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Personality disorders are in the spotlight, here is what you need to, know

personality disorder
A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment. (Photo: Envato Elements)
The mention of personality has been on the rise with the Depp vs Heard case making headlines, but what are personalities, and what are personality disorders? Here we will dive into these details. اضافة اعلان

A personality is a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that is unique to all individuals. The variations in personalities allow people to be unique enough to maintain individuality but still fall within a range that is considered normal.

Extreme deviations in personality can cause individuals to have difficulty in forming relationships with others, both in intimate and social settings. Although more often than not these variations could simply be quirks, in more severe cases they may be considered personality disorders.

What is a personality disorder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), defines a personality disorder as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.”

In other words, it is a personality that is extreme in nature, rigid, and starts in one's early teen years or early adulthood. As of the current definition, there are 10 diagnosable personality disorders which are subdivided into three groups known as clusters.

Cluster A personality disorders tend to be generally characterized as having behavior that is odd, suspicious, or detached which tends to have the most negative impact on relationships. Subtype disorders within this cluster include paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.



Cluster B personality disorders are the least common in terms of prevalence and yet people are more likely to have heard of some subtypes in this group. This includes antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorder. Those within this cluster are described as dramatic, emotional, or erratic.

Cluster C includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders. Those diagnosed in this cluster are often more anxious or fearful.

Determining the prevalence of personality disorders is difficult. This largely has to do with the fact that personalities vary from culture to culture and can make it difficult to diagnose.

By best estimates, according to the DSM-5, the global prevalence of any personality disorder is 9.1 percent. However, a breakdown in each cluster shows a prevalence of 5.7 percent in Cluster A, 1.5 percent in Cluster B, and 6 percent in Cluster C.

The DSM-5 attributes the discrepancy to co-occurring personality disorders.

As of yet, there has been no study conducted in Jordan on the prevalence of personality disorders.

However, a 2011 study conducted on Jordanian military recruits assessed the prevalence of mental disorders amongst the group. In this study, 4.6 percent of recruits were found to have a mental disorder and personality disorders were roughly half of the diagnoses (2.4 percent), making them the most common.

What causes personality disorders?

The exact cause of personality disorders is unknown, but the general consensus is that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Under current understandings, it is difficult to assess the role gender, socioeconomic class, and race plays in developing personality disorders. Although gender may not play a role in developing this condition, there are some disparities between men and women. For example, men outnumber women 6:1 in antisocial personality disorders, whereas women outnumber men 3:1 in borderline personality disorders.
If left undiagnosed or untreated, they will persist long term which can cause significant problems for those with the disorder. The extreme fluctuations in personality will likely cause conflict with others, ultimately impacting relationships, social situations, and life goals.
Genetically, most personality disorders have been found to have heritability levels of roughly 50 percent. But, environmental factors can act as a trigger in the development of personality disorders. For example, childhood trauma is significantly associated with the development of personality disorders. This can include verbal abuse and one study even found that children who experienced verbal abuse were three times more likely to develop specific subtypes of personality disorder.

Impact of personality disorders on a person’s life

Personality disorders begin to appear in adolescents or early adults and continue for many years.

If left undiagnosed or untreated, they will persist long term which can cause significant problems for those with the disorder. The extreme fluctuations in personality will likely cause conflict with others, ultimately impacting relationships, social situations, and life goals.

To make matters worse, those who have personality disorders are often unable to understand or recognize that they have an issue in the first place. The exact manifestation of personality disorders varies depending on the subtype but there are general symptoms that tend to apply to all that are diagnosed.



These symptoms can be divided into two broad categories: self-identity and interpersonal functioning.

Self-identity symptoms include unstable self-image issues and inconsistencies in values, goals, and appearance. Interpersonal functioning symptoms tend to have the greatest impact, especially on those around the individual. This can include difficulties in empathizing, difficulty in understanding boundaries, and inconsistent, detached, overemotional, abusive, or irresponsible styles of relating.

With the Depp vs Heard case somewhat trending, violence and personality disorders is something many are wondering about. Numerous studies have found that those with a personality disorder have a predisposition to aggression and violence on themselves and others.

However, a 2016 study conducted in the UK assessed the relationship between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and violence and found that a BPD diagnosis alone was not suggestive of a tendency for violence. However, the study noted that having BPD increases the risk of other conditions such as anxiety and substance abuse which do increase the risk of violence.

Similarly, a systemic review published in 2022 attempted to assess personality disorders and interpersonal violence (IPV) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study found that there was an overall increase in levels of violence both self-inflicted and on others. However, it acknowledged that some studies reported a decrease in IPV, although they attribute these differences due to decreased rates of seeking help and reporting abuse.

If you know someone with a personality disorder, whether it be a loved one or a friend, and you notice aggressive or violent behavior, it is important to understand how to deal with the situation.

For certain subtypes of personality disorder, the predisposition to aggression or violence is higher. If you suffer from a personality disorder, it is important to seek professional help and for you to be active in your care to help manage symptoms.

For those with loved ones with personality disorders, violence can be a scary thing to think about, however, knowing how to handle the situation, although difficult, is nonetheless important. If a diagnosed person has shown no previous signs of violence or aggression, it is possible that they may not be violent in the future.

It is important to be aware of behaviors or factors that can increase the risk of violence. This can include substance abuse or any stressful life event. It is also important to note that even without physical violence, close friends, partners, or family members can feel threatened or aggression can take place in the relationship.

In these cases, the causes or actions that led to these feelings should be taken seriously as they may escalate. The first step is to remove yourself from the situation and find a safe place. Once you are safe, it is important to seek help from a professional in order to assess the next steps.

A professional can help you determine what the next move with your loved one is post the aggression. If you decide to continue your relationship with the individual, it is likely that therapy will need to be involved in order to help both yourself and the individual.


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