Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is one of a cluster of disorders defined by symptoms of anxiety and fear. The specific, identifying symptoms include:
- Being emotionally dependent on others; feeling they can’t take care of themselves
- · Investing a lot of time and effort in trying to please significant people
- · Displaying clingy, passive and needy behavior
- · Avoiding disagreements for fear of losing approval and support
- · Experiencing separation anxiety and intense fear of abandonment
- · Finding it hard to be alone
- · Putting the needs of others before their own
- · Tolerating mistreatment and abuse for fear of disapproval and abandonment
- · Being crushed, and feeling helpless, when relationships end – and forming new relationships as soon as possible
- · Being unable to make even the simplest decision without the input and reassurance of others
- · Rarely taking the initiative
- · Avoiding personal responsibility
- · Avoiding responsible jobs and careers that require independent, autonomous functioning
- · Being over-sensitivity to criticism
- · Feeling negative and pessimistic; expecting to disappoint and fail
- · Having low self esteem and lacking confidence, including a belief that they are unable to care for themselves.
The cause of disorder is still unclear, and probably includes both a genetic and environmental component. Some researchers have speculated that it could be linked to an authoritarian or overprotective parenting style – which acts as a trigger for a genetic predisposition.
Treatment is usually initially sought for some other problem or concern – such as feeling overwhelmed – so that they can’t cope with life. Also, sufferers will often have a mood disorder so they seek help for depression or anxiety at first.
The normal treatment for this particular disorder is counselling or psychotherapy. However, the emphasis is short term therapy so the person doesn’t form a dependency – and then look to the counsellor to take care of them. Prognosis with support is generally good.
Roughly 20% of the population struggle with high sensitivity. Typical traits include the following:
1. As students, they work differently from other people. They often pick up on subtleties and may think deeply about a subject before sharing in a discussion or contributing in a classroom setting. (This does not necessarily mean they don’t understand the material, or are too shy to speak in public. It has more to do with the way the person processes information.)
2. They tend to be highly conscientious in their work. They notice and pay attention to details, and they think things through very carefully. Also, often being highly sensitive is equated with higher levels of intelligence, being highly intuitive and having a vivid imagination. Highly sensitive individuals work and learn best in quiet and calm environments.
3. Highly sensitive students and employees generally underperform when they are being evaluated. They are highly conscious of being watched, and this inhibits their ability to function at their peak.
4. Although some individuals who are born with this trait may seem to be more introverted by nature, being introverted and highly sensitive do not always go together. Instead, environmental factors have a greater influence on how the individual feels and reacts.
5. People with high sensitivity are more sensitive to both negative and positive experiences. Thus, they are more affected by rough treatment, pain, heartaches and insensitivity from others … but also seem to benefit more from being treated with kindness, care and thoughtfulness.
6. Other common characteristics of the highly sensitive person being easily over-stimulated (hence the need for quiet and calm), being more emotionally reactive than others, and having higher levels of empathy.
This is very similar to generalized social phobia. Those with the disorder think of themselves as being inadequate, unlikeable and socially inept. They fear being rejected, criticised or ridiculed and would rather avoid most social situations. The reasons can differ may be related to emotional neglect and peer group rejection in childhood and/ or adolescence. Symptoms may include the following:
- Hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism
- Self-imposed social isolation
- Extreme shyness or anxiety in social situations. (However, the person still has a strong desire for close and meaningful relationships)
- May avoid physical contact with others (because it is associated with emotional or physical pain)
- Painful feelings of inadequacy
- Poor self-esteem
- Intense feelings of self consciousness
- Self hatred or self-loathing
- Mistrust of others
- Emotional distancing/ fear of intimacy
- Highly critical of their ability to relate naturally and appropriately to others
- Do not feel they can connect with others (although others may view them as easy to relate to)
- Intense feelings of inferiority.
- In more extreme cases, may suffer from agoraphobia.
Treatment approaches include social skills training, cognitive therapy, gradually increasing exposure to social situations, group therapy and, occasionally, drug therapy. Gaining and keeping the client’s trust is essential for progress to be made.
Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological strategies that help us to cope with reality whilst also preserving our self esteem. Normal, healthy people use them regularly. Examples could include humour, thought suppression or sublimation (transforming negative emotions into positive actions - like helping a friend when we’re feeling sad or down). They only become pathological when they lead to problematic behaviours that compromise our health or relationships. Examples of unhealthy defenses include:
Acting out: This is directly expressing an unconscious impulse without realising what is driving the behaviour.
Fantasy: This is retreating to a fantasy world to escape, or resolve, conflicts we are battling with.
Idealization: This is unconsciously choosing to see another person as being more ideal or perfect than they really are.
Passive aggression: This is expressing our anger indirectly, for example, through being late or doing something that “inadvertently” destroys another’s plans.
Projection: This is attributing our own unacknowledged, and unacceptable, thoughts and emotions onto someone else.
Somatization: This is translating negative thoughts and feelings into physical symptoms. For example, suffering from migraines when you’re dealing with a difficult relationship.
Denial: This is refusing to accept reality because it is too painful or threatening.
Regression: This is temporarily reverting to an earlier stage of development to avoid handling problems and concerns in a more appropriate and adult way.
Distortion: This is totally reshaping your picture of reality so it’s now consistent with your internal needs.
Splitting: This is a primitive defense where the negative and positive aspects are split off – and there’s no integration of these parts at all. For example, the person may view others as being either completely good or completely evil, rather than a mixture of good and bad traits.
1. Don’t expect empathy, understanding or praise and recognition from a narcissistic person. Keep your private thoughts and feelings close to your heart, and don’t open up and make yourself vulnerable.
2. Expect them to be rude and to say offensive things.
3. Don’t be offended by the things they say and do as it’s not about you – they treat others the same way.
4. Make a lot of their achievements and praise them publicly as they’re always looking to be noticed and affirmed.
5. Don’t try to get a narcissist to see things differently as they’re not going to change, or be influenced by you.
6. Understand that a narcissist is going to drain you dry – and will guilt you into think that you haven’t done enough. But it’s actually not true. They just can’t be satisfied.
7. Don’t push for a meaningful relationship with them as it will always be one-sided … look for love from someone else.
1. Qualities and Traits of Extroverts
- Outgoing and sociable; may begin to feel down if they spend too time alone
- Active, energetic, enthusiastic and lively
- Expressive and affectionate
- Like adventure and new experiences
- Often seem courageous and confident
- Like to pursue a wide variety of interests
- Spontaneous and impulsive
- May have a low boredom threshold
2. Qualities and Traits of Introverts
- Prefer to think more and talk less
- Prefer solitary to group activities; find it exhausting being around people all the time
- Dislike being centre stage
- Makes carefully thought out decisions (Like to have all the facts available, and have time to weigh up all the pros and cons)
- More subdued and less excitable; may appear to be lacking in energy and enthusiasm
- May seem shy, detached and hard to get to know
- Prefers to focus on a few key interests than to be involved in a lot of different things
- Are good at amusing themselves.
3. Qualities and Traits of Ambiverts
Although many individuals will tend to demonstrate either more extroverts or introverts personalities, many others will feel they are a mixture of the two. These types of people are known as ambiverts. That is, ambiverts display the traits of introverts in some situations, and extroverts in others.
1. Sanguine: The person with this type of personality is impulsive, pleasure-seeking, outgoing, warm, friendly, sociable and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social events, meeting new people and making new friends. They are often lively, energetic and enthusiastic. They are also creative and imaginative. However, sanguine individuals are also sensitive, empathic and compassionate. On the downside, they may struggle with following tasks through to completion, good time keeping, being organised and remembering things.
2. Choleric: The person with this type of personality is ambitious, driven and likes to take control. They are often marked by energy, passion, determination, a clear focus and firm commitment to goals. They tend to dominate others and like to have their own way. On the downside, they may be impatient, intolerant of those who do things differently, and may be subject to mood swings.
3. Melancholic: The person with this type of personality is a deep thinker, who takes life seriously, and feels deeply about the things that matter to them. They are usually introverted, and very private, people. On the downside, they have a tendency to over-think problems, or to worry excessively about fairly minor things. They are usually independent, self-reliant, have strong principles and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist.
4. Phlegmatic: The person with this type of personality is laid back, relaxed, kind, contented and happy to go with the flow. They are non-judgmental, accepting, peace loving and flexible. On the downside, they may be viewed as lazy and lacking in passion, direction and energy. The phlegmatic person makes a wonderful friend!
What we refer to as a sociopath is officially a person diagnosed as suffering from antisocial personality disorder. This is the third time the name has changed. The original description was “morally insane.” This was later changed to someone with a “psychopathic personality” – before the most recent name change. Common characteristics include the following:
- · Superficial and insincere charm. Hence, they may blind people around them with their charm and wit - but it’s never genuine.
- · Being domineering, manipulative and abusive.
- · Expert con men. Have no problem lying; are often caught up in a web of lies, and display no remorse if their lying is uncovered.
- · View people as instruments and victims for their own use. In their mind, “the end justifies the means” so they don’t allow anyone to stand in their way.
- · Often derive pleasure from hurting and humiliating their victims.
- · Are in love with themselves, and have a grandiose sense of what they deserve and are entitled to. For example, they see themselves as being above the Law.
- · Beating the system and breaking the law without getting caught is a game for them. In fact, winning is the key motivator for this person – in everything they do and in all relationships.
- · Have shallow emotions. Any warm expressive shows are merely feigned and are likely to serve an ulterior motive. They’re incapable of love and can’t experience empathy. Hence, they’re contemptuous of those who feel and show distress.
- · Lack impulse control and live on the edge. They are huge risk takers so promiscuity, illegal drugs and gambling are all common. They are also likely to demonstrate criminal or entrepreneurial versatility.
- · Refuses to accept responsibility for their actions. Are quick to blame others even when it’s clear that they themselves are to blame.
- · Has a history of antisocial behaviours before age 15. This may take the form of repeatedly conning others, being disaffected at school, being involved in criminal activities (such as theft and arson), hurting others without remorse and being cruel to animals.
It is crucial to grasp that there is no known cure for a person diagnosed as a sociopath. In fact, it appears that therapy may even make them worse as they use what they’ve learned about human nature to exploit other peoples’ vulnerabilities. They then become more astute at manipulating others and have better excuses that are more believable.
Note: All psychopaths are sociopaths but not all sociopath are psychopaths. Psychopaths have an anti-social personality disorder that is accompanied by aggressiveness.
The eight most hated personality traits include the following:
- Arrogance – This is the know it all who looks down on others. They’re haughty, superior and proud.
- Rudeness – This includes being impolite, offensive, or embarrassing … and disregarding social norms and rules.
- Being domineering and overbearing – This individual like to take control of others, and dictate situations and events. They disregard the input and the feelings of others. It’s all about them, and what they think and want to do.
- Dishonesty – This is one of the most hated traits as it undermines trust – the glue that binds relationships. And once trust has been lost it is hard to regain
- Being moody and temperamental – It is hard to relate to temperamental individuals. They’re changeable, erratic and unpredictable. It can destroy the peace, put everyone on edge, and leave you feeling tired, worn out and drained.
- Unreliability – This also undermines and destroys the sense of trust that’s critical for forming good, and strong, relationships. You don’t know where you are – or if the plans will later change. Hence, it’s hard to feel at ease – or to delegate to others.
- Being overly dependent / always needing support – It’s exhausting when you always have to be there for others – to protect them from life’s blows and rebuild their self-esteem. You can’t just be yourself or focus solely on your life. You have to bolster them, and affirm their strengths and worth.
- Pessimism – We all feel negative and fed up at times. But the pessimist can never see the sun, or silver lining. They never stop complaining, are grumpy or mad, and very quickly sap any energy you had.
When it comes to following instructions or rules, what type of personality are you?
1. The Upholder: This type of person is comfortable with rules, whether they’re these are their own rules, or externally imposed rules. For example, an upholder will try to follow through on their New Year resolutions, or stick to a study or an exercise schedule. They will also hand in all their work on time, and pay their bills as soon as they arrive.
2. The Questioner: This type of person will only follow rules if they make sense to them. They tend to question everything, and decide what they are going to do on a case by case basis. Thus, they’ll only do what’s reasonable and logical – and they have to be convinced that the rules are reasonable and logical.
3. The Rebel: This type of person resists any kind of control at all. They always feel as if their rights are being infringed, or as if they’re being pressurised or dominated. Thus, they will typically ignore, flaunt, or react against any guidelines, instructions or rules.
4. The Obliger: This type of person complies with external requirements and rules, but can’t impose any rules on themselves. Hence, they’ll set up a plan with a personal trainer but won’t actually make it to the gym on their own.
1. Shy-secure people: Don’t have a strong need to be around people, and don’t tend to worry about talking to new people. They can socialise if they need to, but they general prefer to be by themselves and to do things on their own.
2. Shy-withdrawn people: Suffer from social anxiety. They are highly sensitive to perceived rejection, are anxious of negative evaluation, and are afraid of doing something embarrassing. They suffer more anxiety than people who are shy-withdrawn.
3. Shy-dependent people: Are overly helpful, accommodating, self-effacing and compliant. They have a strong need to be with other people but they feel they are inferior or “not good enough”. They have good social skills and are pleasant company – but they give up their true self in their desire to fit in.
4. Shy-conflicted people: Vacillate between wanting to be around other people and then pulling back (as social situations are a real source of stress). This group of people experience the most stress and anxiety.
For more information see: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200909/all-introversion-is-not-the-same
The Western world demands that we be extroverts. This can be stressful for an introverted person who feels she has to act, or change her personality. If you experience this, perhaps the following tips may help:
1. Most important, don’t feel bad about being an introvert. Be proud of who you are, and affirm your gifts and strengths. Remember, there’s no one ideal type of personality
2. Try and speak out more – even though you find it hard – as your viewpoints won’t be noticed if they’re never shared or heard. And what you think’s important – you deserve to have your say.
3. Give yourself a break and sometimes miss social events. There’s no point adding stress by doing more than you enjoy. Why should you go to everything, and not spend time alone?
4. Make sure you take the time to recharge your batteries – as spending time with people may tire and wear you out.
5. Also, take small breaks when you are part of a crowd. Try and just excuse yourself and spend a few moments alone.