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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

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  • Jun 24, 2020
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Upcoming Events
Apr
2020
01
Family Connections Program
  • Wed,  Apr  01 - Thur,  Apr  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.

Apr
2020
01
Family to Family Training – Find a Local Training
  • Wed,  Apr  01 - Thur,  Apr  30

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Apr
2020
01
Find a NAMI Family Support Group
  • Wed,  Apr  01 - Thur,  Apr  30

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Jul
2020
15
NAMI National Convention
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Wed,  Jul  15 - Sat,  Jul  18

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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MAR 16, 2020

Not Every Person With Narcissistic Traits Has Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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When we encounter people who are self-centered, self-confident, entitled, or mean, we might be quick to label them as narcissists without fully understanding the implications of the term. It's important to highlight that if you are concerned about being a narcissist, then you likely are not one—because true pathological narcissists see nothing wrong with themselves and would never question their behaviors. Let's talk about the difference between healthy narcissism, narcissistic traits, and pathological narcissism—aka narcissistic personality disorder.

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Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) — a psychological condition characterized by a lack of empathy and a remorseless disregard for and violation of the rights of others — is only diagnosed in people 18 and over. Symptoms of ASPD begin in childhood or adolescence, but when children show serious signs of antisocial behavior, they are diagnosed instead with conduct disorder. While not all children with conduct disorder end up developing antisocial personality disorder, “all adults with ASPD first show signs of psychopathy during childhood,” explains Kalina J. Michalska, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California in Riverside who studies children with this issue.

FEB 6, 2020

What's the difference between borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder?

Medical News Today

People sometimes confuse borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder because they can have similar symptoms, such as intense emotional responses, depression, and impulsive behavior. However, borderline personality disorder (BPD) and bipolar disorder are two separate types of condition with different symptoms and treatment options. In this article, we discuss the primary differences between BPD and bipolar disorder, including the symptoms of each condition and the most common treatment options.