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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 18, 2022
Effective Psychotherapists Must Focus on Trustworthiness, Says New Book

While there is broad agreement—among therapists, students, and patients alike—that trust is important in psychotherapy, author Jon Allen, Ph.D., argues in a new book, “Trust in Psychotherapy,” that it deserves a closer look, and we should shift the focus. While therapists are inclined to focus on patients’ problems with trust, Allen suggests that therapists should give equal attention to becoming trustworthy to their patients. Cultivating trusting psychotherapy bonds—especially for patients who have experienced developmental trauma in close relationships—is complex, challenging, and a critically important topic, Allen suggests.

  • Jan 06, 2022
Study Asks: Can a Hit Song Help Prevent Suicides?

In 2017 the song “1-800-273-8255,” by the hip-hop artist Logic, featured the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number and a hopeful story of survival. A new study finds that this song was associated with a noticeable increase in calls to Lifeline and a reduction in suicides.

  • Jan 04, 2022
7 Check-ins For New Year’s Mental Health

We often focus more on treating illnesses, both physical and mental, than on staying healthy. But the absence of mental illness does not necessarily mean good mental health. And we’ve all been dealing with the ups and downs, losses, uncertainties and changes brought on by the pandemic. The start of a new year is a good opportunity for self-assessment with a brief mental health checkup.

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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NOV 2 2021

Machine Learning May Help Identify Borderline Personality Disorder
Psychiatry Advisor 

A machine learning algorithm has demonstrated early efficacy in helping identify potential cases of borderline personality disorder (BoPD), according to the results of a recent study. The researchers indicated that 70% of those identified are highly likely to have a BoPD diagnosis. The accuracy of the machine learning algorithm was 0.82, its sensitivity was 0.54, and its specificity was 0.92. The study authors concluded that “[initial] data support the utility of a machine learning algorithm to identify potential patients with BoPD.”.

 OCT 28, 2021
New Research Explores The Nuances Of Borderline Personality Disorder

Understanding patterns of emotions and responses is key to treating borderline personality disorder. A new paper appearing in the journal Personality Disorders attempts to catalog the nuanced emotional experiences associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and offers insight on how to treat one of the more “treatment-resistant” personality disorders.

OCT 18, 2021
The big idea: Is it your personality, or a disorder?
The Guardian

Psychological diagnoses offer an easy way in to understanding character – but our habit of using them comes at a cost. Yet this classification habit comes at a cost. This isn’t just about the possibility of diagnoses exacerbating rather than reducing stigma by enhancing a sense of otherness. Or the fact that having a supposed disorder can make a problem feel more permanent and harder to fix. This is about what we lose when we reduce ourselves to something too simple – often, to a single word. When you use a label to describe someone, and that includes yourself, you can turn a multi-faceted, endlessly complicated character into a flat stereotype.