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Personality Disorder Questions

Do You Have a Personality Disorder?

Learning to Say “I’m OK and others can be trusted.”

By George Bagovich, LCSW

  • Have you tried multiple psychiatric medications with little benefit or only short term benefit?
  • Are you currently taking more than 2 psychiatric medications?
  • Do you tend to sabotage relationships?
  • Have you had different diagnoses by different providers?
  • Do you have trouble getting along with others?

personality disorder new directions counselingIf so, you might have a personality disorder, but that’s not as bad as it sounds. Understanding personality factors can help you to gain traction in therapy. 

Research suggests that the majority of clients who fail to respond to medication or therapy may suffer from underlying personality disorders. Unfortunately, these factors go largely underreported or unrecognized.  The way we think about ourselves, others and the future is strongly influenced by attachments with others in childhood.  A secure, supportive, relationship with a primary caregiver (parent) fosters a healthy belief. Learning to say and believe,  “I’m OK and others can be trusted” can be valuable. Conversely, a disrupted, tenuous, conditional or abusive relationship with a primary caregiver often results in questions of self and others.  Lessons that are learned in childhood have a direct impact on thoughts of self and others. This in turn affect feelings, behavior and interpersonal relationships in the present.

Breaking the Myth of All or Nothing

Some people infer that you either have a personality disorder or you don’t. In reality, many people have characteristics of a personality disorder that does negatively impact their life. It’s important to first focus on what is not working rather than the label placed upon someone.

Overview of Personality and Mood Disorders

A personality disorder is defined as the chronic use of coping tools in an inappropriate, stereotyped, and maladaptive manner. Personality disorders are enduring and persistent styles of behavior.  The official psychiatric manual, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), defines a personality disorder as an “enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that differs markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment”. Personality disorders include a long-standing and maladaptive pattern of perceiving and responding to other people and to stressful circumstances.

Using the DSM-V, Personality disorders are divided into three major categories:

Cluster A Personality Disorders are considered to be marked by odd, eccentric behavior. Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders are in this category.

Cluster B Personality Disorders are evidenced by dramatic, erratic behaviors and include Histrionic, Narcissistic, Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders.

Cluster C Personality Disorders are distinguished by the anxious, fearful behavior commonly seen in Obsessive-Compulsive, Avoidant and Dependent Personality Disorders.

Clusters B and C directly contribute to Depression and Anxiety and cluster B traits are often misdiagnosed as Bipolar Disorder.

If you or someone you know can connect with any of aforementioned information, please consider talking to a trusted, confidential therapist at New Directions Counseling Service. An understanding of these factors is essential in gaining traction in the therapeutic process.