This article will be posted in three different parts.
A personality disorder is defined as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, and has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.
Personality disorders can be understood in terms of personality traits. Personality traits are relatively stable and long lasting patterns of thoughts, actions, and feelings, which are unique to each individual. These traits determine each person to behave in a usual manner. When these traits become inflexible and maladaptive in such a way that they cause a lot of distress and functional impairment, then it becomes a personality disorder.
People with personality disorders consistently display distorted ways of thinking, expressing emotions, controlling behavior, and interacting with others. This becomes highly problematic not only for them, but for others who interact with them. In fact, it has been found in some instances that people with personality disorders create less trouble for themselves and more for others with whom they interact with. It is this feature of people with personality disorders that makes it intriguing to have a closer look at the kind of relationships they maybe having with others.
There are mainly ten different types of personality disorders, which are divided into three categories or clusters. The three clusters of personality disorders are: odd/eccentric, dramatic/emotional/erratic, and anxious/fearful.
The odd/eccentric cluster comprises of three personality disorders, which are: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) mainly characterizes of being overly suspicious and extremely mistrustful. They always have the feeling that others will harm them or take advantage of them, even if they do not have any evidence of it. They feel suspicious in almost all situations and with almost all people. They are argumentative, become aggressive easily, experience intense jealousy, are humourless, and unemotional, which makes them appear to dislike others and be incapable of intimacy. All this makes a drastic effect on their social and emotional adjustment.
People with PPD have significant problems in their social relationships. They have very few friends, which do not last long due to their suspiciousness towards them. They have trouble in forgiving and forgetting. They constantly question the motives of their colleagues, friends, and family, and doubt their loyalty and trustworthiness. They also do not confide with others because they feel that the information that they will share will be used against them. They act distant, cold, and tend to avoid groups. Due to their continuous suspiciousness of others’ motives, they usually spend their life as a loner.
The main features of schizoid personality disorder (SPD) are a severely restricted range of emotions and an indifference to social relationships. Schizoid personalities experience a constant emotional blandness. They do not seem to experience the emotions, such as warmth, pleasure, disappointment, hurt, which are part of ordinary social life. In severe cases they are completely unable to seek pleasure.
In general people with SPD are unskilled in social situations. Due to their social awkwardness, they appear to be superficial or self-absorbed. They are incapable of noticing other people’s social, emotional, and interpersonal cues. They appear to have little or no interest in relationships. They are detached from other people, prefer to be alone, and are mostly involved in solitary activities. They are typically indifferent to potential romances and friendships. They are often distant from their families, they rarely marry, and have no close friends. Apart from a relative, such as a parent or a sibling, they rarely maintain a close relationship.
People with schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) manifest odd speech, behavior, thinking, and perception. They exhibit a highly eccentric behavior, such as they dress up and talk in an odd manner. They also claim to have magical thinking. For instance, they claim to predict the future, read the thoughts of others, and communicate with animals.
Schizotypal personalities experience social and emotional problems. They are socially isolated and tend to shun people. They are unskilled socially and are often unable to pick up social cues of others. Their idiosyncrasy and eccentricity makes others feel awkward and see them as socially stiff. This in turn makes them feel awkward around others. People with STPD seldom have close friends outside their own families, and other people tend to see them as silly or absurd. Unlike schizoid personality disorder, people with STPD get bothered by their lack of interpersonal relationships. They want to feel connected with people, but are unable to make social connections.
This is the end of Part I. The next part will be about the relationships of people with personality disorders that are in the dramatic/emotional/erratic cluster.