What are personality Disorders?

A personality disorder is a pervasive, inflexible, enduring pattern of maladaptive inner experience and behaviour, that deviates from social norm and causes impairments in social, occupational and biological functioning. Simply put, personality disorders comprise of a set of highly ineffective and rigid ways of coping with life.

One's personality develops as a consequence of a complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors. People with personality disorders display distortions in self image, mood regulation, control of impulses and interpersonal functioning. Personality disorders skew one's peception of external events in a way that puts them at constant conflict with themselves or others. 

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in our understanding of personality disorders, ushering in a more compassionate and effective approach. The traditional diagnostic framework for personality disorders, which often relied on categorical diagnoses like "borderline personality disorder," is gradually becoming obsolete. This transformation is primarily driven by the adoption of a dimensional approach, which recognizes that personality disorders are better understood as a complex interplay of various traits and characteristics rather than rigid categories.

The dimensional approach acknowledges that personality disorders exist on a spectrum, and individuals may exhibit a wide range of traits and symptoms, each with varying degrees of intensity. This perspective emphasizes key personality dimensions such as impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, and identity disturbances. Rather than attempting to fit individuals into predefined diagnostic boxes, this approach allows mental health professionals to assess and address these dimensions in a more holistic manner.

This shift towards a dimensional perspective offers several advantages. First and foremost, it reduces the stigmatization associated with older diagnostic labels like "borderline personality disorder," recognizing that these labels oversimplified the complex nature of these conditions. Secondly, it enables a more precise and personalized approach to treatment. Therapies and, when necessary, medications can be tailored to address the specific combination and intensity of traits within each individual's unique profile.

By considering personality dimensions, the treatment approach becomes more nuanced and effective, offering individuals with personality disorders a more hopeful and optimistic outlook for their future. This evolving paradigm aligns better with our understanding of the intricate and multifaceted nature of these conditions, ultimately contributing to improved outcomes for those seeking help and support.

Most of us have a few traits from each of the personality types. When disturbances in relationships, work or play arise from these aberrant personality traits, it becomes a personality disorder. Poor insight is the norm in people suffering from personality issues. It becomes very important for loved ones to recognize sub optimal coping mechanism and seek care when appropriate. Though considered untreatable in the past, difficult personality traits can respond well to psychotherapy, behavioral techniques and medication. 

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Psychiatry is a medical speciality, like surgery, general medicine and paediatrics. It involves the study, diagnosis and management of mental illnesses and distressing conditons, pertaining to both the mind and body. Misconceptions about psychiatric illness and treatment have some how prevented help seeking behaviour in those who need it the most. This Wall has to go, wherein visiting a psychiatrist should no longer be taboo, and people should be able to openly and freely discuss mental health issues. More here.

The information provided in this website does not substitute for a medical consult.