Throughout their lifetime, everyone is likely to encounter several people within their family, relationships, friendships, and work environments who have a Personality Disorder (PD).
As a general rule, people with personality disorders can be difficult to get along or maintain a healthy relationship with. They can be argumentative, stubborn, and frustrating if there is a lack of understanding about what a PD really means or how it manifests itself in an individual. A person with a PD has an inaccurate perception of reality which is pervasive in every environment and is not diagnosed until 18 years old. However, there always is a previous history of five years giving indications that a person has a PD before their formal diagnosis that can still help those around them identify the issue.
While there are several other personality disorders that are not listed here such as passive-aggressive and depressive PDs, the main ones are: anti-social, narcissism, borderline, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, dependent, and avoidant.
In order to help identify someone who may have a personality disorder, below are ten signs a person may have a PD.
- Multiple Misunderstandings. A person with a PD often hears intentions that no one has expressed. Meaning that they will often perceive an ulterior meaning to someone’s language. A narcissist will hear how someone idealizes them when they are not ideal, while an avoidant will hear hatred when there is none. Whatever the internal dialogue is within the PD person’s mind (for instance insecurity, superiority, or emotion), is what they may project onto others to be saying about them.
- Major Misperceptions. Because of the misunderstandings, PDs have significant misperceptions about their relationships with others and their place in society. People with histrionic PD are famous for becoming “besties” the moment they meet a person and lack any awareness that the other person does not have the same feeling.
- Spoiler Alert. A spoiler is a person who hijacks other’s fun. They can do this by ruining a surprise, guessing the ending of a movie, pointing out unrealistic risks to inhibit activities, and ending a good time by generating unnecessary drama. This is done to center the attention on just how smart or right they might be – which is a classic obsessive-compulsive and narcissistic behavioral trait.
- No Doesn’t Mean No. Overstepping boundaries is a typical sign of a PD. Instead of recognizing that another person has a right to set limits, they routinely override any boundary that is not to their liking. Anti-socials and borderlines do this for different reasons. Most of the time a borderline is unaware they have overstepped while an anti-social takes pleasure in overstepping.
- Plays the Victim Card. In an effort to evade responsibility, a PD will play the victim card or bring up events from their childhood or trauma to justify their behavior. It is one thing to have a traumatic event that impacts a person triggering a PTSD response, but it is an entirely different matter to use that event to gain control, take advantage of another, manipulate others, or escape responsibility. Paranoids, dependents, and anti-socials do this regularly.
- Relationship Imbalance. Some of the PDs have too intense relationships such as borderlines, histrionics, and dependents, while other PDs lack intimacy like narcissists, avoidant, schizoid, schizotypal, obsessive-compulsive, and anti-social. Either way, there is no balance within the relationship, and they are either too enmeshed or completely lack intimacy.
- No Progress. There is not a lot of growth for a PD. They can change but the change is prolonged and time-consuming. Most PDs don’t ever stop being a PD with the exception of a borderline. This is the only PD that research has shown can and does improve with specific types of therapy.
- Blame Shifting. When a PD enters therapy with a significant other, they are very quick to paint a pristine image of themselves while making the other person look crazy. Obsessive-compulsives will even come in with a list of faults to hand the therapist with all the flaws of their partner exposed. When confronted with their errors, they are quick to blame others.
- Blatant Lies. It is one thing to create a white lie to protect the feelings of another person – something that a PD does not do – and another thing to blatantly lie to protect themselves. This is done to self-protect because a PD cannot admit that the problem resides with them. If they do, it is over-dramatized to the point of ridiculousness in an effort to reel in the other person. Anti-social’s lies are the most harmful because they usually result in a traumatic event for the other person.
- Distortion of Life. Both schizoid and schizotypal have a distorted view of life and their place within it. They tend to see the world through a prism where things are not exactly what they seem. There is a lot of fantasizing about a world that is not based on reality.
While any of these ten signs may indicate a person has a PD, they must be an adult and diagnosed by a therapist to confirm the disorder. If you have any concerns about a friend or family member, seek help and speak to a professional before drawing any hasty conclusions.