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Help With Personality Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Personality is the way of thinking, feeling and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment (surroundings, life situations) and inherited characteristics. A person’s personality typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.1

There are 10 specific types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differs significantly from what is expected. The pattern of experience and behavior begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and causes distress or problems in functioning. Without treatment, personality disorders can be long-lasting. Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others
  • Way of responding emotionally
  • Way of relating to other people
  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

Read more on symptoms & treatment

  • Jul 15, 2021
Addressing Loneliness in Older Adults through Empathetic Conversations, Health and Fitness Classes

The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing focused much attention on impacts of social isolation particularly for older adults, but even before the pandemic, loneliness had been increasingly of concern. Researchers are looking at the relationship between social disconnectedness and mental illness, effective interventions and prevention.

  • Jun 29, 2021
National 988 Crisis Line One Step in Improving Mental Health Crisis Services

The number of people experiencing mental health crises is up—drug overdoses and suicides have overtaken traffic accidents as the two leading causes of death among young Americans ages 25-44. Unfortunately, individuals in crisis often do not receive appropriate and effective response and do not get the care and help they need.

  • Jun 21, 2021
Expanding Mental Health Uses for Virtual Reality

Virtual reality technology is increasingly being used to support mental health and treat a variety of mental health disorders, especially as the technology becomes more familiar and more affordable. Virtual reality (VR) offers several advantages, including convenience and the ability to adapt and individualize it. Among the conditions being effectively treated with VR are PTSD, anxiety and phobias.

I’m concerned that my friend may have a personality disorder. I don’t think she’ll consider having an evaluation or getting help. What can I do?

People with personality disorders often have a hard time taking responsibility for their feelings and behaviors. They sometimes even blame others for their problems. However, each of them is suffering and is aware that their life is not going well. Approaching a friend about her painful feelings or the frustrations and disappointments in her life, and offering to listen, might be a way to help her consider treatment. If you have had a successful experience in therapy, share that with your friend, even if it wasn’t necessarily for “personality problems” (an off-putting term for many people). Most people with personality disorders enter treatment with another problem, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, a job loss, a romantic break-up, etc. The challenge is to get your friend “in the door,” so to speak, not to commit to long-term treatment at the beginning. Read More

My bother has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I want to be supportive and help him, but it has been extremely difficult to deal with his anger, aggressiveness and paranoia. How can I help him without feeling abused and hurt myself?

People with borderline personality disorder have significant problems in relationships. On the one hand, they can be very needy and clingy in relationships. On the other hand, they push people away because they are insecure themselves and distrust others. They would rather be the one who leaves than the one who is abandoned. To be able to tolerate the borderline person’s anger and aggression, family members must appreciate that the person is reacting out of a sense of weakness and suffering. That is not to say that family members should accept anger and abuse directed at them – limits must be set. Family members must be able to walk away, if necessary, from a situation for their own good, and without guilt. To help a person with borderline personality disorder people need to respect themselves enough to protect themselves. If you let yourself be abused, you will react with anger, push your brother away and confirm his suspicion that you do not love him (enough). Read More

About the Expert:

Andrew Skodol, M.D.
Research Professor, University of Arizona

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MAY 23 2021

10 Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder We Must Leave Behind
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