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Personality disorders

Fall semester topics

Personality disorders (living with serious mental illness)

“The word ‘personality’ refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that makes each of us the individuals that we are. We don’t always think, feel and behave in exactly the same way – it depends on the situation we are in, the people with us, and many other things. But mostly we do tend to behave in fairly predictable ways or patterns. And so we can be described, as shy, selfish, lively, and so on. We each have a set of these patterns, and this set makes up our personality.

Generally speaking, personality doesn’t change very much, but it does develop as we go through different experiences in life, and as our circumstances change. So, as we mature with time, our thinking, feelings and behaviour all change. We are usually flexible enough to learn from past experiences and to change our behaviour to cope with life more effectively.

However, a person with personality disorder, would likely to find this more difficult. His/her patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving are more difficult to change and he/she will have a more limited range of emotions, attitudes and behaviours with which to cope with everyday life. This can make things difficult for you or for other people.

Personality disorders usually become noticeable in adolescence or early adulthood, but sometimes start in childhood. They can make it difficult for you to start and keep friendships or other relationships, and they may find it hard to work effectively with others. They may find other people very scary, and feel very alienated and alone.

However, with the right help such person can learn to understand other people better, and cope better with social situations and relationships with other people. The diagnosis applies if he/she has personality difficulties which affect all aspects of life, all the time, and make life difficult for him/her and for those around. The diagnosis does not include personality changes caused by a life event such as a sudden traumatic incident, or physical injury.” Sorce info

More info

  • What causes personality disorders?
  • Coping with Mental Illness in the Family
  • Understanding and Treating Depression
  • NAMI’s Networking Site for Young Adults with Mental Illness
  • Additional web resources