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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 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.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Feb 14, 2018
Childhood Trauma and Resilience: Participating in Sports Can Help

People who have experienced trauma or abuse in childhood are at much higher risk of mental health problems throughout their lives. However, there are actions that individuals and communities can take to build resilience and help ward off mental health problems later.

  • Feb 12, 2018
Many with PTSD Not Getting Treatment

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that affects an estimated one in 11 people at some time in their lives. Some research has found that people with PTSD access treatment even less than those with other mental health conditions, such as depression. New research looks at some of the factors related to people seeking and utilizing treatment with the hope of increasing the number of people receiving treatment

  • Jan 18, 2018
What is an Alienist?

The Alienist is an upcoming American television psychological thriller series set in New York City in 1896. Alienist is an archaic term once used to describe a psychiatrist, particularly one who testifies in court.

Upcoming Events
Ongoing Events – Family Connections
  • National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Fri,  Dec  15 - Sun,  Dec  31

A 12-week program for relatives of a person with borderline personality disorder. In-person courses at various locations around the country; online course available.


National Alliance on Mental Illness

Find a NAMI Family Support Group
  • Fri,  Dec  15 - Sun,  Dec  31

National Alliance on Mental Illness

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 Skokol, M.D.
Research Professor, University of Arizona

Maria's Story

Maria, a single woman without a job, sought therapy at age 33 for treatment of depressed mood, chronic thoughts of killing herself and having no social contact for many months. She had spent the last six months alone in her apartment, lying in bed, eating junk food, watching TV and doing more online shopping than she could afford.

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Editor's Choice

JAN 11, 2018

Can You Tell a Psychopath from a Sociopath?

Psychology Today (blog)

Are you uncertain of the distinctions between a sociopath and a psychopath? If so, you are not alone. Many psychiatrists, forensic psychologists, criminologists and police officers incorrectly use the terms sociopathy and psychopathy interchangeably.
Leading experts disagree on whether there are meaningful differences between the two conditions. Those who agree that there are differences often disagree on what those differences are. I contend that there are clear and significant distinctions between psychopathy and sociopathy, and I discuss them below.

DEC 17, 2017

Interventions to Improve Social Outcomes in Offenders With Personality Disorders

Psychiatry Advisory

Among individuals with a history of criminal convictions, personality disorders are highly prevalent. The authors of a review published in BMC Psychiatry note one aim of support services for offenders is to improve social outcomes, which are typically poor in this population. Social outcomes result from participation in activities that reflect effective functioning in society, including employment, independent living, and family responsibilities.

NOV 30, 2017

The invisible struggle of living with quiet borderline personality disorder


Borderline personality disorder comprises a set of unhealthy and insufficient emotional coping mechanisms programmed in a person before adolescence. A person with BPD is incapable of regulating their emotions. Perhaps because our emotions, senses, and feelings are a gigawatt times of an average person’s. Besides, our intense emotions shift rapidly with minute triggers, which could go unnoticed even under a microscope.