IntroductionWhat is a personality disorder?A personality disorder is defined by the ICD-10 (as cited in Long, 2005) as being a severe disturbance in the characterological constitution and behavioural tendencies of the individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruptions. In other words, a personality disorder arises in people who have experienced severe psychological trauma recently or in the past, and it is now starting to manifest itself in a physical form (for example, someone who took part in the war and is now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression).
A person suffering from a personality disorder may not realise or make the connection that their negative behaviour is affecting others, they may notice the change in peoples' attitudes but cannot comprehend that it is their behaviour that is causing the negative change in people's attitudes towards them. This is what makes a diagnosis and treatment so difficult for a psychologist, as the patient doesn't understand that they have a problem and can refuse treatment.
These maladaptive and self-destructive patterns in behaviour usually appear in the late teens or early adulthood, and are built up over a long period of time. This means that there is hardly any chance that a person is diagnosed with a personality disorder before the age of 16. Most people are diagnosed or are referred by their therapist, as they are usually distressed about their life and have problems with relationships at work or at home or in social situations. But there are still a large number of cases (more than two-thirds) that are unreported or diagnosed.
What is a diagnosis?Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained professionals who deal with diagnosing and treating mental illnesses; they have numerous tests that they can conduct in order...