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Chapter 19 Disorders of Personality

Chapter 19

Disorders of Personality

Chapter Outline

The Building Blocks of Personality Disorders

  • Symptoms of personality disorders can be viewed as maladaptive variations within the domains of traits, emotions, cognitions, motives, and self-concept

  • Personality disorders as maladaptive variations or combinations of normal personality traits

  • Several personality disorders involve maladaptive variations on common motives, especially power and intimacy

  • Cognitive processes can become distorted in personal disorders

  • Several personal disorders include extreme variations in experienced emotion

  • Most personality disorders include distortion of self-concept

  • Social relationships, especially interpersonal and sexual behavior, frequently disturbed or involve maladaptive patterns in personality disorders

  • Biology forms a building block of several personality disorders

  • Disorders of personality can provide insight into the normal workings of personality

The Concept of Disorder

  • Psychological disorder

  • Pattern of behavior or experience that is distressing and painful to the person

  • Leads to disability or impairment in important life domains

  • Associated with the increased risk for further suffering, loss of function, death, or confinement

  • Abnormal psychology: Study of mental disorders, including thought disorders, emotional disorders, and personality disorders

What Is Abnormal?

  • Statistical definition: Whatever is rare, not frequent, and not statistically normal

  • Social definition: Whatever society does not tolerate

  • Statistical and social definitions are tied to changing social or cultural norms

  • Psychologists thus look within persons, inquiring about subject feelings and thoughts

  • Psychopathology: Study of mental disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

  • Widely accepted system for diagnosing and describing mental disorders

  • Because society standards change over time, and because new research accumulates, the DSM undergoes revision from time to time

What is a Personality Disorder?

  • Enduring pattern of experience and behavior that differs greatly from expectations of a person’s culture

  • Disorder is usually manifested in more than one of following areas: Thoughts, feelings, how a person gets along with others, and the ability to control own behavior

  • Pattern of behavior is rigid and displayed across a variety of situations, leading to distress in key areas of life such as work and relationships

  • Pattern of behavior typically has a long history in a person’s life, often back to adolescence or childhood

  • Pattern must not be attributable to drug abuse, medication, or other medical condition

  • Culture, age, and gender: The effect of context

  • Must take into account person’s culture, age, gender before defining behavior as revealing personality disorder

Specific Personality Disorders
The Erratic Cluster: Ways of Being Unpredictable, Violent, or Emotional

  • Antisocial personality disorder

  • Little concern for others

  • Impulse

  • Easily irritated and assaultive

  • Reckless and irresponsible

  • Glib or superficial charm

  • Callous social attitudes

  • Lack of guilt feelings or remorse

  • Indifferent to suffering of others

  • Borderline personality disorder

  • Marked by instability: relationships, behavior, emotions, even images of themselves

  • Shifting views of themselves

  • Strong emotions

  • huge vacillations in both mood and feelings about the self and others

  • Histrionic personality disorder

  • Excessive attention seeking and emotionality

  • Inappropriately seductive or provocative

  • Physical appearance is often very important

  • Express their opinions frequently and dramatically, however their opinions are shallow

  • Display strong emotions in public

  • Difficult to get along with, due to their excessive need for attention

  • They crave excitement and novelty

  • Narcissistic personality disorder

  • Need to be admired

  • Strong sense of self importance

  • Lack of insight into other peoples’ feelings or needs

  • Sense of entitlement

  • Feelings of superiority

  • Self-esteem appears strong, but is fragile

  • Envious of others

The Eccentric Cluster: Ways of Being Different

  • Schizoid personality disorder

  • Detached from normal social relationships

  • Obtains little pleasure out of life

  • Appears inept or socially clumsy

  • Passive in the face of unpleasant events

  • Schizotypal personality disorder

  • Anxious in social relations and avoids people

  • Appears “different” and does not conform

  • Suspicious of others

  • Odd or eccentric beliefs, such as in ESP or magic

  • Thoughts and speech sometimes disorganized

  • Paranoid personality disorder

  • Distrustful of others

  • Misinterprets social events as threatening

  • Harbors resentment toward others

  • Prone to pathological jealousy

  • Argumentative and hostile

The Anxious Cluster: Ways of Being Nervous, Fearful, or Distressed

  • Avoidant personality disorder

  • Feelings of inadequacy

  • Sensitive to criticism

  • Restricts activities to avoid embarrassments

  • Low self-esteem

  • Dependent personality disorder

  • Excessive need to be taken care of

  • Submissive

  • Seeks reassurance from others

  • Rarely takes initiative, rarely disagrees with others

  • Does not work well independently

  • May tolerate abuse from others to obtain support

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

  • Preoccupied with order

  • Strives for perfection

  • Devoted to work, seeks little leisure time or friendship

  • Frequently miserly or stingy

  • Rigid and inflexible and stubborn

Prevalence of Personality Disorders

  • Prevalence refers to total number of cases present in given population during a particular period of time

  • Obsessive Compulsive personality disorder most common, with just over 4% prevalence rate

  • Next most common are Schizotypal, Histrionic, and Dependent personality disorders, about 2% prevalence rate each

  • Narcissistic personality disorder least common, with 0.2% prevalence rate

  • Total prevalence rate for having at least one personality disorder is 13%

Gender Differences in Personality Disorders

  • The overall prevalence rate for personality disorders is fairly equal in men and women

  • Exceptions: antisocial personality disorder occurs in men with a prevalence rate of about 4.5 percent and in women at only about a 0.8 percent prevalence rate

Dimensional Model of Personality Disorders

  • Distinctions between normal personality traits and disorders are in terms of extremity, rigidity, maladaptiveness

  • Parallel with chemistry: A little of this trait, some of that trait, and amplifying to extremely high (or low) levels, resulting in specific disorder

  • Dominant model currently is categorical model (DSM-IV and DSM-5)

Causes of Personality Disorders

  • Abnormal psychology and psychopathology are highly descriptive disciplines

  • Some theoretical work on causes of personality disorders

  • Most work emphasizes either “biological” causes or “social” causes of personality disorders


  • Hallmark of psychological definition of abnormal is anything that prevents a person from having satisfying relationships or from carrying on productive work

  • Sigmund Freud taught that the sign of a mature adult personality is the ability to love and to work

  • All of the personality disorders refer to symptoms that cause problems with relationships, work, or both

  • Personality disorders refer to enduring patterns of experience and behavior that differ greatly from the norms and expectations of a person’s culture

  • Disorder shows up in how a person thinks, feels, gets along with others, and the ability to control own actions

  • Pattern is displayed across situations, leading to the distress in self or others in key areas of life such as love and work

  • Disorder typically has a long history in a person’s life


Abnormal Psychology Schizoid Personality Disorder

Abnormal Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Psychopathology Paranoid Personality Disorder

Personality Disorder

Categorical View Neurotic Paradox

Dimensional View Avoidant Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder Dependent Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Eye-blink Startle Method Prevalence

Histrionic Personality Disorder Differential Diagnosis

Narcissistic Personality Disorder
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