Personality Disorder Part 3
Personality Disorders, part 3
Hello, people! In last week’s blog, we talked about the cause of personality disorders, sort of the nature versus nurture debate, and how both genetics and environment play a role in developing these disorders. We also discussed some of the requirements for diagnosis: how the maladaptive behaviors or personality traits must be relatively stable over time and consistent across situations; that they must cause significant impairment in self and interpersonal functioning; and that they cannot be a result of the direct effects of a substance or general medical condition. Each of the ten disorders has its own set of diagnostic criteria based on the various signs and symptoms typically exhibited. And that’s what we’ll be getting into today- the signs and symptoms of personality disorders.
As I mentioned before, the DSM-5 allocates each of the ten personality disorders to one of three groups or clusters, A, B, or C, based on similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people with one personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder, and it is usually within the same cluster. I should note that it’s not necessary to exhibit all the signs and symptoms listed for a disorder to be diagnosed. So let’s get started on the first cluster.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
These are characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
PPD is defined by mistrust and suspicion so intense that it permeates thought patterns and behavior, interfering with daily functioning. A person with PPD feels very wary of others, believing that they want to harm them. They are always on guard for signs that someone is trying to threaten, mistreat, or deceive them. No matter how unfounded their beliefs, they may repeatedly question the faithfulness, honesty, or trustworthiness of the people around them, whether they are friends, family, spouse, and/ or lovers. They may be defensive or sarcastic, which may elicit a hostile response from others. This response, in turn, then seems to confirm their original suspicions, reinforcing their beliefs. When they perceive they’re being persecuted, rejected, or slighted, they’re likely to respond with hostility, angry outbursts, and/ or controlling behavior; and they often deflect any blame onto others. Their fearful and distrustful perceptions make forming and maintaining close relationships very difficult. In addition, they’re often able to find and exaggerate the negative aspects of any situation or conversation, which also strains relationships. These qualities affect their ability to function at home, work, and school. Because of these symptoms, the condition often results in social withdrawal, tenseness, irritability, and lack of emotion.
Common PPD symptoms include:
-Suspecting, without justification, that others are trying to exploit, harm, or deceive them.
-Doubting or obsessing on the lack of loyalty or trustworthiness of family, friends, and acquaintances.
-Refusing to confide in people for fear that any information they divulge will be used against them.
-Becoming detached or socially isolated
-Interpreting hidden, malicious, demeaning, or threatening subtext or meanings in innocent gestures, events, or conversations.
-Having trouble working with others, being argumentative and defensive.
-Being overly sensitive to perceived insults, criticism, or slights.
-Quickly feeling anger, snapping to judgment, and holding grudges.
-Responding to imagined attacks on their character with anger, hostility, or controlling behavior.
-Repeatedly suspecting, without basis, their romantic partner or spouse of infidelity.
-Having trouble relaxing due to an inability to let their guard down.
PPD affects approximately 1 to 5 percent of people worldwide, though I’ve seen estimates of up to 10 percent. It often first appears in early adulthood, and is more common in men than women. Research suggests it may be most prevalent in those with a family history of schizophrenia. Despite being one of the most common personality disorders, PPD can be difficult to detect until symptoms progress from mild to more severe. This is because most people behave in mistrustful, suspicious, or hostile ways at some point in their lives without warranting a diagnosis of PPD. Spotting the signs can be further complicated as it often occurs with another mental health problem, such as an anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), substance abuse, or depression. When people with PPD have other diagnoses, it can compound their PPD symptoms. For example, depression and anxiety affect mood, and shifts in mood can make someone with PPD more likely to feel paranoid and isolated.
Professional treatment can help someone with PPD manage symptoms and improve their daily functioning. But due to the very nature of the disorder, most people with PPD don’t seek help, as they don’t see their suspicious behavior as unusual or unwarranted. Rather, they see it as rational. They are defending themselves against the bad intentions and deceptive, untrustworthy activities of those around them. As far as they’re concerned, their fears are justified, and any attempts to change how they think only confirms their suspicions that people are “out to get them” in some way. In addition, their intense suspicion and mistrust of others often includes mental health professionals. They question their motives in trying to help, and it can take a fair amount of time to build enough trust so they feel comfortable confiding in them and following their advice.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
The term “schizoid” indicates a natural tendency to direct attention toward one’s inner life and away from the external world. Please note that while their names sound alike, and they might have some similar symptoms, schizoid personality disorder is not the same thing as schizophrenia. People with schizoid PD tend to be distant, detached, aloof, and more prone to introspection. They often choose to be alone, and have little to no desire for social or sexual relationships. In addition to being indifferent to other people, they are also indifferent to social norms and conventions. They seem to not care about external praise or criticism, and commonly demonstrate a lack of emotional response. They are generally “loners” who prefer solitary activities. Many people with schizoid personality disorder are able to function fairly well, although they tend to choose jobs that allow them to work alone, such as night security officers, library, or lab workers.
A competing theory about people with schizoid PD is that they are in fact highly sensitive with a rich inner fantasy life. That they experience a deep longing for intimacy, but find initiating and maintaining close relationships too difficult or distressing, and as a result, choose to retreat into their inner world, which they create with vivid detail.
Common Schizoid PD symptoms include:
-Lack of interest in social or personal relationships, preferring to be alone
-Limited range of emotional expression
-Inability to take pleasure in most activities
-Inability to pick up normal social cues
-Difficulty relating to others
-Appearance of being cold or indifferent to others
-Little or no interest in intimacy or in having sex with another person
-May commonly daydream and/or create vivid fantasies of complex inner lives.
-Often reclusive, organize life to avoid contact with other people
Available statistics suggest that between 3 to 4 percent of the general population has schizoid PD, though it’s very difficult to accurately assess the prevalence, because people with schizoid PD rarely present for medical attention. This is because they generally function so well, and their preferences have few or no negative legal or societal consequences. Schizoid PD usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, affects men more often than women, and is more common in people who have close relatives with schizophrenia.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
STPD is characterized by oddities of appearance, behavior, and speech, unusual perceptual experiences, and anomalies of thinking similar to those seen in schizophrenia. People with STPD have a higher than average probability of developing schizophrenia, and the condition used to be called “latent schizophrenia.” Their anomalies of thinking can include odd beliefs, suspiciousness, obsessive ruminations, and magical thinking, which is being overly superstitious or thinking of themselves as psychically powerful. An example may be believing that they have a “sixth sense” or thinking that speaking of the devil can make him appear. This may lead them to develop what are called ideas of reference- the false belief or intuition that occurrences, events, or details in the world relate or refer directly to themselves. People with STPD generally don’t understand how relationships form, or the impact of their behavior on others. They may react oddly in conversations, not respond, or talk to themselves. They have difficulty with responding appropriately to social cues, often misinterpret people’s motivations and behaviors, and develop significant distrust of others. This can cause excessive social anxiety, and can lead them to fear social interaction, thinking that other people are harmful. While people with STPD and people with schizoid PD both avoid social interaction, people with STPD do so because they fear others, whereas people with schizoid PD do so simply because they have no desire to interact with others, or find interacting with them too difficult.
Schizotypal personality disorder typically includes five or more of these signs and symptoms:
-Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
-Limited or inappropriate emotional responses, “flat emotions”
-Persistent and excessive social anxiety, tendency to be stiff and awkward when relating to others
-Very uncomfortable with intimacy
-Commonly misinterpret events, ie feeling that something has a direct personal offensive meaning, when it is actually harmless or inoffensive
-Distorted perceptions or odd perceptual experiences, ie mistaking noises for voices, hearing a voice whisper their name, or sensing an absent person’s presence
-Peculiar, eccentric, or unusual thinking, beliefs, or mannerisms
-Suspicious or paranoid thoughts and constant doubts about the loyalty of others
-Belief in special powers, such as mental telepathy or superstitions
-Dressing in peculiar ways, such as wearing oddly matched clothes or appearing unkempt
-Peculiar style of speech: highly variable, this may include unusual patterns of speaking, rambling oddly during conversations, vague speech, or speaking in excessive detail, in metaphors, or in an overly elaborate manner.
The prevalence of STPD ranges from approximately 1 to 4 percent of the population, and is more common in men than in women. STPD occurs more often in relatives of patients with schizophrenia or another Cluster A personality disorder. In fact, people that have an immediate family member with STPD can be as much as 50 percent more likely to develop it, as compared to people without that family history. People with STPD typically disagree with the suggestion their thoughts and behavior are disordered, and seek medical attention for depression or anxiety as opposed to the disorder. While it is typically diagnosed in early adulthood, some signs and symptoms, such as increased interest in solitary activities, or a high level of social anxiety, may be seen in the teen years. These children may also underperform in school, or appear socially out of step with peers, and this may result in teasing or bullying. STPD is likely to endure across the entire lifespan, though treatment, such as medications and therapy, can improve symptoms. Without treatment, individuals with STPD are at high risk for having major difficulty with work and relationships.
That’s the end of Cluster A personality disorders. Next week, we’ll cover Cluster B.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it to be interesting and educational. If you did, let me know. If you didn’t, let me know that too!
Please feel free to share the love! Share blogs and YouTube videos with family and friends.
Be sure to check out my YouTube channel with all of my videos, and I’d appreciate it if you would like, subscribe, and share those vids too!
And if you like what you see and want more of it, or if you want a specific topic, leave it in the comments- I love reading them!
As always, my book Tales from the Couch has more educational topics and patient stories, and is available in the office and on Amazon.
Thank you and be well people!
Bipolar Disorder: How Do You Treat Bipolar Disorder?
The treatment depends on what state the individual is in and how severe. Manic...
Depression: What Can I Do For Depression?
The first step is identifying the illness. Depression is more that just feeling...
Bipolar Disorder: Treatment without weight gain
Dr. Agresti talks about medications for treating Bipolar Disorder that do not...
Depression: The use of Medication for Depression
http://22.214.171.124 ~ (561) 842-9550 Dr. Agresti, Psychiatrist in West...