Are conditions in which an individual differs significantly from an average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others. Changes in how a person feels and distorted beliefs about other people can lead to odd behaviour, which can be distressing and may upset others. In England, it is estimated that around 1 in 20 people has a personality disorder. Many people have only mild conditions so only need help at times of stress (such as bereavement).
The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that makes each of us the individuals that we are. We don’t always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way – it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us, and many other things. But mostly we do tend to behave in fairly predictable ways or patterns. And so we can be described as shy, selfish, lively and so on. We each have a set of these patterns and this set makes up our personality.
Generally speaking, personality doesn’t change very much, but it does develop as we go through different experiences in life and as our circumstances change. So as we mature with time, our thinking, feelings and behaviour all change. We are usually flexible enough to learn from past experiences and to change our behaviour to cope with life more effectively. If you have a personality disorder, you are likely to find this more difficult. Your patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are more difficult to change and you will have a more limited range of emotions, attitudes and behaviours with which to cope with everyday life. This can make things difficult for you and/or for other people.
If you have a personality disorder, you may find that your beliefs and attitudes are different from others. They may find your behaviour unusual or unexpected, and may find it difficult to spend time with you. This, of course, can make you feel very hurt and insecure; you may end up avoiding the company of others.
There are ten different types of personality disorder and are grouped into three categories:
|Suspicious||Emotional & Impulsive||Anxious|
One person may meet the criteria for several different types of personality disorder, while a wide range of people may fit the criteria for the same disorder, despite having very different personalities.
A detailed description can be found on the MIND website: www.mind.org.uk