Understanding Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders Counselling Sydney

Personality disorders can create havoc in your life in many ways. Intimate relationships and friendships may suffer and your career may be jeopardised if the condition remains untreated.

"Personality disorders are mental health problems where your personality and behaviour cause you or others distress."

"A person will be diagnosed as having a personality disorder if they have extreme thoughts and behaviours - so extreme that they have a lot of trouble coping with everyday life. People with personality disorders get very strong feelings that they can't ignore, and which cause them to act in a way that they can't control no matter what is going on around them. They have trouble relating to situations and other people, and often end up experiencing significant problems and limitation in their relationships, social encounters, work and schooling."

Source and further information:

Reach Out

Types of Personality Disorders

There is a wide range of personality disorders. All of them involve a pervasive pattern of behaviour, which means that the characteristic behaviours and thoughts are evident in almost all aspects of a person's life.

There are three clusters of personality disorders: odd or eccentric disorders; dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders; and anxious or fearful disorders. Specific disorders are as follows:

  • Paranoid personality disorder is a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others, such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with reduced capacity for close relationships. It is also characterised by distortions of thinking and perception and eccentric behaviour.
  • Antisocial personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.
  • Histrionic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or actual behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
  • Avoidant personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
  • Dependent personality disorder is a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, which leads to submissive and clinging behaviour and fears of separation.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.
  • Borderline personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, moods, and control over impulses.

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder is particularly important because it can be misdiagnosed as another mental illness, particularly a mood disorder.

People with borderline personality disorder are likely to have:

Source and further information:

Australian Government Department of Health

Causes of Personality Disorders

"Research suggests that genetics, abuse and other factors contribute to the development of obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic or other personality disorders.

In the past, some believed that people with personality disorders were just lazy or even evil. But new research has begun to explore such potential causes as genetics, parenting and peer influences."

Source and further information:

American Psychological Association.

Help available for Personality Disorders

Recognising you may have a personality disorder is the first step. You may start to recognise that you have a problem if you have a series of broken relationships, negative feedback from friends or the loss of employment. Or, you may simply realise that your behaviour at times is out of control, leaving you feeling embarrassed and ashamed.


Help is available through:

  • Your General Medical Practitioner (GP): Your GP may prescribe medication or refer you to a psychiatrist if he/she assesses that medication is the best treatment option.
  • Mental Health Professional: Your mental health practitioner can assess your condition and recommend a course of action. Psychotherapy is one of the most successful long-term treatments for personality disorders. Through psychotherapy you will gain insight into your condition, receive help in managing your behaviours and maintaining healthy relationships.
  • For emergencies: Dial 000 if you feel you or someone close to you is at risk of self harm or suicide.
  • Lifeline 24 hour helpline: 13 11 14

How can counselling help you?

Christine Bennett offers help through counselling and psychotherapy. Christine finds that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis and lifestyle education can make a significant difference to improve mood.

If you would like to make an enquiry or appointment, please call or use the form provided below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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