The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that makes each of us the individuals that we are. We don’t always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way – it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us, and many other things. But mostly we do tend to behave in fairly predictable ways or patterns. And so we can be described, as shy, selfish, lively, and so on. We each have a set of these patterns, and this set makes up our personality.
Generally speaking, personality doesn’t change very much, but it does develop as we go through different experiences in life, and as our circumstances change. So, as we mature with time, our thinking, feelings and behaviour all change. We are usually flexible enough to learn from past experiences and to change our behaviour to cope with life more effectively.
However, if you have a personality disorder, you are likely to find this more difficult. Your patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are more difficult to change and you will have a more limited range of emotions, attitudes and behaviours with which to cope with everyday life. This can make things difficult for you or for other people.
If you have a personality disorder, you may find that your beliefs and attitudes are different from most other people’s. They may find your behaviour unusual or unexpected, and may find it difficult to spend time with you. This, of course, can make you feel very hurt and insecure; you may end up avoiding the company of others.
A diagnosis of Personality Disorders can be made only after the age of 18 years, however, the symptoms do start manifesting since early adolescence. Personality Disorders can show itself in different ways. The different Types of Personality Disorders may be categorized as follows:
Emotional and Impulsive
Obsessive - Compulsve
The different forms of psychotherapy that are useful in the treatment of Personality Disorders may be presented as follows:
- Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) - DBT offers group therapy alongside individual treatment and can be very effective, especially with BPD. DBT teaches new skills to help you manage emotions, such as distress, and improve the way you interact with others. It helps change the behaviour that causes you most problems so you can deal better with day-to-day crises.
- Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) - CBT has been especially helpful for people with dependent and avoidant personality disorders. It can help you examine your usual pattern of thoughts and attitudes and allow you to challenge ideas and beliefs that cause you problems. For example, if you are too dependent, therapy could focus on your belief that you are so helpless and incompetent you need someone else to rely on. If you have obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), therapy might help you explore your feeling that you must not, under any circumstances, make any mistakes.
- Cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) - CAT focuses on developing relationships, the problems you have with forming relationships, and the habits you have got into in relation to how you think, feel and behave with others. Your therapist will help you to understand your problems and how they developed.
- Psychodynamic therapy - This focuses on the relationship between client and therapist, and can be useful with borderline personality disorder (BPD), in particular. It can help you manage your relationships with other people and improve the way you feel about yourself.
- Mentalization - This form of treatment focuses on developing your understanding of yourself and how others feel. It aims to help you to regulate your emotions and impulses, and develop fulfilling, meaningful relationships.
- Group therapy - Group therapy can be helpful for anyone who prefers to avoid social situations, or who usually depends too much on another person. The groups may have very practical aims, with the emphasis on practicing social skills and assertiveness training. If you tend to form intense, ‘special’, one-to-one relationships, a group can let you try out different relationships and broaden your range of attachments to other people. Group therapy may include social problem-solving therapy, which aims specifically to boost your social confidence and help you to reduce impulsive behaviour. It does this by teaching you to stop and think and plan your actions.