What is a personality disorder?
A personality disorder is different from other diagnosable disorders in that it is “part” of a person, and not something that the person “has” (eg depression).
Therefore, if one compares a personality disorder with a physical condition, it would rather be compared to a rare hereditary disease than to a temporary condition such as the flu. It is therefore important to first understand what a personality disorder is before looking at specific disorders.
Most people have been acting like someone with an antisocial personality disorder (the correct term for "psychopath") for a few seconds, a few minutes, or even for a day or two, by, for example, being selfish and "unscrupulous" something to respond to and for that brief period seemingly "nothing to give".
As someone though persistent act like this, month after month, we talk about a sustained psychological and behavioral pattern. This pattern of behavior must be significantly different from what a person expects, ie most of the society must find the pattern of behavior unacceptable.
General criteria for a personality disorder
The following symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is globally accepted as the most authoritative source.
The following areas of a person with a personality disorder's functioning must be severely affected for the disorder to be diagnosable:
- Thoughts: How the person thinks about him / herself and other people or events, differs to a great extent from the thinking of the "average" person. For example, he / she may be convinced that other people must admire them (narcissism) or that other people can be abused with ease (antisocial personality disorder).
- Feeling: The intensity, appropriateness, duration or absence of emotion are many anders and more constant than the average person. Someone with an antisocial personality disorder will find other people e.g. abuse by the bank and rarely, if ever, feel guilty about his or her actions.
- Interpersonal functioning: In the long run, people generally find someone with a personality disorder repulsive; that's why someone with such a disorder few lasting relationships.
- Pulse control: The degree of management about emotions or behaviors that the person can apply is usually much lower than the average person. For example, if someone with a narcissistic personality disorder experiences being publicly belittled, it will almost always result in a severe outburst of anger.
The pattern should:
- be rigid and rigid, and occur in a variety of situations and contexts. It is therefore a "part" of the person and is constantly occurring, in all circumstances;
- have a significant impact on the person's work, relationships and other important areas of life;
- occur over a long period of time, and has already begun during adolescence or early adulthood;
- not be better explained by another form of mood disorder, medical condition (eg brain injury) or as a result of substance abuse.
Did you know?
Complete, diagnosed personality disorders are very rare statistically.
Only about 10% of the population suffers from personality disorders.
Most people have one or more unhealthy (or dysfunctional) personality traits. This does not necessarily mean that they have a diagnosable personality disorder. Psychologists look at the nature of the unhealthy traits, and their effect on someone's life over a period of time, before a diagnosis is made. Personality disorders usually cause damage to a person's relationships, work and other areas of functioning from a young age.