Personality Disorders 411

Drashti, Suzanne, Matt

Personality Overview

  • Long-lasting rigid patterns of thought and behavior

  • Enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates significantly from the culture; can be traced back to beginnings of adulthood

  • Must cause significant distress or impairment in personal, social and/or occupational situations

  • Tend to be integral part of a person and are difficult to treat or cure

Breakthroughs- In Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Most have suffered childhood abuse

  • The screening tool used to diagnose may not be entirely correct

  • Research has linked a faulty gene and a malfunctioning body clock to the disease

  • Combination of transference-focused psychotherapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and supportive psychotherapy achieve best results

Borderline Personality (Cognitive)

  • Pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. People with borderline personality disorder are also usually very impulsive.
  • Usually in early adulthood


  • marked instability in self-image, mood, relationships

  • trying to avoid real or imagined abandonment

  • unstable and intense relationships

  • identity problems, feelings of self-hate and self-loathing

  • impulsive and risking behavior, mood swings, suicidal thoughts

Causes (Biological and Psychosocial)

  • May be inherited, may have history of childhood abuse, neglect or separation, some research shows changes in brains areas in mood regulation, impulsivity and aggression: brain chemicals like serotonin may not be functioning properly

Treatments (biological and psychoanalytic)

  • Dialectical behavior therapy; cognitive behavioral therapy; mentalization-based therapy; schema-focused therapy; transference-forced psychotherapy

  • Medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs

  • hospitalization might be needed for suicidal thoughts or self-harm

Antisocial Personality Disorder (Cognitive and Biological)

  • Showing little sense of remorse while lying, cheating, stealing

  • Often referred to as psychopathy or sociopathy


  • Disregard for right and wrong, lying

  • Egocentrism, difficulties with law

  • Child abuse(the abuser), abusive relationships, aggression

  • Lack of empathy, risk-taking

  • Animal cruelty alcohol and drug abuse

Causes (Biological)

  • Genes that make people vulnerable: life situations trigger its development

  • Environmental factors such as child abuse at an young age may also be a factor

Treatment- (psychoanalytic and biological)

  • Psychotherapy, antipsychotic, antidepressant

  • Mood-stabilizing medications

  • If extreme, then hospitalization or self help may also be used.

  • Most people don’t seek treatment because they don’t believe they have it

Dependent Personality Disorder (Biological and Psychoanalytic)

  • Inability to make decisions or act independently

  • Often characterized by pessimism or self-doubt

  • Seek over protection and dominance from others. Take criticism as worthlessness and lose faith in themselves


  • Has difficulty making everyday decisions

  • Needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas

  • Has difficulty expressing disagreement with others. Goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others

  • Feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone

  • Urgently seeks another relationship

  • Is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself


  • Central to their psychodynamic constellation is an insecure form of attachment to others, which may be the result of clinging parental behavior

  • Some researchers believe an authoritarian or overprotective parenting style can lead to the development of dependent personality traits.

Treatment (Biological and Psychoanalytic)

  • Therapy may include individual, couples, group, and family.

  • Different approaches to therapy include postdynamic based on assumptions person is having emotional problems, and also interpersonal which is the interaction person has with close family and friends.

  • Medications- Antidepressant and anxiety if diagnosed with depression.

Avoidant Personality Disorder (Biological and Psychoanalytic)

  • Marked social anxiety leading to isolation

  • Might cause social phobia, dependent personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.


  • Avoids occupational activities

  • Is unwilling to get involved with people

  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships

  • Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations

  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy

  • Views himself as socially inept


  • Most professionals subscribe to a biopsychosocial model of causation

  • Factors such as how a person interacts in their early development with their family and friends and other children, and psychological factors


  • Talk therapy

  • Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants may be prescribed