What is a personality disorder ?

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free psychological tests

One’s personality may be defined as a combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

This combination of characteristics acts as an interface with which we interact with ourselves and the world around us. One of the functions of our personality is to preserve self-image and help one deal with the external world. We all know that different people tend to interpret events differently. While some may be able to breeze through life with little or no distress others may have to struggle and fight their way through the journey of life.

Our personality defines how we think, feel and behave; our subjective view of ourselves and the world is painted by our personality.

Lets say there are 10 people who get fired from work due to various reasons. A couple of these people may perceive this as a setback and try their best to move forward. A couple might dwell in resentment and stay stuck while there just may be one who is looking for ways to get back at the employer. While there may be several background factors that may lead to their reactions, the primary force behind how one responds to the world is their personality.

What is a personality disorder?

A personality disorder, as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that differs markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.

Some people carry a combination of characteristics that consistently puts them in conflict with themselves and/or others via aberrant ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, these people are said to have personality disorders. These pervasive patterns of distressing, inflexible thoughts, emotions and behaviors often cluster into specific groups which make the behavior of those with personality disorders predictable and rigid.

For example

Shruthi has always been seen as a hot head, she often looses control over her emotions and indulges in acts or threats of self harm. She defines herself by the relationships she has and often would do anything to avoid being abandoned. She has a tendency to blame others and people often have to tread carefully around her out of a fear of “triggering” her. She is kind and loving, but people don’t seem to understand her.

Shruthi may be suffering from something called a “borderline personality disorder

Raghav has always been the shy guy in class. Though a ball of fun when surrounded by friends, he has difficulty talking to people he does not know. He often avoids situations due to a need for physical or mental security. He holds a deep fear of being criticized and often would go to any length to avoid judgment or criticism.

Raghav may be suffering from something called an “Anxious avoidant personality disorder

Why do you need to know about personality disorders?

Personality disorders interfere with one’s optimal life experience. People with personality issues tend to have little insight into their issues and often stick to coping mechanisms that get them stuck in repetitive patterns of thought and behavior. Identification is the first step in management. Developing an insight into one’s own personality and coping styles gives one the opportunity to learn effective ways to cope with stress and deal with adversity.

Personality disorders are often under-reported and under treated. Divorce, self harm, suicide and violent crimes are some adverse social outcomes that can be addressed by addressing personality issues. People with personality disorders are often seen as being “difficult”, that isn’t true. They are misunderstood. This can change, people will start seeking help once they know what is happening to them. This makes it critically important for everyone to know that “personality disorders” exist and that help is available for those who suffer from it.

Tests for personality disorders

The vivid mind project offers the following tests for personality disorders.