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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

  • Oct 22, 2020
Racial Disparities in ADHD

Two recent reports highlight racial disparities in the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses. A meta-analysis published online in JAMA Psychiatry in September found that Black individuals are at higher risk of ADHD diagnosis than the general population, a finding that “challenges generally accepted statements that Black individuals have a lower prevalence of ADHD compared with others,” the authors note.

  • Oct 21, 2020
Americans Embrace the Shift to Telehealth

About one in three U.S. adults (31%) have used telehealth services, according to a new poll* from the American Psychiatric Association. Almost three-quarters (72%) of those who have used telehealth services have done so for the first time in the past six months.

  • Oct 21, 2020
Poll:  American Workers are Increasingly Comfortable Talking about Mental Health in the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic and required isolation and economic consequences have negatively impacted the mental health of many Americans. The pandemic has also changed the way we work, with many people at home or adopting physical distancing requirements and masks. In addition, many Americans are also juggling work and helping their children who are distance learning.

Upcoming Events
Family Connections Program
  • Tue,  Sep  01 - Wed,  Sep  30

National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder. Family Connections is a 12-week program for relatives with a loved one with borderline personality disorder. Available in person and via conference call.


National Alliance on Mental Illness

Find a NAMI Family Support Group
  • Tue,  Sep  01 - Wed,  Sep  30

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 Skodol, 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

OCT 15 2020

Emotional Manipulation & Narcissism: How Can Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder Toy with Your emotions?
Science Times

It's important to understand and to be aware of mindset of the narcissistic so you can detect his manipulations Techniques. In the mind of a narcissist, He will try to get his needs, even the selfish ones, by all means possible " the end justifies the means is their motto in life" Those means in relationships are called "Emotional manipulative tactics". 3 Famous Emotional Manipulative Tactics Usually Used By Narcissists in Relationships.

SEPT 3, 2020  

“Tomorrow I’ll Be Someone Else”: Living With Borderline Personality Disorder
Refinery 29

Borderline patients feel everything deeply and are often described as having no emotional skin. Marsha Linehan, the psychologist responsible for the development of dialectical behaviour therapy, noted that we are the "psychological equivalent of burn victims" – the slightest touch or movement creates immense suffering. A common misconception is that borderlines lack empathy when in fact studies show that we’re actually better at reading others' emotions than people who are mentally well.

SEPT 21, 2020

The differences between borderline personality disorder and bipolar, and how to recognize the symptoms of each


The main difference between borderline personality disorder and bipolar is that those with bipolar experience grace periods where they have no symptoms. Bipolar disorder appears to be more of a genetic condition than borderline personality disorder, which is more likely to be caused by childhood trauma.  Both bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder can be treated with therapy.