Personality Disorders

What is a personality disorder?

A personality isn’t biological per se, it’s behavioral. Therefore, a personality disorder is a set of behaviors that render the individual dysfunctional within relationships, in their careers, and with their health. A psychologist named Marsha Linehan determined that in order to achieve change, there are  four skills areas that need to be  to developed. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches social skills. Emotion regulation teaches emotional intelligence. Distress tolerance provides the skills to cope when faced with emotional crises. And, mindfulness teaches grounding tools that are utilized to master these other skills.

Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others
  • Way of responding emotionally
  • Way of relating to other people
  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

Treatment

Certain types of psychotherapy are effective for treating personality disorders. The type of treatment depends on the specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the individual’s circumstances. Through psychotherapy, an individual can gain insight and knowledge about the disorder and what is contributing to their symptoms. People engaged in psychotherapy can talk about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Psychotherapy can help a person understand the effects of their behavior on others, and can teach them to manage or cope with symptoms while reducing behaviors that cause problems with functioning and relationships.

Family members can be important in an individual’s recovery and can work with the individual’s mental health care provider on the most effective ways to provide help and support.

Having a loved one with a personality disorder can be distressing. Family members may benefit from talking with a mental health provider who can provide help coping with difficulties.

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