Personality is defined as a person’s particular way of thinking, feeling, and behaving which makes this person different from others. Having said that, and considering how immensely different people could be from each other, saying that a person has a personality disorder on the basis that it deviates from what is socially acceptable is somewhat biased.
Unless, of course, the deviation is due to a bad combination, such as personality disorders and substance abuse, which includes a problematic source of the issue. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) revealed that at least 9% of all adults in the United States suffer from some type of personality disorder.
The myriad nature of a human being’s personality makes it quite difficult to isolate specific causes for personality disorders, although mental health experts are looking at the same factors as contributing to the possible development of personality disorders.
Studies have shown a strong connection between most disorders and the genetic history of a person, as this could determine the person’s predisposition to developing certain disorders. In the case of personality disorders, scientists have identified a malfunctioning gene that could prove to be a factor in the development of the obsessive-compulsive type of personality disorder. Researchers are also exploring possible genetic links that could determine a person’s predisposition to aggression, anxiety, and fear, all of which are traits that can play a role in personality disorders.
Multiple studies have found a possible link between subtle brain differences in people with certain personality disorders. One study on paranoid personality disorder suggests that an alteration in the function of the amygdala, the portion of the brain associated with processing fearful and threatening stimuli, could be the primary reason why people become massively paranoid in this condition. The altered amygdala no longer regulates the fear response as it normally would, creating the condition where the person becomes largely fearful of most things.
Trauma has a way of significantly altering the usual way the brain deals with memory, perception, and reaction to stimuli. This is particularly true with people who have experienced significant trauma during the early part of their lives. One example of this is found in people with borderline and antisocial personality disorders.
These people have issues with intimacy and trust, both of which may be related to abuse or trauma, or both, that they experienced during childhood. As the trauma was left unprocessed and unresolved, the person could have developed either an extreme aversion to intimacy, a great distrust of people they have relationships with, or even an urge to hurt and abuse the one they have a relationship with.
Similar to trauma experienced early in life, a child who experienced chronic verbal abuse could develop several personality issues relevant to how they relate with others, particularly in anger, resentment, or disappointment. Research into this phenomenon revealed that people who experienced verbal abuse as a child was three times as likely to develop borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, or paranoid personality disorders when they grow up.
Also similar to trauma, which tends to drive many to drink alcohol or engage in other types of substance abuse. Many victims of verbal abuse early on in life are known to end up with personality disorders and addiction issues.
Cultural factors are also seen as playing a role in the development of personality disorders. Some cultures tend to lean heavily on socially unbalanced practices, such as patriarchy, matriarchy, and privilege hinged on specific determiners such as standing in life, and other similar things. The problem here is that with the modernization of the world, many cultural practices have been exposed as nothing more than being manipulative and exploitative, mostly favoring subgroup leaders or those who hold positions of authority in their social structure.
The traditional dictates of the culture, however, could be leveraged in such a way that these practices are still unchanged through the years, despite being highly questionable. As such, it is no wonder that certain people tend to be labeled as having a personality disorder when exposed to different cultures or societies where the norms they grew up with are considered as being morally and ethically wrong.
The types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters which are categorized based on similar characteristics and symptoms. People with at least one personality disorder may also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder. Eagle Creek offers treatments for personality disorders and substance abuse which can be administered through residential treatment and outpatient rehab. The first step is going through medical detox.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
This cluster of personality disorders is characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. This cluster typically includes paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
- The unjustified belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you
- Unjustified suspicion of the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
- Hesitancy to confide in others due to unreasonable fear that others will use the information against you
- Perception of innocent remarks or non-threatening situations as personal insults or attacks
- The angry or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
- Tendency to hold grudges
- Unjustified, recurrent suspicion that spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful
Schizoid Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Lack of interest in social or personal relationships
- Preference to being alone
- Limited range of emotional expression
- Inability to take pleasure in most activities
- Inability to pick up normal social cues
- The appearance of being cold or indifferent to others
- Little or no interest in having sex with another person
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs, speech, or behavior
- Odd perceptual experiences, such as hearing voices
- Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
- Social anxiety and a lack of or discomfort with close relationships
- Indifferent, inappropriate, or suspicious responses to others
- “Magical thinking” — believing you can influence people and events with your thoughts
- The belief that certain casual incidents or events have hidden messages meant only for you
Cluster B Personality Disorders
This cluster is characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior. It may also include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Disregard for others’ needs or feelings
- Persistent lying, stealing, using aliases, deceiving others
- Recurring problems with the law
- Repeated violation of the rights of others
- Aggressive, often violent behavior
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
- Impulsive behavior
- Consistently irresponsible
- Lack of remorse for behavior
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling, or binge eating
- Unstable or fragile self-image
- Unstable and intense relationships
- Up and down moods, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress
- Suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury
- Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Frequent, intense displays of anger
- Stress-related paranoia that comes and goes
Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Constantly seeking attention
- Excessively emotional, dramatic, or sexually provocative to gain attention
- Speaks dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up
- Easily influenced by others
- Shallow, rapidly changing emotions
- Excessive concern with physical appearance
- Thinks relationships with others are closer than they are
Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms
- The belief that you’re special and more important than others
- Fantasies about power, success, and attractiveness
- Failure to recognize others’ needs and feelings
- Exaggeration of achievements or talents
- The expectation of constant praise and admiration
- Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others
- Envy of others or belief that others envy you
Cluster C Personality Disorders
This cluster is characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. This cluster may include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Too sensitive to criticism or rejection
- Feeling inadequate, inferior, or unattractive
- Avoidance of work activities that require interpersonal contact
- Socially inhibited, timid, and isolated, avoiding new activities or meeting strangers
- Extreme shyness in social situations and personal relationships
- Fear of disapproval, embarrassment, or ridicule
Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Excessive dependence on others and feeling the need to be taken care of
- Submissive or clingy behavior toward others
- Fear of having to provide self-care or fend for yourself if left alone
- Lack of self-confidence, requiring excessive advice and reassurance from others to make even small decisions
- Difficulty starting or doing projects on your own due to a lack of self-confidence
- Problem disagreeing with others, fearing disapproval
- Tolerance of poor or abusive treatment, even when other options are available
- Urgent need to start a new relationship when a close one has ended
Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder Symptoms
- Preoccupation with details, orderliness, and rules
- Extreme perfectionism, resulting in dysfunction and distress when perfection is not achieved, such as feeling unable to finish a project because you don’t meet your strict standards
- Desire to be in control of people, tasks, and situations, and inability to delegate tasks
- Neglect of friends and enjoyable activities because of excessive commitment to work or a project
- Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
- Rigid and stubborn
- Inflexible about morality, ethics, or values
- Tight, miserly control over budgeting and spending money
It should be noted that Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder.
There is Hope for People Needing Personality Disorders and Substance Abuse Treatment
Many believe that personality is immensely difficult to change. In the case of a personality disorder, the difficulty lies in the fact that most people are not fully aware that they have the disorder.
This is why we here at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery, our mental health and addiction treatment center in orange county, make a point to help people with the proper information and knowledge so that they are aware of what they are up against, and what steps could be taken for treatment. There is hope for people with personality disorders and substance abuse. Contact us today.
Kendall Maloof is the clinical director at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has held multiple leadership roles before settling here at Eagle Creek. Kendall received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Her career in mental and behavioral health began in 2014 when she took up internships in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She interned at multiple reputable companies, such as The Living Success Center and 449 Recovery in California.
In 2019, Kendall became the clinical director of Sunsets Recovery for Woman, a dual diagnosis program in southern California. Kendall is a natural leader. She has an incredible ability to problem solve and stay calm in any situation. Kendall never fails to show up when she is needed, and her calm demeanor makes her team and clients feel at ease. Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery is proud to have Kendall as our clinical director.