by Kimberly Allen, RN
Personality disorders are a form of mental illness. People with personality disorders have difficulty understanding an relating to people and situations. Approximately 15% of adults in the US are affected by one or more personality disorders. Some are more common in men than women and vise versa.
The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of the American Psychiatric Association defines personality disorders as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that differs markedly from the expectations of the individuals culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.” People that suffer from a personality disorder have extreme difficulty coping with other people. They are usually rigid and inflexible. They do not deal with the everyday demands and changes in life well. Most of the time people with a personality disorder believe their patterns of behavior are normal and correct while it’s everyone else that is wrong. This behavior makes it very difficult for them to participate in social gatherings.
So what is a “personality”? Our personality is the individual behavior styles and patterns that create our individuality and character. This includes how we think and feel as well as our attitudes how we perceive the world around us. When people have a healthy personality they are able to handle normal stressors and are able to develop good relationships with their family, friends and co workers.
Our personality develops throughout our childhood and is generally determined by the interaction of two factors, inherited tendencies and environment. Inherited tendencies are the parts of your personality that you get from your parents like being shy or happy and outgoing, which is called your temperament. This is the “nurture” part of the debate over nurture vs nature. The environment refers to the surrounding and events that occurred while you were growing up. It includes the type of relationship you had with your family members as well as others. Were your parents loving and supportive or abusive? All these aspects create the “nurture” part of the debate over nature vs nurture.
The DSM-IV-TR categorizes 10 different personality disorders into three clusters, A, B and C. Cluster A disorders include paranoid personality disorders, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal disorder. Cluster B disorders include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. And cluster C disorders includes avoidant personality disorders, dependent personality disorder and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Personality disorders are conditions that you will need to manage throughout your life. However, there are some personality disorders that become less intense as you reach middle age and later. People with personality disorders are at risk for other problems including substance abuse, depression and suicide even homicidal tendencies. People suffering from personality disorders in cluster B are highly susceptible to impulse control issues, substance abuse and suicidal behavior. People with one or more personality disorders have a higher chance of developing other psychiatric and mood disorders than the general population.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.