A personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of maladaptive behaviour, interpersonal difficulties, emotional deregulation, and cognitive distortion. A personality disorder frequently leads to both personal and interpersonal distress. In fact many people who are experiencing a personality disorder have been suicidal at some point in their lives. For this reason it’s important for you to know that personality disorders can be helped by the appropriate psychotherapeutic treatment.
According to statistic provided by Mind, around 4 people in every hundred have a personality disorder. The psychologist Theodore Millon, a prolific researcher of personality, outlined a number of personality disorders that are listed below:
The scope of this page isn’t broad enough to write about each type individually so please refer to the Wikipedia page on personality disorders for more information about the different types.
A psychiatrist officially undertakes the diagnosis of a personality disorder, and the lines between different personality disorders are relatively blurred meaning sufferers may receive a diagnosed of one or more classifications on the list. Understandably a diagnosis of a personality disorder may be frightening for some, or a relief to others. Either way allow me to reassure you that a personality disorder need not be a life-sentence and the appropriate therapy can help you make sense of, and overcome, the symptoms and difficulties relating to your diagnosis.
Personally, and professionally, I’m not fond of the term personality disorder as it gives the impression that there’s something fundamentally ‘wrong’ with you. In reality, having worked with many people who’ve been diagnosed with a personality disorder, there’s nothing disordered about them. More often than not individuals diagnosed with a personality disorder come from difficult or challenging backgrounds and have often experienced significant trauma, and their perception of the world is perfectly coherent with their experience.
"Personality disorders are best thought of as normal or typical forms of behaviour or personality that an individual experiences in a more acute fashion due to his or her life experiences."
When viewed in its proper light a personality disorder could be thought of, in part, as your innate self-protective survival instincts and coping strategies to manage interpersonal and intrapsychic distress. In fact personality disorders are best thought of as normal or typical forms of behaviour or personality that an individual experiences in a more acute fashion due to his or her life experiences.
Naturally there is a genetic component to personality, a predisposition to a certain kind of temperament, however as with all personality, your genetic predisposition is often magnified or made more severe by your early environment or negative life-experiences, including trauma history, schema development, cognitive distortions, and so on. For example, an individual with a genetic predisposition towards introversion or low sociability who experiences an interpersonal trauma may become socially phobic and highly avoidant. Avoidance being an instinctive way to protect oneself from further suffering.
Sufferers of personality disorders may experience a wide range of symptoms and problems, such as:
Traditionally personality disorders were thought to be relatively unchangeable and resistant to treatment. However thanks to advances in neuroscience and psychotherapy personality disorders are now well within the scope of treatment. The best form of treatment for personality disorders is one that is integrative and multimodal. In other words, a therapeutic process that operates on the various dimensions of Self, such as the cognitive, behavioural, affective, and somatic, where necessary.
"Thanks to advances in neuroscience and psychotherapy personality disorders are now well within the scope of treatment."
Hypnotherapy isn’t generally recommended for help with personality disorders, however I work in a client-centred way, which means I tailor a unique treatment plan for every client after our initial consultation. Hypnosis is used, only if appropriate, for a particular client in a particular circumstance. For a more thorough understanding of how I work I invite you to explore my Sequential Psychotherapy website, which has an informative introductory video and a wealth of useful information on symptoms and symptom formation.
You are also warmly invited to join me at The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic or online via Skype for a FREE initial consultation so we can have a chat about your experiences and discuss a way forward with regard to treatment. Why don’t you get in touch and see if I can help you like I helped this lovely gentleman:
Having suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) for most of my life and not receiving great results from medication, I decided to give The Bristol Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy Clinic a try. Seb, who runs the clinic, is a very amiable and approachable man, put me at ease straight away. We decided on a way forward and I soon had the answers that I needed to beat this terrible illness. I couldn’t praise Seb highly enough, his professionalism and dedication were second to none. I have my life back, thank you Seb, from me & my family.
F.B. - Borderline Personality Disorder