Posts tagged personality disorders

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Personality Facts

We each have our own personality – that unique part of us that makes us who we are. It affects every aspect of our lives - from who we date, to what we study, to what we like to do. So what do we know about personality?

1. Birth order can affect our personality: There are traits we associate with being a first born (being bossy, motivated, high achievers or more driven); with being a middle born (being friendly, people pleasers, and quite skilled negotiators); and being a last-born (being amusing, more laid back, and also less responsible). Empirical research supports these norms and trends.

2. There are Five Core Personality Traits: These are measures of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness.

3. Personality remains stable through life: The research findings are less conclusive here. It may be that some core traits are less susceptible to change. However, traits which seem less fixed and less stable over time include anxiety levels, friendliness and eagerness for novel experiences.

4. Certain personalities are more prone to disease: There appears to be a link between one of the “big 5 traits” (neuroticism) and proneness to developing headaches, asthma, arthritis, peptic ulcers and heart disease. There is also a link between having a Type A personality (and, in particular, scoring high on the hostility levels) and developing cancer and heart disease.

5. Our personality affects our personal preferences: The impact here is surprisingly far reaching. It includes: our choice of friends and partner, our taste in music, our political preferences, our career choices, our preferred holiday destinations and so on.

6. People can tell your personality from your facebook profile: Interestingly, although you might expect people to project an ideal online identity, research indicates that facebook profiles actually tend to convey our real personality. Sam Gosling, a key psychologist and author, has explained this in the following way: “I think that being able to express personality accurately contributes to the popularity of online social networks in two ways …First, it allows profile owners to let others know who they are and, in doing so, satisfies a basic need to be known by others. Second, it means that profile viewers feel they can trust the information they glean from online social network profiles, building their confidence in the system as a whole.”

7. There are a number of factors that contribute to personality disorders: An estimated 10 to 15% of adults are diagnosed with at least one personality disorder in their lifetime.  Factors contributing to the onset of these include: Genetics, relationships with family and peers, inheriting high levels of sensitivity, childhood abuse and experiencing a trauma.

8. Your pet may reveal your personality: Many people consider themselves to be either a “dog person” or a “cat person”? Research into pet preference and personality indicates that dog lovers tend to be more extroverted and greater people pleasers, whereas cat lovers tend to be more introverted and curious.

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Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)

Dependent Personality Disorder is a mental illness which results in submissive and clinging behavior, a fear of separation and an inappropriate reliance on others. The DPD sufferer often feels helpless or unable to cope independently - and frequently seeks to transfer responsibility for their well-being onto another. People who suffer from DPD often maintain a very small number of relationships with people who provide for them the kind of environment that protects them from having to take responsibility for themselves.

Some Common DPD Traits

Avoidance - The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

Catastrophizing - The habit of automatically assuming a “worst case scenario”

Dependency - An inappropriate and chronic reliance on another individual for their personal and emotional well-being.

Engulfment  - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a partner or family member, which comes from imagining they can only exist within the context of that relationship.

Fear of abandonment – Fearing that they will be rejected, discarded or replaced by someone else.

Feelings of emptiness - A chronic and acute sense of nothingness

Lack of object constancy – Being unable to see others as being consistent, trustworthy and reliable.

Panic Attacks - Short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as hyperventilating, shaking, sweating and chills.

Self-Victimization - Casting oneself as a victim in order to control others by soliciting a sympathetic response from them.

Testing - Repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to the relationship.

Source: (abridged)

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8 Strange Sleep Disorders

1. Nightmare disorder: When the occasional nightmare becomes a common problem, so you wake up in a sweat or you’re afraid to go to sleep, then you could be suffering from nightmare disorder. According to the American Sleep Association, stress and sleep deprivation are the main triggers for this disorder.

2. Sleep walking: The causes of sleep walking are not fully known – although genetics, broken sleep and stress are thought to play a role. Sleepwalkers open doors, move their furniture around, and move from room to room with no trouble at all. According to the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry, 19 percent of adult sleepwalkers have been injured while sleep walking. The main risks are tripping and falling.

3. Exploding head syndrome: This disorder occurs at the onset of deep sleep, when a loud noise awakens up someone who’s just fallen asleep. These sounds range from explosives going off inside their head, to cymbals crashing loudly, right next to their bed. Of course, there’s no actual sound – so it’s all a mystery. The person’s not at risk - and there’s no obvious cause.

4. Hypnagogic hallucinations: These occur as the person is falling sleep or at the end of the night as they start to waken up. The person’s sure they can hear voices, or they experience strange sensations, or they report seeing people or weird objects in the room. A common vision sufferers have is seeing small animals or thinking they see bugs crawling over the walls. According to the American Sleep Association, these kinds of sleep-related hallucinations are most frequently reported in people with narcolepsy.

5. Night terrors: This is where the person (and most commonly a child) starts to scream, thrash around, or to pace about the room. However, they can’t be wakened up or be comforted. They are trapped in this world that is threatening to them. Night terrors are different from nightmares as they occur in non-REM sleep (the deepest type of sleep that occurs early at night). Although the cause is still unknown, fever and stress may play a role.

6. Sleep paralysis: This occurs in REM sleep, later on in the night, when the person is having a very vivid dream - but is also temporarily immobilised. Thus, although they want to move or to quickly run away they find they’re paralysed, and are rooted to the spot. Often sleep paralysis and sleep hallucinations occur simultaneously. Common images and sensations include sensing an evil presence in the room, or feeling they’re being crushed or choked. In Newfoundland, Canada, this is known as the “Old Hag”; in China, it’s called “the ghost pressing down on you”; and in Mexico, it is described as being “the dead climbing on top of you.”

7. REM behaviour disorder: This occurs during REM sleep, where the sleeper starts to act out the content of their dreams. Thus, they may get out of bed and then start to run around; or they may scream and yell, or they may start to get dressed. It is seen most in older adults, and especially in those who’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.   

8. Nocturnal eating disorder: People diagnosed with this sleep disorder go on eating binges when they’re fast asleep. Some chop up meat and vegetables, or turn on the stove, and then go back to bed without tidying up the mess. Others eat raw foods like onions or fresh meat, or they eat frozen food or unusual types of food (like margarine straight from the margarine tub). Like sleepwalking, it occurs during non-REM sleep. There is no known cause.

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What are the Signs of a Narcissist?

1. They are arrogant and have a sense of entitlement: This is one of the key indicators of a narcissist. He or she believes that they are special, superior to others and deserve to be treated better than others. They like to brag of their successes and accomplishments, and want everyone to tell them how wonderful they are. At social events, they must be the centre of attention, and everyone must talk about what he or she wants to talk about.

2. They use and exploit other people:  The narcissist sees people as being there for them. Hence, they use other people to help them reach their goals. Also, they’ll often prey on others, and use them sexually. So they’ll charm, seduce and use you – then rapidly move on. he damage, or the heartache they may cause.

3. They lack empathy: The narcissistic person can’t form relationships. To them feelings don’t matter; they don’t have empathy. They don’t care about the damage on the heartache they may cause. Also, they won’t support or help you when life is difficult.

4. They have poor boundaries: The narcissistic person won’t respect your boundaries. They’ll take what’s yours and use it – and see that as their right. They’re rude, they insult others, they comment on their looks, and violate the standards that others see as just.

Some tips on dealing with a narcissist

(a) First, you need to recognise your personal vulnerabilities so you don’t get taken in by a charming narcissist – who makes you feel you’re special, or the best thing in this world. (b)Second, understand this individual is not a normal person. They won’t be there for you as they don’t have empathy. Recognise those telltale signs which indicate they’re self-obsessed.

(c) Third, establish and maintain healthy, stringent boundaries.

(d) Finally, if it’s always about them and there’s no real give and take, recognise you should move on and get that person out your life.

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Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a form of child abuse in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child. This syndrome almost always involves a mother abusing her child by seeking unneeded medical attention for the child. She may fake symptoms of illness in her child by adding blood to the child’s urine or stool, withholding food, falsifying fevers, secretly giving the child drugs to make the child throw up or have diarrhea, or using other tricks, such as infecting intravenous (given through a vein) lines to make the child appear or become ill. These children are often hospitalized with groups of symptoms that don’t quite fit any known disease. Frequently, the children are made to suffer through unnecessary tests, surgeries, or other uncomfortable procedures.

The parent is usually very helpful in the hospital setting and is often appreciated by the nursing staff for the care she gives her child. She is often seen as devoted and self-sacrificing, which can make medical professionals unlikely to suspect the diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Her frequent visits unfortunately also make the child accessible to her so that she can induce further symptoms. Changes in the child’s condition are almost never witnessed by hospital staff and almost always occur only in the mother’s presence.

Munchausen syndrome occurs because of psychological problems in the adult, and is generally an attention-seeking behavior. The syndrome can be life-threatening for the child involved.


·         The child’s symptoms do not fit a classical picture of illness or do not fit together well.

·         The child’s symptoms improve at the hospital but reappear at home.

·         The parent is overattentive or “too helpful.”

·         The parent is often involved in a health-care field, such as nursing.

Exams and Tests

·         Blood samples used for lab work do not match the patient’s blood type.

·         The presence of drugs or chemicals in blood, stool, or urine samples cannot be accounted for.


Once the syndrome is recognized, the child needs to be protected and removed from direct care of the parent. The affected parent should not be accused directly, but offered help.

Because this is a form of child abuse, the syndrome must be reported to the authorities.

Children may require medical care to treat injuries the parent inflicted, as well as psychiatric care to deal with depression, anxiety, and other conditions that can be provoked by child abuse. Some children may die from infections or other injuries inflicted by parents with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.


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Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others, along with social isolation. The causes are unknown. This disorder may be related to schizophrenia and it shares many of the same risk factors.

However, schizoid personality disorder is not as disabling as schizophrenia. It does not cause hallucinations, delusions, or the complete disconnection from reality that occurs in untreated (or treatment-resistant) schizophrenia.


A person with this diagnosis:

·         Appears aloof and detached

·         Avoids social activities that involve emotional intimacy with other people

·         Does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members

People with this disorder rarely seek treatment, and little is known about which treatments work. Talk therapy may not be effective, because people with schizoid personality disorder have difficulty relating well to others. However, one approach that appears to help is to put fewer demands for intimacy on the person. People with schizoid personality disorder often do better in relationships that do not focus on emotional closeness. They are better at handling relationships that focus only on recreation, work, or intellectual activities and expectations.

Expectations (prognosis)

Schizoid personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) illness that usually does not improve over time. Social isolation often prevents the person from seeking the help or support that might improve the outcome.


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Do you Suffer from Misophonia?

Misophonia is literally the hatred of sound. Usually the sufferer is hypersensitive to the kinds of background sounds or visual stimuli that are other people can easily block out. However, in the case of the person with misophonia, they act as triggers for intense emotional reactions (such as feelings of panic or a torrent of rage).

To hang on to their sanity the sufferer withdraws and isolates themselves from activities and people. It can lead to the break up of relationships and destroy opportunities for having a career. Saying that, not all people have as serious reactions, and some are only bothered by a few stimuli.

Key trigger stimuli that cause a reaction are listed in categories below.

1. Mouth and Eating: Chewing, crunching, sucking, gulping, slurping, swallowing, burping, the sound of cutlery against teeth, others talking with food in their mouth, spitting, nail biting and kissing.

2. Breathing and nasal: Loud or soft breathing, yawning, wheezing, snoring, nose whistling, sniffing, clearing your throat, coughing and hiccups.

3. Vocal: Singing, humming, whistling, gravelly or nasally voices, soft voices, the overuse of certain words, muffled talking and laughter.

4. Body movements: The shuffling of feet on floor, the sound of flip flops, heavy footsteps, hand and foot rubbing,  cracking your knuckles or joints, finger tapping and scratching sounds.

5. Visual stimuli: Repetitive foot or body movements, playing with your hair, fidgeting, jerks and tics, blinking eyes, blinking lights, web animations, any movement you observe out of the corner of your eyes.

6. Environment: The list here could be almost endless, and includes - texting, the sound of a keyboard/mouse, clicking pens, the sound of pen on paper, paper rustling or being ripped, ticking clocks, clattering dishes, the sound of cutlery on crockery, crinkling food packages or wrappers, the noise of traffic, construction, lawnmowers, balls bouncing, cars, car doors slamming, back-up beepers, other people’s music, muffled bass music or TV through walls, electronic humming, dogs barking, bird song, crickets, frogs, dogs or cat licking, dripping water, creaking floors and so on.

Currently, there is no known cure for Misophonia – although CBT can help some individuals.

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The top 8 most bizarre personality disorders

Millions of people across the world are diagnosed as suffering from mental illness. And though most of those are disorders are common and well-known (such as depression, anxiety and phobias) there are also some unusual and bizarre disorders. For example:

1. Stockholm Syndrome – Typically seen in abducted hostages, this is where the captive shows signs of sympathy, compassion and loyalty towards the hostage taker. This occurs regardless of the way they have been treated – and even where they’ve been tortured or their life is under threat.  

2. Lima Syndrome – This is the opposite of the previous syndrome. It’s where the hostage taker is extremely concerned for the plight and wellbeing of the hostages.

3. Diogenes Syndrome – This disorder is marked by severe self neglect, compulsive hoarding, reclusive tendencies, and keeping large numbers of animals at home.

4. Paris Syndrome – This is very exclusive disorder … one restricted to Japanese tourists in Paris (It’s true!) The sufferer experiences a total mental breakdown when the city fails to meet their cultural expectations (Paris is rarely as polite, romantic, peaceful and idyllic as the tourists had imagined). To cope with this experience, their embassy established a 24hr hotline to help those with the syndrome.

5. Jerusalem Syndrome – People diagnosed with this particular disorder experience delusions and spontaneous psychosis after visiting a holy city. To date, all identified sufferers have had a history of mental illness, or some kind of psychosis.

6. Capgras Delusion – In this rare disorder, the individual believes that a friend or family member has been abducted and replaced by an impostor (who looks identical to them). It is generally seen in those with schizophrenia, dementia, or some kind of brain injury.

7. Fregoli Delusion – This is the exact opposite of Capgras delusion. It is the false belief that numerous different people are actually one person who keeps changing their disguise.

8. Cotard Delusion – A person suffering from this delusion believes that they don’t exist, are dead, are putrefying or have no blood or internal organs.

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Facts and Stats on Mental Illness

1.    1 in 5 people in the Western world will battle mental illness. The other 4 in 5 will have a friend, relative, classmate or colleague who suffers from mental illness.

2.    Mental illness affects a person’s mood, thought processes and actions. It is usually a source of considerable distress.

3.    Symptoms vary depending on the person, and range from mild to severe.

4.    Approximately 20% of those diagnosed with some form of mental illness will also battle substance abuse.

5.    In terms of onset, 70% of mental health problems first appear in childhood or adolescence.

6.    The highest reporting age group are those between 15 and 24 years.

7.    Males are 2 to 3 times more likely than females to be diagnosed with some kind of substance dependency. Also, 25% of male drinkers fall into the high-risk drinkers category, compared to only 9% of female drinkers.

8.    However, females are approximately 1.5 times more likely to meet the criteria for a mood or anxiety disorder than men.

9.    Those in the lowest income households are significantly more likely to report having poor to fair mental health than those in the highest income households.

10. A significant proportion (estimated at around one-third) of those requiring mental health services actually receive the help they need. The majority do not.

11. The fact that people are less likely to tell friends or coworkers that a family member has a mental illness indicates that stigma is a major problem.

12. In fact, when interviewed a large number of people admitted that they would stop socialising with a friend who was known to have a serious mental illness.

13. Almost half the population think the term mental illness is simply an excuse for bad behaviour and/ or a lack of personal responsibility.

14. Mental illness is one of the highest causes of disability and premature death.

15. The World Health Organization estimates that depression will be the single largest medical burden on health by the year 2020.

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Personality Disorders

DSM-IV lists ten different personality disorders. These are grouped into three clusters: odd or eccentric disorders; dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders; and anxious or fearful disorders. These can be summarised as follows:

1.   Odd or Eccentric Disorders

a) Paranoid personality disorder: This is characterised by irrational suspicions and a deep mistrust of others.

b) Schizoid personality disorder: This is characterised by a lack of interest in other people, and no need or desire for relationships.

c) Schizotypal personality disorder: This is characterised by bizarre thought patterns and behaviours.

2.   Dramatic, Emotional or Erratic Disorders

a) Antisocial personality disorder: This is characterised by a blatant and pervasive disregard for authority, the law and the rights of others.

b) Borderline personality disorder: This is characterised by rigid, categorical and extreme “black and white” thinking. Also, instability in their relationships with others, a poor self-image, low self-esteem, impulsivity and behaviour which results in self-harm.

c) Histrionic personality disorder: This is characterised by attention-seeking behaviour. For example, behaving in ways that are inappropriately seductive, or displaying exaggerated emotions.

d) Narcissistic personality disorder: This is characterised by grandiose claims and behaviours, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. This individual also finds it hard to relate in meaningful ways to others.

3.   Anxious or Fearful Disorders

a) Avoidant personality disorder: This is characterised by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation, and avoidance of social situations.

b) Dependent personality disorder: This is characterised by an inappropriate psychological dependence on others.

c) Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (This is different from obsessive-compulsive disorder): It is characterised by rigid conformity to rules and moral codes – with an excessive need for orderliness.

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Borderline Personality Disorder

The main feature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive.

This disorder occurs in most by early adulthood. The unstable pattern of interacting with others has persisted for years and is usually closely related to the person’s self-image and early social interactions. The pattern is present in a variety of settings (e.g., not just at work or home) and often is accompanied by a similar lability (fluctuating back and forth, sometimes in a quick manner) in a person’s emotions and feelings. Relationships and the person’s emotion may often be characterized as being shallow. A person with this disorder will also often exhibit impulsive behaviors and have a majority of the following symptoms:

·         Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

·         A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

·         Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self

·         Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

·         Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

·         Emotional instability due to significant reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

·         Chronic feelings of emptiness

·         Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

·         Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms

As with all personality disorders, the person must be at least 18 years old before they can be diagnosed with it. Borderline personality disorder is more prevalent in females (75 percent of diagnoses made are in females). It is thought that borderline personality disorder affects approximately 2 percent of the general population. Like most personality disorders, borderline personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s.

Details about Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

1.    Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment: The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, emotion, thinking and behavior. Someone with borderline personality disorder will be very sensitive to things happening around them in their environment. They experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger, even when faced with a realistic separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans. For instance, becoming very angry with someone for being a few minutes late or having to cancel a lunch date. People with borderline personality disorder may believe that this abandonment implies that they are “bad.” These abandonment fears are related to an intolerance of being alone and a need to have other people with them. Their frantic efforts to avoid abandonment may include impulsive actions such as self-mutilating or suicidal behaviors.

2.    Unstable and intense relationships: People with borderline personality disorder may idealize potential caregivers or lovers at the first or second meeting, demand to spend a lot of time together, and share the most intimate details early in a relationship. However, they may switch quickly from idealizing other people to devaluing them, feeling that the other person does not care enough, does not give enough, is not “there” enough. These individuals can empathize with and nurture other people, but only with the expectation that the other person will “be there” in return to meet their own needs on demand. These individuals are prone to sudden and dramatic shifts in their view of others, who may alternately be seen as beneficient supports or as cruelly punitive. Such shifts other reflect disillusionment with a caregiver whose nurturing qualities had been idealized or whose rejection or abandonment is expected.

3.    Identity disturbance: There are sudden and dramatic shifts in self-image, characterized by shifting goals, values and vocational aspirations. There may be sudden changes in opinions and plans about career, sexual identity, values and types of friends. These individuals may suddenly change from the role of a needy supplicant for help to a righteous avenger of past mistreatment. Although they usually have a self-image that is based on being bad or evil, individuals with borderline personality disorder may at times have feelings that they do not exist at all. Such experiences usually occur in situations in which the individual feels a lack of a meaningful relationship, nurturing and support. These individuals may show worse performance in unstructured work or school situations.

How is Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder are typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Family physicians and general practitioners are generally not trained or well-equipped to make this type of psychological diagnosis. So while you can initially consult a family physician about this problem, they should refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. There are no laboratory, blood or genetic tests that are used to diagnose borderline personality disorder.

Many people with borderline personality disorder don’t seek out treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact a person’s life. This most often happens when a person’s coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or other life events.

A diagnosis for borderline personality disorder is made by a mental health professional comparing your symptoms and life history with those listed here. They will make a determination whether your symptoms meet the criteria necessary for a personality disorder diagnosis.

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Researchers today don’t know what causes borderline personality disorder. There are many theories, however, about the possible causes of borderline personality disorder. Most professionals subscribe to a biopsychosocial model of causation — that is, the causes of are likely due to biological and genetic factors, social factors (such as how a person interacts in their early development with their family and friends and other children), and psychological factors (the individual’s personality and temperament, shaped by their environment and learned coping skills to deal with stress). This suggests that no single factor is responsible — rather, it is the complex and likely intertwined nature of all three factors that are important. If a person has this personality disorder, research suggests that there is a slightly increased risk for this disorder to be “passed down” to their children.

Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment of borderline personality disorder typically involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. Medications may also be prescribed to help with specific troubling and debilitating symptoms.


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