Personality Disorders

What are Personality Disorders?

A personality disorder is any of a number of mental disorders which exhibit deeply rooted maladaptive personality or behavioral characteristics.  The condition is often identifiable in the individual’s early teens and may last throughout his or her lifetime.

Those who suffer from personality disorders tend to have difficulty relating to and observing people and situations – including the self.  The behavioral patterns are generally linked to severe instabilities in the social tendencies of the individual.  An array of troubles can result from personality disorders including depression, anxiety and grief.

Types of Personality Disorders

There are four main types of personality disorders:

1. Borderline

Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, is a personality disorder which is described as a long term disturbance in the behavioral makeup of a person, wherein the moods of the person are extremely variable and deep.  It is usually diagnosed in individuals over the age of 18, but may also be identified in some adolescents.

Borderline personality disorder is often linked with instable moods such as splitting, or “black and white” thinking.  Episodes of devaluation and idealization may present themselves, where the individual views events and people as either all bad or all good.  This condition may also be referred to as “Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.”

2. Narcissistic

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, is a personality disorder which is described as an individual’s disproportionate fixation on issues of personal vanity, adequacy, prestige and power.

The disorder may be directly associated with egocentrism (self-centeredness).  Individuals who are narcissistic may tend to demonstrate a prevalent pattern of grandiosity (a sense of unrealistic superiority).  It is said that narcissistic personality disorder may be rooted in a defense against feelings of shame.

3. Dependent

Dependent Personality Disorder, or DPD, is a personality disorder described by a condition wherein the individual has a prevalent dependence on others.  A person with DPD will excessively depend on others to ensure their physical and emotional needs are met.

Individuals with a dependent personality disorder view themselves as helpless and inadequate, and may look to others to offer support and take the leadership role.  This prolonged condition may also be referred to as Asthenic Personality Disorder.

4. Schizoid

Schizoid Personality Disorder, or SPD, is a personality disorder characterized by social isolation and a long term pattern of indifference toward others.  A person with SPD will seem detached and aloof, and may tend to lead a reserved, solitary, secretive, apathetic and emotionally cold lifestyle.

Individuals who suffer from schizoid personality disorder may maintain an intricate and rich inner fantasy world—a realm that is often valued by the person as being preferable to the real world.  The term “schizoid” is often mistakenly associated with the term schizophrenia.

What Causes Personality Disorders?

The cause of personality disorders is thought to be a blend of both environmental and genetic stimuli.  Inherited characteristics have a substantial impact on the personality development of an individual—just how substantial an impact is the subject of much debate (known as “the nature versus nurture debate”).

Environmental factors including life situations, experiences and living conditions are also said to have an effect on the development of personality disorders.  Loving or abusive parenting, for example, may be attributed.  An individual may have a genetic predisposition towards a potential personality disorder, but the actual development of one could be triggered by environmental factors.

What are the Symptoms of Personality Disorders?

There are many symptoms that could serve as an indication of the presence of one or more personality disorders.  Those include: recurrent mood fluctuations, tempestuous relationships, isolation socially, frequent surges of anger, disbelief and distrust of others, trouble building new friendships, a preoccupation with instant gratification, lack of control over impulses, and alcohol or substance abuse.

Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms include dangerous and impulsive behavior, explosive relationships, mood instability, suicidal tendencies, and a fear of isolation.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder symptoms include fantasies about success, attractiveness and power; exaggerations of talents or achievements; expectations of continuous adoration and praise; and a failure to notice or demonstrate concern for the needs or feelings of others.

Dependent Personality Disorder symptoms include disproportionate dependency on others, submissive attitudes, a need to be looked after, tolerance of abuse, and excessive reliance on relationships.

Schizoid Personality Disorder symptoms include absence of concern for social connections, restricted range of conveyed emotions, obliviousness to common social cues, and an apathetic or dismal appearance to others.

FAQ about Personality Disorder Residential Treatment Centers

a.  How long is residential treatment for a personality disorder?

Inpatient and outpatient treatments can last from several months to several years.  The duration of treatment will depend on a number of factors, such as: the type of disorder the patient has, the severity of the personality disorder, whether multiple disorders are simultaneously present, the level of cooperation from the individual being treated, the speed of patient recovery, and other variables.

b.  How do residential treatment centers treat personality disorders?

Treatment options are determined on a case by case basis.  Initially, residential treatment centers will perform an outpatient evaluation of the individual to make a determination on the most suitable and effective set of care and treatment options.

The primary treatments for personality disorders are: psychotherapy, hospitalization and medications.  Prescription medications may be of particular assistance throughout the recovery process, such as antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-psychotic medications.

The cooperative involvement of several key professionals is necessary to institute holistic treatment and recovery potential: family doctor or primary care provider, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, and social workers.  Family members’ support is also vital and their participation in patient treatment can prove quite helpful.

c.  How to select the right residential treatment center for a personality disorder

Choosing the right residential treatment center can be a delicate process, and should be based on the comfort of the individual, the guidance of family or other caretakers, the track record of the treatment center, client testimonials, location, and the programs offered.

d.  What are the costs of a residential treatment center for a personality disorder?

The overall costs associated with personality disorder therapy programs at residential treatment centers will vary based on the length of stay, medication costs, and whether the care is rendered inpatient, outpatient, or via partial hospitalization.

e.  How can a residential treatment center for personality disorders help?

Types of Treatment Options

There are 4 primary treatment options which are often used in combination to help people to manage and recover from personality disorders.

1. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy – Designed to enhance insight into unconscious behaviors and thoughts, this type of treatment encourages a better understanding of motivations and improvements in conflict resolution methods.

2. Psycho-education – Learning facts about the personality disorder from which the individual suffers can nurture a sense of empowerment.  Through psycho-education, patients become familiar with their treatment options and may improve their coping techniques and problem-solving abilities.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – A combination of behavioral and cognitive therapies, this type of treatment helps the patient recognize negative and unhealthy thoughts and conduct and substitute them with positive, healthy mindsets and habits.

4. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – This is a form of behavioral therapy that instructs individuals with personality disorders with healthier techniques for coping with stress, managing emotions, and engaging in interactions with other people.

Treatment Programs

Programs for personality disorders at residential treatment centers will include a variety of techniques, including:

  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Vocational Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Family Counseling
  • Interpersonal Group Therapy
  • Medication Management
  • Family Intervention
  • Expressive Therapy