Personality disorders are defined as “deeply ingrained and enduring behaviour patterns, manifesting as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations” by the international classification of diseases.
“They represent extreme or significant deviations from the way in which the average individual in a given culture perceives, thinks, feels and, particularly, relates to others,” the definition continues.
There are nine categories of personality disorders.
By 2011 they are expected to be re-categorised as :
- Asocial: those who are withdrawn and isolated.
- Antisocial: people who cause disruption to those around them.
- Asthenic: those who are severely anxious.
- Anankastic: people suffering obsessive compulsive type symptoms.
“Everyone has some degree of personality problems,” says Peter Tyrer, professor of community psychiatry at Imperial College, London. “There’s no line in between which says those people have personality disorder and those people don’t.”
Diagnosing personality disorders is difficult and Tyrer believes it is more accurate to call them “vulnerabilities” than disorders.
Tyrer believes the new classifications will allow for more accurate diagnosis, although most people do not want treatment as they regard the symptoms part of their personality.
Personality disorders have been considered a lifelong condition but new evidence suggests people do not remain continually in a disordered state.
Tyrer says disordered symptoms can develop in interaction with a person’s social environment. He uses a technique called nest therapy to adapt a person’s social environment rather than their personality.