Personality Disorders Summary and Conclusion

Personality Disorder Definition

Personality disorders are a diagnostic category of psychiatric disorders that affect approximately 10% of the population. This group of disorders is characterized by problematic thinking patterns; problems with emotional regulation; and difficulty achieving a balance between spontaneity and impulse control.
Personality Disorder Definition

  • Research indicates that personality disorders are correlated with substance use disorders. Associations have been found between borderline personality disorder, alcohol abuse and abuse of sedatives/benzodiazepines. Antisocial personality disorder has also been frequently associated with alcohol abuse and misuse. Read about substance abuse treatment to know your options.

Since everyone has a personality, but not everyone has a personality disorder, these disorders are considered a variant form of normal, healthy personality.

  • However, the most significant and defining feature of personality disorders is the negative effect these disorders have on interpersonal relationships.
  • People with personality disorders tend to respond to differing situations and demands with a characteristically rigid constellation of thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
  • This inflexibility and difficulty in forming nuanced responses represents the primary difference between healthy and disordered personalities.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of personality disorders is often very complex as these disorders frequently co-occur with each other and with other psychiatric categories of disorders. The current diagnostic system of the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) relies upon a categorical approach that outlines the following criteria to meet a personality disorder diagnosis:

  • Significant impairments in interpersonal functioning and self-identity that are relatively consistent across time and situations.
  • The impairments have no discernable cause outside of the individual's personality trait domains, like psychological or head trauma, sociological/cultural environment and are not due to the effects of using a substance.

Causes of a Personality Disorder

The exact cause of personality disorders remains uncertain. However, it is clear there are both biological and psychosocial factors that influence the development of personality and personality disorders.

Several psychological theories of personality disorders attempt to explain the psychosocial origins of personality disorders. The following psychological theories of personality disorders were reviewed:

  • Object relations theory.
  • Attachment theory (including mentalization).
  • Cognitive-behavioral theory (including dialectical behavior theory and schema theory).

Treatment

Not too long ago, personality disorders were thought to be untreatable. There are now several highly effective treatments for personality disorders that derive from the same psychological theories previously reviewed, with pharmacological interventions serving as an important adjunct. These treatments include:

  • Transference-focused therapy (TFP).
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT).
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Schema therapy.

In conclusion, recent technological advancements and improvements to diagnostic methodologies have enabled researchers to study personality and personality disorders as never before.

  • As a result, we now have a much greater understanding of these disorders.
  • Furthermore, this research has facilitated the development of several highly effective treatments for personality disorders that are evidenced-based.
  • As research continues, these treatment approaches will be further refined.

Therefore, we can state with confidence there is hope and relief for people affected by these disorders, including their family members and loved ones.