand, having a reliable support network is a key factor that, along with psychotherapy, helps cure the disorder. Loneliness and being apart from loved ones who used to support the patient, can worsen the symptoms.
In addition, people with certain types of personality disorders may have more post-migration difficulties. For instance, as mentioned before, people with borderline personality disorder suffer from identity confusion. Facing a new world which introduces various identities and lifestyles, brings more puzzlement for these patients. Another example is people with avoidant personality disorder who put a distance between themselves and society in order to avoid possible criticism or rejection. Based on that, entering a strange environment along with the fear of being different from others worsens the pressure of communicating for these patients.
What can Daroon do for you?
At any level and in any category, personality disorders have many adverse influences on all aspects of one’s life. These disorders cause impairment in academic, occupational, and social functioning, depriving healthy emotional relationships, and suffering for the patients and ones around them. Unfortunately, almost none of the personality disorders get healed without psychotherapy, and they even get worse over time. Most personality disorders also have comorbidities with other mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. In this case, it is a necessity to treat these illnesses as well.
Here at Daroon Counseling Centre, our clinical psychologists help patients with personality disorders to identify their dysfunctional personality patterns. By recognizing and changing the aforementioned patterns, their negative effects will be reduced so the patients can manifest their potential abilities and achieve the flourish and peace they desire. In case of a need for pharmacotherapy, our psychiatrists monitor the biological and physiological causes of the disease by prescribing the appropriate medications. We are with patients in order to effectively regulate their personal lives and relationships with others, and to lead a healthy and enjoyable life after migration.