Personality Disorders: Understanding the Reality and Avoiding the Damage of Mislabelling Behaviour

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Some people use loaded words associated with personality disorders during arguments with their partners. Words like “narcissist,” “psychopath,” and “personality disorder” can be commonly thrown around in everyday usage. However, the reality is that personality disorders are a serious issue that can cause significant distress and lead to self-destructive behaviours. It’s important to understand what personality disorders are and what they are not and avoid misusing them as clinical labels that can devalue the experiences of those suffering from them.

Personality disorders are extreme versions of typical personality traits that exist in all of us to a greater or lesser extent. These traits include paranoia, callousness, and self-interest. These disorders can be difficult to recognise and separate from other mental health conditions, such as trauma and neurodevelopmental disorders. Previous research has suggested that up to 1 in 5 people in the UK might have a personality disorder, but a more extensive and more methodological study has indicated that they are less common (1 in 20) than that.

There are ten types of personality disorders in total, grouped into three categories: A, B, and C. However, as we learn more about personality disorders, how we categorise them will change too. These disorders incur more pronounced and problematic issues for people, and they describe enduring dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaving.

Group A includes three specific disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. Their behaviour might seem odd or eccentric to other people.

Group B includes four: antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. People with any of these can find it hard to control their emotions.

Group C includes the last three: dependent personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. People with these have strong feelings of fear or anxiety and might appear withdrawn to other people.

These are the clinical labels for the terms and appropriately characterise the conditions. Only trained medical professionals, such as Clinical Psychologists, are adequately trained to diagnose them using the right tools. Mislabelling someone’s behaviour can be very damaging.

Calling someone a personality disorder label, such as narcissism, implies something wrong with them. Even though they may behave in a way that is not appealing to us, this doesn’t mean they have a personality disorder. Now and then, for example, we all act with narcissism, and some elements of selfishness may sometimes be protective. A diagnostic assessment can only show if the behaviours result from an underlying personality disorder, and there are clinical psychologists in Birmingham to diagnose personality disorders and offer treatment too.

Having a personality disorder can be very isolating and distressing. Using and abusing these labels in the wrong context may saturate their meaning and devalue the difficult experiences of those who genuinely have them. It can also cause damage to our relationship with our friends and family if we use these terms against them. Let’s really think that a person may have a personality disorder. The key is getting a diagnosis from an appropriately trained professional, such as a Clinical Psychologist in Birmingham, to get the help they need.

Personality disorders are a serious mental health condition that can cause significant distress and lead to self-destructive behaviours. It’s important to understand what personality disorders are and avoid misusing labels that can devalue the experiences of those who suffer from them. Mislabelling someone’s behaviour can be very damaging, and we should avoid using loaded words associated with personality disorders in everyday usage. Only trained medical professionals are properly trained to diagnose these conditions, and we should seek their advice if we suspect someone might have a personality disorder. Fortunately, treatments are available to help and support.