Natural treatment of Personality Disorders

Each individual's personality is defined by certain traits and characteristics. But when these behaviour patterns become inflexible and long-lasting, interfering with relationships and work, they are known as personality disorders.


The severity varies, and some of the disorders increase the risk for substance addiction, depression and behaviour that is self- destructive, reckless or violent.

The causes of personality disorders are not well understood. A genetic predisposition is suspected; for example, schizotypal, schizoid and paranoid personality disorders are more common in families with a history of schizophrenia. Early childhood events, such as emotional neglect and physical abuse, are believed to cause personality disorders such as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

Women are more likely than men to have avoidant, borderline, dependent, and paranoid personality disorders; men are more prone to develop antisocial and obsessive- compulsive personality disorders.

It is not known if personality disorders can be prevented. However, some of the complications, such as substance abuse, may be avoided with proper treatment. 

The diagnosis of a personality disorder is based on a person's history of thought and behaviour patterns. Some symptoms, especially those of antisocial personality disorder, may appear in teenagers, and diagnosis is not made until adulthood. It is possible to have more than one personality disorder.

Many patients do not realize they suffer from a personality disorder and blame other people or circumstances for their problems. Many personality disorders have been identified, most of which fall into three categories, or clusters. Following are the most common.

• CLUSTER A These are characterized by odd, eccentric behaviour. People with paranoid personality disorder suffer from extreme distrust and suspicion of others. Those with schizoid personality disorder are introverted and re- main emotionally and socially distant, even from family members.

The schizotypal personality is also withdrawn, like the schizoid personality, but thinks and communicates in ways similar to those with schizophrenia, although usually without hallucinations.

• CLUSTER B This group exhibits dramatic, emotional and erratic behaviour. One of the most common personality disorders is the borderline personality disorder, perhaps because they seek out help. They have trouble controlling emotions or impulses, resulting in reckless behaviour such as suicidal gestures and substance abuse, and may be involved in dramatic, stormy relationships. They fear being alone, yet push people away. People with antisocial personality disorder (formerly called psychopathic or sociopathic personality) act impulsively, may be belligerent and irresponsible, with no respect for others and no remorse for their behaviour. They are at high risk for substance abuse, especially alcoholism and criminal behaviour. The narcissistic personality disorder has an exaggerated sense of self- importance, feels oversensitive to failure, and lacks empathy for other people. Histrionic personality dis- order is characterized by attention- seeking, concern with appearance and excessive need for approval.

• CLUSTER C Anxious, fearful behaviour characterizes this group. The most common personality disorder in the United States is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, not to be confused with obsessive-compulsiveness. Although conscientious and devoted to work, those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder have a drive for perfectionism that makes it difficult to make decisions or finish tasks. They tend to be inflexible and often withdraw emotionally. People with avoidant personality disorder are extremely shy and overly sensitive to rejection; they avoid relationships yet deeply want them, and suffer from feelings of inadequacy. The dependent personality is dependent on others to make decisions and fulfill emotional and physical needs, and will suffer an abusive relationship to avoid being alone. 

Although the precise cause of personality disorders isn't known, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering personality disorders, including:

A family history of personality disorders or other mental illness

·         Low socioeconomic status

·         Verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood

·         Neglect during childhood

·         An unstable or chaotic family life during childhood

·         Being diagnosed with childhood conduct disorder

·         Loss of parents through death or traumatic divorce during childhood

Personality disorders often begin in childhood and last through adulthood. There's reluctance to diagnose personality disorders in a child, though, because the patterns of behavior and thinking could simply reflect adolescent experimentation or temporary developmental phases.

When the characteristics of these personality disorders interfere with functioning and relation- ships, treatment is needed. Often, psychotherapy combined with medication is more powerful than either treatment alone. Although there is no cure, some personality disorders improve with age.

• PSYCHOTHERAPY Therapy may be done with individuals, family or groups, and generally takes at least a year. Types of therapy include psychodynamic, which involves exploring the ways personal history con- tributes to the condition; cognitive behavioral therapy, which looks at how to change patterns of thinking and behavior to more effective methods of dealing with situations and relationships; and dialectical behavior therapy, a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on coping skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly useful for those with obsessive- compulsive personality disorder. It may help people with dependent personality disorder learn to make independent choices and people with narcissistic personality disorder to behave in a more positive and compassionate manner. Dialectical behavior therapy may help those with borderline personality disorder. However, talk therapy may fail to work for those with schizoid personality disorder because they have trouble relating to others. It may be difficult to do talk therapy with people who have paranoid personality disorder because of they are suspicious of doctors.

• GROUP THERAPY People with borderline personality disorder may benefit greatly from one- on-one counseling.

PSYCHOANALYSIS This type of talk therapy, developed by Sigmund Freud, involves several sessions a week delving into the patient's past relationships to understand their effects on current relationships so that new patterns of behavior can be developed. This type of therapy may be useful for narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

• MEDICATION Although no medication can cure personality disorders, it can relieve some of the symptoms. SSRI antidepressants may reduce the obsessions and compulsions in obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, reduce sensitivity to rejection in those with avoidant personality disorder, and help treat depression that occurs from failed romantic relationships in histrionic personality disorder. Mood stabilizers can level out the mood swings, and antidepressants can relieve depression in those with borderline personality disorder. Antipsychotic medication may help some patients with schizotypal personality disorder.


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