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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

  • Jan 14, 2021
How Endometriosis, a Common, Painful Condition Many Women Face, Can Impact Mental Health

Endometriosis is a common, often painful condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. The most common symptom of endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain, especially just before and during the menstrual period. Endometriosis is also associated with mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, and a reduced quality of life.

  • Jan 05, 2021
Light, Sleep and Mental Health

Light, both natural and artificial, can affect our health and mental health in several different ways. Depending on the time of day, light exposure can promote or disrupt sleep. A persistently disrupted sleep cycle can contribute to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, obesity and mental health disorders. Research is also beginning to clarify non-circadian effects of light – light can have a direct impact on the sleep and mood centers in the brain. 

  • Dec 15, 2020
Tips for Family Mental Well-being During the Pandemic:  Young Children to Elderly Parents

Families are continuing to cope with challenges during the pandemic and many are juggling multiple roles, including working from home and caring for children and elderly parents. The American Psychiatric Association Foundation recently hosted a virtual town hall addressing Mentally Healthy Families in Times of a Pandemic with geriatric psychiatrist Uyen-Khanh Quang-Dang, M.D., M.S., Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, and psychiatrist Lisa Harding, M.D., clinical instructor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

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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OCT 15 2020

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

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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.

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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.