Do you feel you or someone you know constantly has a difficult time with relationships and maintaining a job? It could be that you or that person has a personality disorder. To help us understand personality disorder I have interviewed Dr. Margaret Jordan.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a clinical psychologist in private practice in Houston, Texas, where I work with individual adults and couples in psychotherapy. I also supervise psychiatry residents at Baylor College of Medicine, I teach and consult with mental health professionals, and I am the President of the Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Society.”
What is personality disorder?
“”Personality disorder” is the term that is used for a persistent pattern of behavior that causes problems in someone’s life, and that begins at least by adolescence or early adulthood. Ten specific types of personality disorder have been officially identified in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), and they vary quite a bit from one another. Sometimes a person who has a personality disorder may not think there is anything wrong, but the people around him or her will be bothered by that person’s behavior. People with personality disorders can also have problems like depression or anxiety, but those mental health issues are considered separate and different from the personality disorders.”
What are the signs and symptoms of personality disorder?
“Each type of personality disorder has its own characteristics. For example, someone with narcissistic personality disorder is self-absorbed and has difficulty having empathy for others. He or she may feel special and feel entitled to certain privileges in life. This individual may be very critical of others and likely has a deep feeling of insecurity that is hidden beneath the attitude of arrogance. In contrast, someone with dependent personality disorder is afraid to make decisions on his or her own, is reluctant to take initiatives, and is often uncomfortable being alone. The personality disorders are fairly distinct from one another, but they have in common a persistent, problematic behavior pattern.”
What type of impact does personality disorder have on a person’s life?
“Personality disorders can cause a great deal of difficulty in getting along with other people or in functioning normally in daily life, but often people with these problems have had them for so long and are so used to them that they may not admit to themselves that anything is wrong. They may have found ways to adapt, such as finding a spouse who is willing to tolerate their behavior, or they may blame their difficulties on other people or avoid certain kinds of situations that are likely to be challenging for them.”
What type of help is available for someone who has a personality disorder?
“Research has shown that long-term treatment (measured in years, not months) is the most effective way to bring about change in people with personality disorders. Because these patterns of behavior have existed for years or decades, it takes consistent and thorough psychotherapy with a therapist who is trained to address the underlying causes of the personality disorder, not just symptoms, to achieve significant change.”
What advice would you like to leave for someone who has a personality disorder?
“It may be very hard to acknowledge that you need help, but if you can work with an experienced, trained therapist, your life and relationships can be much better than they are now. If you are in a significant relationship with someone who has a personality disorder, try to persuade him or her to seek treatment.”
Thank you Dr. Margaret Jordan for the interview. If you would like more information about Dr. Margaret Jordan check out her website on http://www.drmargaretjordan.com/