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Personality disorders are abnormal personality patterns that are expressed in adults and interfere with their social functioning.
Some individuals can have difficult personalities to deal with. For instance, we can encounter extremely insecure people, avoidant people, dependent people but also demanding people. Similarly, we could also meet people who excessively crave for attention, as well as those who are overtly confident. However, this does not necessarily point towards identifying them as having a personality disorder, as it could be normal variant and aberrations of the normal variant.
Personality disorders are more often than not diagnosed after the age of 18. This is simply due to the fact that prior to that age, an individual’s behavior can be attributable to puberty. Adolescence is a normal development stage that all individuals go through. It is the stage during which wet take the years to form and mold our true identity, get to know and understand our likes and dislikes, based on which we develop our patterns of behavior. Thus, if an individual tends to exhibit an abnormal or socially disturbing pattern of behavior during puberty, one could possibly find its explanation in developmental stages. However, any patterns of behaviors that persist past puberty can rightly be considered as defining traits for a personality disorder.
Normal Personality Traits
In general, personality is characterized by 5 main criteria commonly known as “The Big Five”. These include: Openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism (emotionality) and agreeableness. Researchers believe that personality disorders stem not only from unresolved conflicts during some developmental stages (causing anxiety), but also from the overexpression of one or many of the characteristics of normal personality. For example, people with bipolar and histrionic personality disorders have a high level of neuroticism (emotionality and emotional lability) but also of extraversion. However, people with narcissistic personality disorder have a low level of agreeableness and are mistrusting, arrogant and tough-minded.
Types of Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is a disorder in which an individual perceives things, people and situations as either all good or all bad, with no medium. Such individuals are said to use the defense mechanism called splitting, which is the landmark of this personality disorder. When faced with a situation that they consider as positive, individuals with this disorder tend to feel good and happy. However, when they face rejection, opposition or contradiction, they consider the perpetrators of those negative emotions as “bad people”. This also explains why individuals with borderline personalities suffer extreme mood swings as they frequently and rapidly shift from being happy to being sad. They are also very dramatic in expressing their emotions and tend to exaggerate them.
With paranoid personality disorder, the individual has a deeply ingrained sense of mistrust which makes him constantly doubt and question the actions of everyone that surrounds him.
The same applies to their relationship with their siblings, relatives and co-workers.