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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

  • Nov 15, 2021
How Historical Trauma Impacts Native Americans Today

November is Native American Heritage Month and one issue impacting many Native American  is the historical trauma associated with  American Indian boarding schools operated by the U.S. government. As many as 100 American Indian residential schools operated in the U.S. from the mid-1800s until the 1960s. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, noted in a memo earlier this year that the purpose of these boarding schools “was to culturally assimilate Indigenous children by forcibly relocating them from their families and communities to distant residential facilities where their American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian identities, languages, and beliefs were to be forcibly suppressed.”

  • Nov 08, 2021
Technology Playing Role in Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Services

As we approach Veteran’s Day and look to honor the work and sacrifices of members of the military and their families, we look at several recent reports on veterans and mental health services.

  • Oct 29, 2021
10 Steps to Help Your Child Prevent and Address Cyberbullying

Your tween or teenager spends a lot of time on the internet, smart phones, and video games. I’m sure you wonder if this is ok, but you trust your child and you know this is common among their peers. In this digital era, technology has become intertwined with socialization, education, creativity, and play. And it is always available. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the use on virtual social interactions as the main form of interacting among peers. Close friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, and even bullies have constant access to them through digital devices.

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
Scoop Empire 

It’s Borderline Personality Disorder awareness month, and indeed there is a lot we don’t know. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “BPD is an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.” Again and again we have seen the misplacement of mental disorders into inaccurate categories, borderline being one of them. In light of its awareness month, we’ve gathered some common misconceptions about the illness.

 May 13, 2021
Self-injurious behaviors, chronic emptiness increase suicide attempt risk in BPD

Borderline personality disorder diagnosis and related criteria of self-injurious behaviors and chronic emptiness significantly increased suicide attempt risk, according to results of a cross-sectional study published in JAMA Network Open. “The present study aimed to examine whether a lifetime BPD diagnosis and specific criteria of BPD are associated with lifetime and past-year [suicide attempts] in U.S. adults after adjusting for other known sociodemographic and clinical variables associated with [suicide attempts], including childhood adverse experiences and psychiatric comorbidity,” Carlos M. Grilo, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine

April 26, 2021
Behind the Scenes of Histrionic Personality Disorder
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Separation anxiety in children often includes very real upset stomachs and headaches. It's not faking. People with histrionic personalities learn that, with a little theatrics, they can turn up the volume of their physical discomforts. They often land in the emergency room, and after considerable evaluation, no medical causes can be found.  Part 1: The story of Nancy.