Personality Disorders

What is a personality disorder?

A personality isn’t a biological per se, it’s behavioral. Therefore, a personality disorder is a set of behaviors that don’t work. A set of behaviors that render the individual dysfunctional within relationships, in their careers, and with their health. Marsha Linehan developed 4 skills areas to develop. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches social skills. Emotion regulation teaches emotional intelligence. Distress tolerance teaches emotional crisis coping skills. And, mindfulness teaches grounding skills that is needed in all of the skills mentioned.

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


Certain types of psychotherapy are effective for treating personality disorders. During psychotherapy, an individual can gain insight and knowledge about the disorder and what is contributing to symptoms, and can talk about thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Psychotherapy can help a person understand the effects of their behavior on others and learn to manage or cope with symptoms and to reduce behaviors causing problems with functioning and relationships. The type of treatment will depend on the specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the individual’s circumstances.

Family members can be important in an individual’s recovery and can work with the individual’s health care provider on the most effective ways to help and support. But having a family member with a personality disorder can also be distressing and stressful. Family members may benefit from talking with a mental health provider who can provide help coping with difficulties.

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