When thoughts, behaviors and relationships with others become difficult and complicated, it can be a personality disorder. Recognizing it is not so simple and sometimes takes time.
Everyone has one or a few personality traits that people do not necessarily appreciate, but in a personality disorder, these traits are rigid and pervasive, so that they bring suffering or harm to adaptation and functioning in different situations.
Personality disorders result from a persistent and inappropriate use of adaptive strategies or behaviors that may be useful for the survival of the species (avoidance, resistance, aggression, isolation ...). While the normal person uses one of these strategies appropriately, in response to a particular situation, the person who suffers from a personality disorder uses them permanently, rigidly and compulsively, even when these strategies are clearly disadvantageous.
Personality disorder is problematic
There are many personality disorders, all cited in the "Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Illnesses", the DSM, the bible of psychiatrists. In all cases, whether in the case of borderline, paranoid, antisocial, or narcissistic personality, there is always a different psychical functioning that profoundly affects relations with others and adaptation to the environment.
The personality disorder always causes suffering for the person but also difficulties in integrating professionally, or maintaining an emotional relationship over time, whether as a couple or in friendship. The result is suffering, depression, anxiety ...
There are different personality disorders
Common language gives pride of place to so-called borderline, obsessional or paranoid personalities, even if it most often only corresponds to personality traits and not real disorders. The following pathological personalities are the most common:
• The paranoid personality is characterized by a suspicious mistrust towards others whose intentions are interpreted as malicious.
• The antisocial personality is characterized by contempt and transgression of the rights of others.
• Borderline personality is characterized by marked impulsiveness and instability of interpersonal relationships and affects.
• The narcissistic personality is characterized by fantasies or grandiose behavior, a need to be admired and a lack of empathy.
• The histrionic personality is characterized by excessive emotional responses and a permanent quest for the attention of others.
• The obsessive personality is characterized by a permanent concern for order, perfection and permanent control of the environment.
But there are other pathological personalities (schizoid, avoidant ...).
What differentiates a personality disorder from other psychiatric illnesses?
Personality disorders usually appear in adolescence or in young adults. Unlike depression or bipolar disorder, for example, they are long-lasting, rigid, and persistent in all areas of life, whether personal, professional, family or social.
Although each disorder has its own symptoms, some signs are common to all and can make the difference with other psychiatric illnesses:
• The disorders of the thought,
• Emotional responses unsuitable for a situation,
• Relationship difficulties with others,
• The difficulty of controlling one's impulses and behavior.
How to diagnose ?
Even for a psychiatrist, the diagnosis of a personality disorder is not always easy and often takes several years.
If you have a tendency to be a little addicted, avoid, obsessive, or narcissistic, it is probably that you are quite normal. On the other hand, if it causes problems in your life and suffering, it is best to consult.
For doctors, personality traits are only considered diagnostic criteria when they are rigid and inappropriate and they interfere with social, professional or family functioning.
It is this inflexibility that distinguishes the person who suffers from a personality disorder from the one who also has lasting modalities of functioning, but whose personality traits are more flexible or who is capable of changing his or her behavior for better behavior. to adapt to different situations.
Thus, stability through the years and in different situations is a very important diagnostic criterion for the diagnosis of personality disorder.