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Definitions & Explanations Of Some Disorders.

by | Oct 12, 2003 | Disorders & Eating Disorders

WARNING: Just because you may have symptoms of some of these disorders, it does NOT mean that you have them. Any suspicions you have should be taken to a doctor. DO NOT diagnose yourself.

Dissociative Personality Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder)

Dissociation is a mental process, which produces a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. During the period of time when a person is dissociating, certain information is not associated with other information as it normally would be. For example, during a traumatic experience, a person may dissociate the memory of the place and circumstances of the trauma from his ongoing memory, resulting in a temporary mental escape from the fear and pain of the trauma and, in some cases, a memory gap surrounding the experience. Because this process can produce changes in memory, people who frequently dissociate often find their senses of personal history and identity are affected.

Most clinicians believe that dissociation exists on a continuum of severity. This continuum reflects a wide range of experiences and/or symptoms. At one end are mild dissociative experiences common to most people, such as daydreaming, highway hypnosis, or “getting lost” in a book or movie, all of which involve “losing touch” with conscious awareness of one’s immediate surroundings. At the other extreme is complex, chronic dissociation, such as in cases of dissociative disorders, which may result in serious impairment or inability to function. Some people with dissociative disorders can hold highly responsible jobs, contributing to society in a variety of professions (the arts, and public service) appearing to function normally to coworkers, neighbours, and others with whom they interact with daily.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

People with schizoid personality disorder avoid relationships and do not show much emotion. They genuinely prefer to be alone and do not secretly wish for popularity. They tend to seek jobs that require little social contact. Their social skills are often weak and they do not show a need for attention or acceptance. They are perceived as humorless and distant and often are termed “loners.”

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Many believe that schizotypal personality disorder represents mild schizophrenia. The disorder is characterized by odd forms of thinking and perceiving, and individuals with this disorder often seek isolation from others. They sometimes believe to have extra sensory ability or that unrelated events relate to them in some important way. They generally engage in eccentric behavior and have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. Their speech is often over elaborate and difficult to follow.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people around you have sinister motives. People with this disorder tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities and usually avoid close relationships with others. They search for hidden meanings in everything and read hostile intentions into the actions of others. They are quick to challenge the loyalties of friends and loved ones and often appear cold and distant to others. They usually shift blame to others and tend to carry long grudges.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

A common misconception is that antisocial personality disorder refers to people who have poor social skills. The opposite is often the case. Instead, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of conscience. People with this disorder are prone to criminal behavior, believing that their victims are weak and deserving of being taken advantage of. They tend to lie and steal. Often, they are careless with money and take action without thinking about consequences. They are often aggressive and are much more concerned with their own needs than the needs of others.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by mood instability and poor self-image. People with this disorder are prone to constant mood swings and bouts of anger. Often, they will take their anger out on themselves, causing themselves injury. Suicidal threats and actions are not uncommon. They think in very black and white terms and often form intense, conflict-ridden relationships. They are quick to anger when their expectations are not met.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

People with histrionic personality disorder are constant attention seekers. They need to be the center of attention all the time, often interrupting others in order to dominate the conversation. They use grandiose language to describe everyday events and seek constant praise. They may dress provocatively or exaggerate illnesses in order to gain attention. They also tend to exaggerate friendships and relationships, believing that everyone loves them. They are often manipulative.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recognize them as being superior. They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. They tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by extreme social anxiety. People with this disorder often feel inadequate, avoid social situations, and seek out jobs with little contact with others. They are fearful of being rejected and worry about embarrassing themselves in front of others. They exaggerate the potential difficulties of new situations to rationalize avoiding them. Often, they will create fantasy worlds to substitute for the real one. Unlike schizoid personality disorder, avoidant people yearn for social relations yet feel they are unable to obtain them. They are frequently depressed and have low self-confidence.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder is characterized by a need to be taken care of. People with this disorder tend to cling to people and fear losing them. They may become suicidal when a break-up is imminent. They tend to let others make important decisions for them and often jump from relationship to relationship. They often remain in abusive relationships. They are overly sensitive to disapproval. They often feel helpless and depressed.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder is similar to obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder. People with this disorder are overly focused on orderliness and perfection. Their need to do everything “right” often interferes with their productivity. They tend to get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture. They set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others, and tend to be very critical of others when they do not live up to these high standards. They avoid working in teams, believing others to be too careless or incompetent. They avoid making decisions because they fear making mistakes and are rarely generous with their time or money. They often have difficulty expressing emotion.

Bipolar Personality Disorder

The primary symptom of bipolar is mania (or hypomania). Most individuals with depression do not have mania or hypomania. Cycling is not necessary for the diagnosis of bipolar, but it is common. Cycling is not exclusive to bipolar disorder. Most individuals with the BPD have mood swings, but they do not get mania or hypomania; their mood swings mostly vary within the realm of feeling bad. Two types of BPD are:

  1. Only one manic episode and no past major depressive episodes
  2. Presence or history of one or more major depressive episodes

Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder that manifests itself to the thousands of children and young adults who live with this disorder in the form of body and/or facial tics, and sometimes verbal tics. This neurological disorder is hereditary, and symptoms don’t usually appear until a child is 6 to 9 years old. Initial onset of tics can occur as late as age 21. The type and severity of tics varies with each child. It has been stated that in roughly 70% of Tourette’s cases, the tics vanish when the victim reaches the age of 20 to 24; usually as quickly as they appeared during grade school. For those that do not see the symptoms vanish in the early 20’s, the tics persists throughout their lifetime.

The physical disorder of the brain which causes these involuntary movements (usually called motor tics) is not fully understood but research is being conducted every day. Motor tics can occur in any part of the body. They can include shoulder shrugging, eye blinking, head jerking, hand movements, lip-licking, facial grimacing and more. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no recorded cases of tics occurring in anyone over the age of 21 for the first time, and although its possible for the onset of tics to occur in the teenage years, the most typical onset period is around the age of seven.

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