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Personality disorders

Personality disorders




June Newsletter


Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by enduring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that deviate significantly from societal expectations and cause impairment in multiple areas of functioning. These patterns are typically inflexible and pervasive across various situations, leading to distress for the individual and difficulties in their personal and social relationships. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, identifies ten specific personality disorders categorized into three clusters: 

Cluster A: Odd or Eccentric Personality Disorders: 

  1. Paranoid Personality Disorder: Individuals with paranoid personality disorder tend to be suspicious and mistrustful of others. They often interpret innocent actions as malevolent and have a pervasive sense of being exploited or harmed.


  1. Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with schizoid personality disorder typically display a pattern of detachment and social withdrawal. They tend to have limited emotional expression and struggle with forming close relationships.


  1. Schizotypal Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by eccentric behaviour, peculiar beliefs or magical thinking, and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder may experience perceptual distortions or odd speech patterns.


Cluster B: Dramatic, Emotional, or Erratic Personality Disorders: 

  1. antisocial personality disorder: Individuals with antisocial personality disorder exhibit a disregard for the rights of others, a lack of empathy, and a pattern of violating social norms and rules. They often engage in impulsive and irresponsible behaviours.


  1. borderline personality disorder: Borderline personality disorder is characterized by emotional instability, difficulties in relationships, impulsivity, and a distorted self-image. Individuals with this disorder often engage in self-harming behaviours and have intense fear of abandonment.


  1. Histrionic Personality Disorder: People with histrionic personality disorder seek attention and have a strong need for approval. They tend to be dramatic, emotionally reactive, and may exhibit attention-seeking behaviours.


  1. narcissistic personality disorder: narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Individuals with this disorder often have grandiose fantasies, seek constant validation, and exploit others for personal gain.


Cluster C: Anxious or Fearful Personality Disorders: 

  1. Avoidant Personality Disorder: Individuals with avoidant personality disorder have an excessive fear of rejection and criticism, leading to social isolation and avoidance of situations that may involve interpersonal contact. They often experience low self-esteem and are highly sensitive to negative evaluation.


  1. Dependent Personality Disorder: People with dependent personality disorder have an excessive need to be taken care of and rely heavily on others to make decisions. They fear separation and have difficulties with assertiveness.


  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control. Individuals with this disorder tend to be rigid, inflexible, and excessively focused on details, often at the expense of interpersonal relationships.


It’s important to note that individuals may have traits or characteristics that resemble multiple personality disorders, and an accurate diagnosis should be made by a qualified mental health professional based on a thorough assessment. 



Symptoms of personality disorders  


Symptoms of personality disorders can vary depending on the specific disorder, but there are some common patterns and traits associated with these conditions. Here are some general symptoms often observed in individuals with personality disorders: 


  1. Distorted Self-Image: People with personality disorders often have an unstable or distorted sense of self. They may struggle with low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, or an exaggerated sense of self-importance.


  1. Difficulty with Relationships: Individuals with personality disorders often struggle to maintain stable and healthy relationships. They may have intense and unstable relationships marked by idealization and devaluation, fear of abandonment, or a pattern of pushing others away.


  1. Emotional Instability: Many personality disorders involve emotional dysregulation. Individuals may experience intense and rapidly shifting emotions, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety. Mood swings, impulsivity, and difficulty controlling emotions are common.


  1. Maladaptive Behaviours: People with personality disorders often engage in maladaptive behaviours that can harm themselves or others. This may include self-harm, substance abuse, reckless driving, excessive spending, or aggressive behaviour.


  1. Cognitive Distortions: Certain personality disorders involve distorted patterns of thinking. Individuals may have black-and-white thinking, difficulty seeing shades of grey, or struggle with paranoid thoughts or unusual beliefs.


  1. Impulsivity and Risk-Taking: Many personality disorders are associated with impulsive behaviour and a lack of consideration for consequences. This can manifest as impulsive spending, risky sexual behaviour, substance abuse, or engaging in dangerous activities without regard for personal safety.


  1. Social Isolation or Withdrawal: Some individuals with personality disorders may experience social isolation or withdrawal due to difficulties in social interactions, fear of judgment or rejection, or a preference for solitude.


  1. Intense Anxiety or Depression: Many individuals with personality disorders experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. They may have chronic feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or persistent worry and may struggle with managing stress.


It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in intensity and presentation depending on the specific personality disorder. A proper diagnosis and treatment plan should be determined by a mental health professional who can assess symptoms and provide appropriate care. 




Causes of personality disorders  

Personality disorders are complex mental health conditions that are thought to develop because of a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors. While the exact causes of personality disorders are still not fully understood, several factors have been identified as potential contributors. Here are some probable causes or risk factors associated with the development of personality disorders: 


  1. Genetic predisposition: There is evidence to suggest that certain personality traits and disorders have a genetic component. Individuals with a family history of personality disorders may be at a higher risk of developing one themselves.


  1. Childhood experiences: Adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), neglect, or inconsistent caregiving, can significantly impact the development of personality. Traumatic experiences during childhood can disrupt normal psychological development and contribute to the development of personality disorders.


  1. Environmental factors: Environmental factors, such as a chaotic family environment, unstable relationships, or exposure to violence, can contribute to the development of personality disorders. Growing up in an environment where there is a lack of emotional support, inconsistent boundaries, or poor role models can have a profound impact on the development of personality.


  1. Neurobiological factors: Studies have suggested that abnormalities in brain structure and function may be associated with personality disorders. Certain areas of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, which are involved in emotional regulation and impulse control, may be implicated in the development of these disorders.


  1. Temperament and personality traits: Certain personality traits, such as impulsivity, emotional instability, or elevated levels of anxiety, may increase the vulnerability to developing a personality disorder. These traits, combined with other risk factors, can contribute to the manifestation of specific personality disorders.


It is important to note that personality disorders are complex conditions, and the development of a specific disorder is influenced by a combination of these factors. Additionally, everyone’s experience is unique, and not everyone exposed to risk factors will develop a personality disorder. Diagnosis and treatment should be undertaken by qualified mental health professionals who can conduct a comprehensive evaluation and provide appropriate care. 


Coping with personality disorders can be challenging, both for individuals who have the disorder and for their loved ones. Here are some strategies for individuals with personality disorders to cope with their condition, as well as ways to support someone with a personality disorder: 


For individuals with personality disorders: 


  1. Seek professional help: It is important to consult with a mental health professional experienced in treating personality disorders. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, offer therapy, and suggest appropriate treatment options.


  1. Educate yourself: Learn about your specific personality disorder. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options can empower you to manage your condition effectively.


  1. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that promote your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. This may include exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.


  1. Establish a support network: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or support groups who can offer understanding, encouragement, and assistance when needed.


  1. Stick to a routine: Establishing a structured routine can help improve stability and manage symptoms. Develop a schedule for daily activities, including self-care, work, socializing, and therapy.


  1. Develop coping strategies: Work with a therapist to develop coping mechanisms that address specific challenges related to your personality disorder. These strategies may include emotional regulation techniques, problem-solving skills, and stress management techniques.


For supporting loved ones with personality disorders: 


  1. Educate yourself: Learn about the specific personality disorder your loved one has been diagnosed with. Understanding the disorder can help you empathize and communicate more effectively.


  1. Be non-judgmental and patient: Personality disorders can be complex and challenging. Show empathy, avoid blaming or criticizing, and be patient with your loved one as they navigate their condition.


  1. Encourage professional help: Suggest that your loved one seek professional help from a mental health specialist experienced in treating personality disorders. Offer to assist them in finding a suitable therapist or support group.


  1. Be a good listener: Provide a safe space for your loved one to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Listen without judgment and validate their emotions.


  1. Set boundaries: While it’s important to offer support, it’s equally important to set boundaries to protect your own well-being. Maintain a healthy balance between supporting your loved one and taking care of your own needs.


  1. Encourage healthy lifestyle choices: Promote self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation.


Remember, personality disorders require professional intervention, and a mental health professional should guide the treatment process. Providing support and being understanding can make a significant difference in the well-being and recovery of someone with a personality disorder. 




Treatment for personality disorders often involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support from a multidisciplinary team. Psychotherapy approaches such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy are commonly used to address the underlying patterns and promote healthier 




Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a personality disorder characterized by a persistent disregard for the rights of others, a lack of empathy, and a pattern of manipulative and exploitative behaviours. Here is an overview of its characteristics, effects, signs, coping strategies for loved ones, and management techniques for individuals with ASPD: 


Characteristics of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD): 

  1. Lack of empathy: Individuals with ASPD often have difficulty understanding or caring about the emotions and needs of others.
  2. Manipulative behaviour: They may use charm, deceit, and manipulation to exploit others for personal gain.
  3. Impulsivity: Acting on immediate desires without considering potential consequences is common among those with ASPD.
  4. Aggression and hostility: Frequent displays of anger, aggression, and a disregard for the safety and well-being of others are common.
  5. Persistent violation of rules: They consistently engage in unlawful or morally objectionable behaviours, often starting from an early age.
  6. Lack of remorse: Individuals with ASPD typically show little to no guilt or remorse for their harmful actions.
  7. Superficial charm: They can be charismatic and appear charming and persuasive, often using these traits to manipulate others.


Effects of Antisocial Personality Disorder: 

ASPD can have significant negative effects on both the individual with the disorder and those around them. These effects may include: 

  1. Legal problems: Engaging in criminal activities and disregarding laws can lead to repeated legal issues.
  2. Relationship difficulties: Individuals with ASPD often struggle with maintaining stable and healthy relationships due to manipulative behaviour, lack of empathy, and disregard for others’ feelings.
  3. Occupational problems: Frequent job changes, conflicts with colleagues, and problems with authority figures are common.
  4. Substance abuse: There is a higher risk of developing substance abuse problems among individuals with ASPD.


Signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder: 

While a formal diagnosis should be made by a mental health professional, some signs that may indicate ASPD include: 

  1. Repeatedly engaging in illegal activities.
  2. Consistent disregard for the rights of others.
  3. Frequent lying, deceit, or manipulation.
  4. Impulsivity and a lack of impulse control.
  5. A history of conduct disorder symptoms in childhood.





Coping Strategies for Loved Ones: 

Coping with someone who has ASPD can be challenging, but here are some strategies that loved ones can consider: 

  1. Set boundaries: Clearly communicate and enforce personal boundaries to protect your own well-being.
  2. Seek support: Reach out to support groups or therapy to help you understand and navigate the challenges of living with someone with ASPD.
  3. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that promote your mental and emotional well-being.
  4. Maintain safety: If you or others feel unsafe due to the individual’s behaviour, prioritize your safety, and consider involving appropriate authorities or seeking professional help.


Management Techniques for Individuals with ASPD: 

While treatment for ASPD can be challenging, the following strategies may be helpful: 

  1. Psychotherapy: Individual therapy can focus on developing skills such as empathy, anger management, and problem-solving.
  2. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours.
  3. Substance abuse treatment: If there is co-occurring substance abuse, addressing it through specialized treatment programs can be beneficial.
  4. Developing a support network: Encouraging



Mrs. Oluseyi Elizabeth Odudimu is a mental health advocate and the founder of the Stop Mental Illness Foundation. With a solid academic background, she has dedicated her life to raising awareness about mental health issues and providing support to individuals suffering from mental illness. Mrs. Odudimu is also a published author, mentor, and a loving mother and wife. Her tireless efforts have earned her numerous accolades and honors, making her a true role model and a beacon of hope for those affected by mental illness.

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