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Personality Disorders | Harley St | Central London

Personality Disorders describe a class of personality traits that are regarded as maladapative and long-lasting and often interfere with a persons ability to form or maintain healthy relationships and/or boundaries. 


All of us have a personality, it's what makes 'me, ME'. Our personalities tend to be formed from a very early age and is dependent on our individual life experiences including attachment in the first few weeks, months and years of our lives. The term 'personality disorder' is one that is used to describe clinical diagnosis of certain personality characteristics. I prefer to regard personality disorders as developed ways of being and relating, in response to personal and individual life experiences, early relationships, attachment styles and sometimes, trauma. More helpful and effective ways of communicating and relating to people can be developed and improved relationships can be enjoyed. Therapy can also help with learning new, more helpful ways to manage and experience difficult or overwhelming emotions.


There are different types of personality disorder clusters. The most commonly seen are:


Borderline (Emotionally Unstable) Personality Disorder - Those who have difficulty in forming and maintaining healthy relationships are often regarded as having borderline personality traits. This includes an unstable self-image, self-esteem and sense of identity, mood swings, difficulties in controlling anger and aggression or hostility and unstable relationships. Many people with Borderline PD tendencies find they form close bonds very quickly, perhaps before really getting to know people well and have difficulty maintaining friendships. 


Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Is typically characterised by charming, confident and seemingly charismatic individuals who at the same time are essentially selfish, self-seeking and deeply insecure. Narcissists have a need for admiration and power. They may appear caring and thoughtful, but usually this is all part of charming and manipulating others in order to have their own needs met. Narcissism can relate to early childhood neglect.


Some people may recognise some narcissistic traits in themselves or others - this is not the same as narcissistic personality disorder and developing insight into these kinds of traits are much more easily understood and helped with the right kind of therapy. 


Narcissism is usually regarded as a male characteristic however, there is seen in slightly more subtle ways in women. Some people may also recognise what is sometimes referred to as Maternal Narcissism.


Paranoid Personality Disorder - is characterised by an intense and irrational mistrust or suspicion of others.


Avoidant Personality Disorder - feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and sensitivity leading to social inhibition and isolation. 


Dependent Personality Disorder - pathological need to be cared for by other people and seeming inability to meet own needs. 


Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder - characterised by a need to conform to self-defined rules and rituals. Traits of control and perfectionism are also usually very apparent. 

Ways of being and relating to others are learnt and develop through childhood. With personality disorder traits, these characteristics are often regarded as dysfunctional in some ways, as maladaptive and unhelpful coping strategies. Whilst some adapted ways of coping may have served some function in childhood and during adolescence, these traits can become problematic in adulthood when it comes to relating in the workplace, college or with family and friends.


Specialist psychological therapy is available in order to help with personality disorder traits.

Working with a professional who can help you make sense of earlier life experiences, developed ways of relating and coping as well as practical therapies can offer valuable insight and positive change.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT Therapy) is a useful talking therapy that helps a person to make sense of how their thoughts affect their feelings and behaviour. It can be used to help manage feelings of anxiety, depression and anger.  


Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a talking therapy that was originally developed for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. The approach includes practical and useful ways in which to learn how to regulate emotions and not feel so overwhelmed. Mindfulness is also a useful practice. 


Trauma Therapy may also be useful in addressing issues of personality disorder traits... Situational or relational trauma is often at the root of ongoing interpersonal difficulties including issues of trust or not feeling able to connect to people. EMDR trauma therapy has been shown to help symptoms and traits of Borderline Personality Disorder. You can find out more about EMDR HERE

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