Common Personality Disorders Misconceptions Debunked

Personality disorders are when an individual’s way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and reacting are dysfunctional, irritable, extreme, and inflexible. These long-term patterns impact their everyday functioning, wellbeing, and relationships.

Personality disorders last over time but can be managed with treatment, as they are more than feeling a little ‘off’. Various areas of life are affected, including home, close relationships, friendships, work, study, and recreation.

With large stigmas associated with mental illness, it is important to properly understand conditions that impact the everyday life of many people. Recent 2019 statistics showed 1-4% of Australians were affected by a personality disorder at some stage in their lives.

4 Things People Tend To Get Wrong About Personality Disorders

1. Personality traits are the same as personality disorders

This is false. Certain personality traits are harmless and do not impact the everyday functioning and wellbeing of an individual, such as loving the colour purple or reading ten books a month, for example.

Personality disorder characteristics that are often perceived to be ‘traits’ include erratic behaviour, extreme mood swings, need for excessive admiration, and significant distress.

Daily life is impacted by intrusive thoughts that control behaviours and impact personal relationships.

On the other hand, personality disorders are mental disorders that are medically diagnosed by mental health professionals.

2. People with personality disorders cannot have social relationships

While those with personality disorders may have difficulties socialising, this is not to say they do not have any positive social relationships.

Some individuals with borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder are highly extroverted, charismatic, and approachable. It is all dependent on the specific individual and their need for interpersonal relationships.

It can be common for the more introverted individuals with a personality disorder to want to withdraw from social relationships, but it is possible for them to have healthy relationships with friends and family members.

3. All personality disorders are the same

Not all personality disorders are the same. While there may be some overlaps in symptoms and behaviours, the personality disorders are very specific. It is also possible for multiple personality disorders to coexist within an individual’s experience.

There are a range of personality disorders, categorised firstly into A, B, or C clusters; then into specific subtypes.

Commonly known personality disorders include obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and antisocial personality disorder (APD).

4. People with a personality disorder have the disorder for life

It is a common misconception that a personality disorder is a lifelong condition as personality disorders can be effectively managed and treated. This means a person can function positively in their day to day life without their personality disorder being a hindrance to their abilities or quality of life.

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