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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I was a freshman I took a psychology class and we learned about different psychology “disorders”, and one of them seemed to be very similar to how I felt. But, I never understood how they were disorders, and it doesn’t seem like they have treatments for them either.

I still don’t see what makes them disorders... I have a personality... is it a malady? Sure my personality sucks... but is it a symptom of a biological malfunction? What do you think... are personality disorders just general schema that psychologists use to describe those with poor personalities?
 

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A personality becomes a disorder when it severely impacts the quality of life of the person who has it or of the people they come into contact with. If it does not have a significant deleterious effect, it is not considered a disorder. Personality disorders were not invented merely to stigmatize people with unusual quirks, but whether or not your behaviors are adaptive obviously depends on the culture that you find yourself in.

I have a sister who was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder because her behavior was harmful and disruptive (eg. the police often had to become involved, or the fire department, hospitals, social workers, etc.). They didn't just label her APD because she was difficult to be around. People do often use the labels as insults, however (eg. the way some people call everyone they don't like a narcissist).

When a consistent pattern of behaviors leads to things like crime, homelessness, intimate partner violence, repeated suicide attempts, etc., mental health professionals intervene because these activities are demonstrably harmful. The labels are just a way of categorizing the particular constellation of behaviors that tend to cluster together. Pretty much everyone can relate to at least one personality disorder, but unless it's really ruining your life (or someone else's) you're not likely to be diagnosed with one by a competent professional.

There are treatments for personality disorders (like Schema Therapy) but they are very hard to modify.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A personality becomes a disorder when it severely impacts the quality of life of the person who has it or of the people they come into contact with. If it does not have a significant deleterious effect, it is not considered a disorder. Personality disorders were not invented merely to stigmatize people with unusual quirks, but whether or not your behaviors are adaptive obviously depends on the culture that you find yourself in.

I have a sister who was diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder because her behavior was harmful and disruptive (eg. the police often had to become involved, or the fire department, hospitals, social workers, etc.). They didn't just label her APD because she was difficult to be around. People do often use the labels as insults, however (eg. the way some people call everyone they don't like a narcissist).

When a consistent pattern of behaviors leads to things like crime, homelessness, intimate partner violence, repeated suicide attempts, etc., mental health professionals intervene because these activities are demonstrably harmful. The labels are just a way of categorizing the particular constellation of behaviors that tend to cluster together. Pretty much everyone can relate to at least one personality disorder, but unless it's really ruining your life (or someone else's) you're not likely to be diagnosed with one by a competent professional.

There are treatments for personality disorders (like Schema Therapy) but they are very hard to modify.
Seems odd to describe like this... so if someone has legal and family troubles that means that they have a bad personality and it’s causing all this? I’d think it should be more based on the individuals conceptual view of the world. But analyzing that is a lot harder than a criminal record
 

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Seems odd to describe like this... so if someone has legal and family troubles that means that they have a bad personality and it’s causing all this? I’d think it should be more based on the individuals conceptual view of the world. But analyzing that is a lot harder than a criminal record
That's not what I was suggesting. A person may have legal and family troubles for any number of reasons. What I'm saying is that regardless of your "conceptual view of the world" you are not going to be diagnosed with a personality disorder unless it's creating a lot of problems. What makes them "disorders" is the harm/distress that is being caused.

From the DSM-5:

a personality disorder is an enduring and inflexible pattern of long duration leading to significant distress or impairment
You can be self-absorbed without having Narcissistic Personality Disorder if your self-absorption is not "leading to significant distress or impairment." You can be a neat freak without having Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. You can be indifferent to the consequences your actions have for other people without having Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Depending on who you talk to, all of these people might seem to have "poor personalities," but that doesn't mean their behaviors are leading to significant distress. These people are not being "pathologized" for thinking and feeling in ways that some people might not like. It's only when these traits become so pronounced that they lead to harmful or criminal behaviors or significant psychological distress that people find themselves in front of psychologists or psychiatrists and they end up with a diagnosis. Just like "feeling a little anxious" before a job interview or a date is not going to net you a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder because feeling anxiety in those instances is common and normal.
 

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alien monk
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if you have a PD it's the interaction of your personality with society that is disordered. I dont think its necessarily something wrong with the person. just the way things are mean theres gonna be ongoing troubles. society is also really **** in a lot of ways and not very accommodating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's not what I was suggesting. A person may have legal and family troubles for any number of reasons. What I'm saying is that regardless of your "conceptual view of the world" you are not going to be diagnosed with a personality disorder unless it's creating a lot of problems. What makes them "disorders" is the harm/distress that is being caused.

From the DSM-5:



You can be self-absorbed without having Narcissistic Personality Disorder if your self-absorption is not "leading to significant distress or impairment." You can be a neat freak without having Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. You can be indifferent to the consequences your actions have for other people without having Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Depending on who you talk to, all of these people might seem to have "poor personalities," but that doesn't mean their behaviors are leading to significant distress. These people are not being "pathologized" for thinking and feeling in ways that some people might not like. It's only when these traits become so pronounced that they lead to harmful or criminal behaviors or significant psychological distress that people find themselves in front of psychologists or psychiatrists and they end up with a diagnosis. Just like "feeling a little anxious" before a job interview or a date is not going to net you a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder because feeling anxiety in those instances is common and normal.
Well my issue is that the evaluation of whether an attitude or personality trait is causing distress should be phenomenological, not physical/external to the persons mind (I.e their criminal record and relationships). It seems a bit of a reach to say that only people with such external conditions are the ones in great distress... in fact it’s even a reach to say that all such people in those conditions are in distress, since the relevant distress is internal to the subject.
 

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@Sainnot

I'm really not sure what you're objecting to so you might have to spell it out for me.

I never said that people were being diagnosed with PDs merely because they've committed crimes or have several failed marriages. It's just that you're not going to end up with a diagnosis for a PD unless you see a MH professional, and you're not likely to see a MH professional unless there's something going wrong with your life. The person making the diagnosis is coming to the conclusion that the problem is with the personality after eliminating the alternatives. This is just what personality disorders are.

Personality traits represent patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that are relatively stable over time.

Personality disorders exist when these traits become so pronounced, rigid, and maladaptive that they impair work and/or interpersonal functioning. These social maladaptations can cause significant distress in people with personality disorders and in those around them. For people with personality disorders (unlike many others who seek counseling), the distress caused by the consequences of their socially maladaptive behaviors is usually the reason they seek treatment, rather than any discomfort with their own thoughts and feelings. Thus, clinicians must initially help patients see that their personality traits are the root of the problem.
Diagnosis of a personality disorder requires the following:
  • A persistent, inflexible, pervasive pattern of maladaptive traits involving ≥ 2 of the following: cognition (ways or perceiving and interpreting self, others, and events), affectivity, interpersonal functioning, and impulse control
  • Significant distress or impaired functioning resulting from the maladaptive pattern
  • Relative stability and early onset (traced back to at least adolescence or early adulthood) of the pattern
Also, other possible causes of the symptoms (eg, other mental health disorders, substance use , head trauma ) must be excluded.
Lots of people with PDs don't find their own "patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating" distressing. Narcissists and people with Antisocial PD don't generally enter therapy unless they're forced to (by a spouse threatening divorce or the legal system). Other people with PDs do seek therapy because they're in a great deal of distress. Lots of people have PDs that have never been diagnosed.
 

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When I was a freshman I took a psychology class and we learned about different psychology “disorders”, and one of them seemed to be very similar to how I felt. But, I never understood how they were disorders, and it doesn’t seem like they have treatments for them either.

I still don’t see what makes them disorders... I have a personality... is it a malady? Sure my personality sucks... but is it a symptom of a biological malfunction? What do you think... are personality disorders just general schema that psychologists use to describe those with poor personalities?
They represent extremes of thoughts and behaviours that we all have. They're usually bad for the person and/or those around them. Since they're not really defined physically it's difficult to just throw any particular medicine at them. They tend to be at the core of the person's identity, so a 'cure' is usually not possible. A tiger can't change its stripes.

For people willing to change, some progress is possible, though.
 

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Dogra Magra
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Most PDs impact your ability to function and/or cause problems for society. That seems to be the benchmark, since it's not like professionals can see into what you're actually thinking or feeling on the inside.

I've read a lot on Cluster B disorders, and my general understanding (or "bull**** theory" more like) is that PDs are largely caused by adverse environmental factors. Prolonged exposure to a bad environment causes our personalities to adapt to them, which in turn might make us less functional in the outside world/"normal" environment. Trauma seems to arrest development, and different PDs display predominant traits of different "stages of development" in that sense.

Cluster B would run the spectrum of histronic on the one end (~adolescent age) to malignant narcissist and antisocial on the other end (~preschool). The underlying "wounds" are the same, but their responses/adaptations are at different levels of sophistication. Otto Kernberg talks about this. Borderline PD is so-called because it was considered the "borderline" between psychosis and neurosis. Toddler age and below would tend to have trouble distinguishing reality (blending elements of fantasy/imagination). Those would be the Cluster A disorders, which themselves run along a spectrum from more psychotic (shizoaffective/schizophrenia) to less (schizoid). I don't know much about Cluster Cs, but those seem to be more "neurotic" in nature and more about cognitive distortions rather than delusions. But basically all the PDs seem to run along a spectrum by this theory - which I've probably done a poor job of explaining, but oh well.

Tldr, I think there are various milestones you have to hit in order to have a functional adult personality. And if you miss one at different points along the way, they manifest as the respective PDs.

Honestly I think psychotic disorders could receive better treatment if professionals stopped pushing pills so much and looked more into the underlying root causes instead. But that doesn't seem to be a popular view in contemporary psychology. I've read that people like genetic explanations for illnesses because they think it promotes compassion, but in practice it often does the opposite - it makes people see the mentally ill as "born defective" and such.

I've heard BPD improves through stable relationships sustained over years (which are probably hard for the sufferers to sustain in the first place), and NPD can potentially be improved by inducing an "existential crisis" and helping them rebuild their whole self from the ground up. Anecdotally, I see AvPD as a stepping stone or more treatable variation of (covert) NPD/BPD, but that may not be generalisable to all cases.
 
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