Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders relate to the way a person THINKS. Their thinking patterns tend to be distorted on some level, according to the type of personality disorder they possess and these ways of thinking are habitual and difficult to change.

Signs that someone has a personality disorder could be erratic behaviour and rigid thinking. Behaviour can be destructive with the individual not taking any responsibility for their actions. Very often,those suffering from personality disorders have had a traumatic childhood and the creation of the disorder could be as a result of coping mechanisms founded as a child to cope with trauma. The brain chemistry is affected by unsettling and disturbing childhood experiences and this may lead to distorted and ingrained thinking that is resistant to change as an adult.

Personality Disorders:

Cluster A personality disorders (odd or eccentric disorders)

  • Paranoid personality disorder: by nature sufferers will experience a distrust of others as well as irrational suspicions.
  • Schizoid personality disorder: defined by a disinterest in engaging in social relationships and spending time with others. Also often unable to find pleasure in enjoyable activities and will spend time contemplating ones own mental and emotional state.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: typical characteristics include odd behaviour or thinking.

Cluster B personality disorders (dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders)

  • Antisocial personality disorder: characterised by an ignorance of the entitlements of others, the absence of empathy, and (generally) a pattern of consistent criminal activity.
  • Borderline personality disorder: extreme black and white thinking and long term unstable emotions  particularly when involving relationships, identity and behaviour. These feeling can lead to both self-harm and impulsive behaviour.Self harm is common.
  • Histrionic personality disorder: attention seeking behaviour that often includes inappropriate seductive conduct and superficial or inflated emotions.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: characterised by the consistent need for praise and admiration and a belief that they are special and entitled. Extreme jealously, arrogance and a lack of empathy are also usually present.

Cluster C personality disorders (anxious or fearful disorders)

  • Avoidant personality disorder: feeling socially inhibited and inadequate is common, as is extreme sensitivity to any form of criticism or evaluation that may be interpreted as negative.
  • Dependent personality disorder: an extreme psychological dependence upon others.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder:this is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and is characterised by conforming to rules and moral codes on a severe and unyielding basis. Excessive orderliness is also usually present.


Fortunately, there are ways to treat Personality Disorders. Medication, such as anti depressants are sometimes used as well as talking therapies such as CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy)  which is one of the most commonly practiced forms of psychotherapy today and DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) which emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment how a person interacts with others in different environments and relationships.

The treatment that’s best depends on the particular personality disorder, its severity and the particular life situation. Often, a team approach is appropriate to make sure all psychiatric, medical and social needs are met. Because personality disorders tend to be chronic and can sometimes last much of one’s adult life and may need long-term treatment.

Mandy X