Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.

Personality Disorder Defined 
 

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What is a Personality Disorder?

 

Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D., MFCC

 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, Revised Edition (American Psychological Association, 1994), a Personality Disorder is an "enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation 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." Personality disorders are pervasive, highly entrenched, persistent and resistant to change. It does not matter what kind of personality disorder an individual possesses, be it borderline, schizoid, narcissistic, obsessive compulsive, avoidant, dependent, inhibited, etc., the disorders are disruptive and corrosive to interpersonal relationships and the pursuit of one's happiness. Projection and repression are common, difficult defense mechanisms of the personality disordered. Consequently, any one who has to live with a person possessing a disordered personality can attest to how difficult it is to get beyond the disordered person's defenses, unreal facades and ascriptions of malevolent intent onto intimate love objects.

 

Personality disorders tend to be chronic with intermittent breakthroughs of the real self. These disorders are real mental disorders and the sufferer experiences above normal states of disturbed thinking and emotions. Mental disturbances are not as severe and intense as in psychosis, however, but they are testify to how much damage a person has suffered in childhood.

 

A personality disorder is a hidden disorder. The person may appear to be quite calm, rational and even functional to the average observer. The personality disorder does not become evident until one becomes more involved in that person's life. As the repressed childhood damage begins to seep into intimate relationships, the transference and counter-transference phenomena becomes disturbingly evident. In my opinion for an intense personality disturbance to be formed, the victim has had to suffer some form of deprivation, neglect and abandonment from both father and mother. It's the combination and intensity of both parentsí disturbances that create the transference/counter-transference reaction in the personality disordered individual, as though the sins of the parents are visited upon their children. In essence, the personality disordered individual is programmed and scripted to eventually activate earlier disturbances within adult relationships.

 

The contamination of the early years becomes a mental disturbance process of the adult years and adult relationships unconsciously activate the contagiousness and contamination of the deep down, disturbed personality organization. Relationships are destroyed by personality disorders. These people can't maintain and sustain "in love" relationships. They eventually become so disillusioned and disappointed in everyday reactions that they are compelled to act out emotional withdrawal and disintegration in their adult bonding processes.

 

Personality Disordered individuals create disturbances and activate early deprivation experiences in their partners which eventually threatens to destroy the relationship. They do not have an stable, on-going sense of a real self but are dominated by their defenses and their unreal self. Ultimately, the hope for the personality disordered individual lies in the awareness that by re-experiencing, fully feeling and integrating emotional pain can one become real enough to live a clear, centered and productive life. For more information, contact Dr. Paul at (818) 882-7404 or phannigphd@socal.rr.com

 

Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D., MFCC  * www.nvo.com/psych_help *  phannigphd@socal.rr.com  *  818-882-7404






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Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D MFT w PsychotherapyHELP

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