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To understand personality disorders, first, we have to understand personalities. What is personality?
A personality is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual's personality is influenced by experiences, environment, surroundings, life situations, and inherited characteristics. For most people, their personality stays the same over time.
A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.
There are 10 specific types of personality disorders but all of them share a few things in common; the pattern of experience and behavior begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and causes distress or problems in functioning. Without treatment, they are long-lasting, and finally, they affect at least two of these areas:
Antisocial personality disorder: Disregarding or crossing boundaries of other people. A person with an antisocial personality disorder does not fit into social norms, they may repeatedly lie or deceive others or may act impulsively.
Avoidant personality disorder: Feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to criticism. People with an avoidant personality disorder may be unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked. They will be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected or may view themselves as not being good enough or socially inept.
Borderline personality disorder: is characterized by instability in personal relationships, intense emotions, poor self-image, and impulsivity. A person with a borderline personality disorder may try to avoid being abandoned, have repeated suicide attempts, display inappropriate intense anger, or have ongoing feelings of emptiness.
Dependent personality disorder: is defined by a pattern of needing to be taken care of as well as submissiveness and clingy behavior. People with a dependent personality disorder may have difficulty making decisions without reassurance from others or may feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of fear or inability to take care of themselves.
Histrionic personality disorder: This personality disorder includes excessive emotion and attention-seeking. People with a histrionic personality disorder may be uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention, may use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves, or have rapidly changed and exaggerated emotions.
Narcissistic personality disorder: Commonly misinterpreted. A narcissistic personality disorder is defined by the need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. A person with a narcissistic disorder may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, entitlement, and believe that people who are not them are objects to be used.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: Not to be confused with OCD, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control. A person with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be overly focused on details and schedules. They may work excessively not allowing time for leisure or friends or may be inflexible in their morality and values.
Paranoid personality disorder: a pattern of being suspicious of others and seeing them as mean or spiteful. Thinking the world is out to get them, people with a paranoid personality disorder often think that people will hurt them and don't get close to other people to avoid the risk of feeling pain.
Schizoid personality disorder: This disorder is characterized by detachment from social relationships and expressing little emotion. A person with a schizoid personality disorder does not seek out relationships with other people and would prefer to be alone. Differing from avoidant behavior, they don't care about praise or criticism.
Schizotypal personality disorder: Being very uncomfortable in close relationships, eccentric behavior, and distorted thinking. A person with a schizotypal personality disorder may have odd beliefs or odd and peculiar behavior and speech. They may also have excessive social anxiety.
Many people suffering from addiction have mild cases of the above-mentioned personality disorders. With varying therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectal behavioral therapy, and simple talk therapy, many of these disorders can be managed and may heal over time. However, for those with more profound personality disorders, medication, as well as psychiatric visits, may be necessary. It is important to utilize both approaches. Healing the disorders underlying substance abuse is an integral piece of healing.
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