Understanding Histrionic Personality Trait

gone_with_the_wind_dresses_20100831151427_320_240

by Christine Hammond

Histrionic is defined as overly dramatic or emotional but as a personality trait histrionic includes overly sexual or provocative.  Interestingly enough a histrionic will see themselves as very sexual even when they are not sexually appealing or even physically attractive.  It is almost as if they have rose colored glasses on when they look in the mirror and then take them off when they look at others.

So what is Histrionic?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, histrionic is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify histrionics as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of histrionics are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Emotional – crying uncontrollably
  • Manipulative
  • Attention seeking

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Dresses provocatively
  • Acts very dramatically
  • Gullible
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Makes rash decisions
  • Threatens or attempts suicide

One of the best examples of a histrionic is Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind”.  Her flair for the overly dramatic, the constant demand for attention, the quick foolish decisions, and emphasis on provocative clothing even during her impoverished years is typical histrionic.  It was all about Scarlett and she was furious at anyone who did not give her attention when she wanted it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • “You look nice today” is a safe way to give needed attention without getting into the specifics of their clothing.  Remember they are dressing provocatively on purpose so don’t go too crazy on the compliments.
  • Allow them to be the center of attention for a specific time period to get it out of their system and then they will be more likely to share the stage with others.
  • Do your best to minimize conflict when they are around or they will shut down.  They are not great fighters despite their forwardness.
  • Don’t play into their drama moments.  Instead set firm boundaries in your dealings with them.
  • Don’t get emotional, they have a sixth sense about emotion and will play on it.  Sometimes they even turn the emotion sexual when that was the last thing on your mind.
  • Be very careful because they make rash decisions which means they might agree now but won’t later.

You might be wondering what the difference is between Borderline Personality Disorder and a histrionic because when you put the two disorders side by side they do have some of the same characterizations.  Borderlines don’t tend to be as sexual as histrionics.  While they do engage in inappropriate sexual acts or make overly provocative comments, histrionics take it to the next level and make everything sexual to the point of nauseating.  If you are dealing with this, please get some help.  This is too tiring to deal with alone.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Advertisements

Understanding Paranoid Personality Trait

Cover of "Conspiracy Theory (Keepcase)"

Cover of Conspiracy Theory (Keepcase)

by Christine Hammond

Have you ever met someone who truly believes that everyone is out to get them?  They are paranoid about family, friends, co-workers, the trash man, the police, or even the cashier at the grocery store.  When confronted they can site numerous reasons not to trust other people and insist that the problem is everyone else and not them.  Or is it?  Paranoids are just that, paranoid.

So what is Paranoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, paranoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify paranoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of paranoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Distrust and suspiciousness
  • Intimacy avoidance
  • Hostility
  • Unusual beliefs and experiences

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Believes others are using them
  • Reluctant to confide in others
  • Unforgiving and holds grudges
  • Takes criticism poorly
  • Reacts with anger, retaliates
  • Cold, distant, controlling, and jealous
  • Believes they are always right

Mel Gibson in his portrayal of Jerry in “Conspiracy Theory” did a wonderful job showing what paranoids look like in real life.  The constant looking over his shoulder, reading more meaning into seemingly meaningless things, the hypervigilant behavior, and intense anger are all characterizations of a paranoid.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Although they are highly logical, don’t try to logically reason their paranoid thoughts away.  It won’t work and the only one who will get more frustrated is you.
  • Paranoid beliefs are rooted in childhood and have nothing to do with present circumstances no matter what they say.  There really is no magic ingredients of affirmation that will stop the paranoia.
  • They record as many things as possible by video or audio including people or family in their own home, so expect it.  To everyone else, this seems a bit strange and weird but to them, this is normal.
  • Choose your words carefully when speaking as they frequently read far more meaning into them then intended.
  • All it takes is one comment they don’t like and they will shut you out of their life forever because you are unsafe.

Living with a paranoid is exhausting because they can fake social interaction but inside they don’t do social interaction really well and will often leave saying all kinds of horrible things about the people they were just nice to.  Their paranoia will be pervasive as in nearly every conversation some form of it will appear.  Most of the time they have learned to say things like, “I was just trying to keep you safe” or “I can see things that you don’t” as a way of softening the paranoia.  But it is still there.  You need help if you are dealing with someone who has this as their perception of reality is usually way off-balance.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Depressive Personality Trait

the hoursBeing depressive is not the same thing as having depression.  The two can look the same to an outside person as the symptoms are similar.  The major difference is that a depressive can actually have depression but a person with depression is not depressive.  Depression is situational such as grieving the loss of a friend or it is chemical such as your body overproducing certain hormones.  Depressive is a personality trait and is not based on situation or chemical factors.

So what is Depressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, depressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify depressives as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of depressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Depressivity
  • Anxiousness
  • Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Feels dejected, gloomy, and worthless
  • Self-critical and derogatory
  • Is negativistic, critical and judgmental toward others
  • Pessimistic
  • Feels guilty or remorseful

In the movie “The Hours”, the three main characters all demonstrated different forms of depressive personality.  While each of them was depressed for a period of time, such as the suicide attempt, the overall appearance was a gloomy or depressive state.  This was unchanging no matter how hard the other people in their lives worked to minimize the depressiveness.  The depressiveness never when away completely and two of the three characters learned to live with it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be depressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t minimize their feelings of inadequacy or depression; rather reassure them that your support is not contingent upon how they feel.
  • Do a small act of encouragement or show gratefulness to them whenever you can without expecting it to change or modify their behavior.
  • If one thing goes wrong in their life, it all comes crashing down so don’t overreact even if they are over or under reacting.
  • They spiral easily to a depressive state so keep things as smooth as possible.
  • They aren’t able to “look on the bright side” so don’t expect it or get angry when they can’t.
  • Listen to their worries and fears without criticism or judgment.  This is not a spiritual condition and cannot be fixed through spiritual methods; this is a personality condition and is as ingrained as the color of their eyes.

It can be frustrating at times to have a depressive person in your life but their mood does not need to infect your mood.  Learn to set and maintain good boundaries in your life so you don’t feel responsible for trying to help them feel better.  You are not responsible.  Rather get some guidance as to how to approach them and have a healthy relationship despite the depressiveness.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Passive Aggressive Personality Trait

Bride Wars

Bride Wars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most likely you have heard the term “passive-aggressive anger” which is a person who gets angry but doesn’t show it right away and instead stabs you in the back later.  While the experience hurts, you are not likely to forget the passive-aggressive approach.  Now take this concept and expand it to not just one emotion of anger but in nearly every aspect of a person’s personality.  This is passive aggressive where blame is shifted from them to you and no responsibility or accountability is taken by them.

 

So what is Passive Aggressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, passive aggressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify passive aggressive as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of passive aggressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

 

  • Hostility
  • Depressivity

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Acts sullen
  • Avoids responsibility by claiming forgetfulness
  • Inefficient on purpose
  • Blames others
  • Complains
  • Feels resentment
  • Has unexpressed anger
  • Procrastinates
  • Resists suggestions

 

The movie “Bride Wars” featured two main characters who displayed some passive aggressive traits in a humorous setting.  But the main character Emma took passive aggressive to a personality level where she had issues in several areas of her life of putting things off, getting back at her friend in an underhanded way, intentionally being inefficient, and being resentful.  

 

So how do you deal with a person who might be passive aggressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • They can be very angry and you will not know it until it is too late and they are stabbing you in the back.  So be on guard.
  • This personality is not immature behavior although the behavior does look immature.  Rather their behavior is a personality issue and they will not outgrow it.
  • Eventually they will comply to wishes, demands, or expectations but it will be late and seem almost rebellious in nature.
  • When they get angry, they have a tendency to sabotage whatever is going on.  This is your clue that something is wrong as they are not likely to communicate anger.
  • By contrast, they hate outward signs of anger and routinely shut down when others are aggressive.

 

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of passive aggressive is that they seem like adult teenagers that you just want to shove into reality.  But they are not, this is not a condition that goes away with time and experience usually does not change their behavior.  If you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive, get some counsel to learn to better manage your expectations and establish healthy boundaries for your protection.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.  

 

Understanding Schizoid Personality Trait

Cover of "The Remains of the Day [Region ...

Cover of The Remains of the Day [Region 2]

The name “schizoid” was coined in the early 1900’s but it really has nothing to do with similar names like schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or schizotypal.  Rather, it is closer in identity to avoidant personality disorder with many of the same characteristics and traits but adds the element of a blunt affect.  Perhaps the best definition of a schizoid is a person who pulls away from others and their own emotions or feelings thereby creating flat emotionless responses.

So what is Schizoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, schizoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify schizoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of schizoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Intimacy avoidance
  • Restricted affectivity – blunted affect
  • Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Prefers being alone
  • Little desire for sexual relationships
  • Unable to experience pleasure
  • Comes off as dull or cold
  • Feels unmotivated

What does this look like in person?  Remember Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the head butler in “Remains of the Day”?  This is an excellent example of a schizoid.  The head butler focused on his job over all social encounters and disappeared into the background seamlessly.  Even when pressed about his feelings, he was unable to communicate them or show any real emotion.  This was not just proper job training for a butler; it was an aspect of his personality.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Because they won’t talk much, don’t expect a lot of feedback.  A little goes a long way.
  • They are not likely to go to lunch or engage in talks over the water cooler so don’t force it.
  • They will seem odd or indifferent in most social or work environments but they are comfortable with that so it won’t do any good to point it out or try to force them to be something they cannot be.
  • Emotional reasoning won’t work because they aren’t in touch with their own feelings let alone the feelings with others.  Rather logical reasoning will work.
  • They are very comfortable being alone so don’t engage or try to force them to talk during awkward silence.  Most likely the only one uncomfortable with the silence is you, not them.
  • One of the greatest mistakes you can make is that their silence means agreement.  It does not!  While this might be true for most of the population, this is not true for schizoids.
  • They generally need time to process decisions so give them deadlines for feedback.  Don’t leave a decision open-ended or you will never get the input you need from them.

If you find that you are in a relationship with a schizoid, get some counseling advice to manage your levels of exhaustion.  Their silence and blunt affect can be very frustrating especially for a person who likes to engage in conversation and is not afraid to show appropriate emotions.  Schizoids are capable of wonderful relationships but you need to understand their natural limitations and not have expectations that contradict with their abilities.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Anis...

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Aniston. Back: LeBlanc, Kudrow, Schwimmer, Perry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The name Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) often gets confused with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but it is definitely not the same.  It is however the same in that there are obsessive and compulsive traits, thoughts, and actions.  For instance, OCDs are obsessed with being clean and therefore do compulsive behaviors such as excessive hand washing.  Generally speaking the OCD is limited to a few areas or environments.  OCPD is not and as a personality disorder it is pervasive in nearly every environment.

 

So what is OCPD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

 

  • Identity:  Sense of self derived from work or productivity
  • Self-direction:  Rigid, unreasonably high, and inflexible internal standards of behavior
  • Empathy:  Difficulty understanding the ideas, feelings, or behaviors of others
  • Intimacy:  Relationships seen as secondary to work and productivity
  • Rigid perfectionism:  Insistence on everything being flawless, perfect, without errors; believing there is only one right way to do things; difficulty changing ideas or viewpoints; preoccupation with details, organization, and order
  • Perseveration:  Continuance of the same behavior despite repeated failures

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Over-devotion to work or hobby
  • Not able to throw things away, even when the objects have no value
  • Lack of flexibility in opinions
  • Lack of generosity, money is hoarded for catastrophes
  • Doesn’t like to delegate to others because they won’t do it right
  • Not very affectionate
  • Preoccupation with details, rules, and lists even for enjoyable activities
  • Perfectionist standards interfering with task completion
  • Overly conscientious
  • Stubborn

 

Do you remember the hit TV show “Friends”?  Courteney Cox who played Monica on the show is a perfect example of OCPD.  Not only did she possess some OCD habits but she also demonstrated OCPD at home, work, and with her friends.  The combination of the two disorders made for many funny scenes as it helps to bring awareness to the rigidity and consistency of OCPDs and how it impacts the people around them.

 

So how do you deal with a person who might have OCPD?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • When they are right, say the words, “You are right”.  They love that.
  • They have a tendency to repeat the same point over and over, don’t change your opinion.
  • They are hyper-logical so use logical not emotional arguments.
  • Always ask for their opinion and don’t assume you already know the answer.
  • Your time with them will go long because they talk so much, anticipate it.
  • Use the phrase, “Let me think about that” when you don’t want to keep talking about the subject.
  • Resist the temptation to join them in an anxious obsessive moment.

 

The good part about having this disorder is that OCPDs will be excellent employees, volunteers, or workers in whatever environment that excites them.  The hard part is getting accustomed to rigid scheduling, over preparation, and lack of compassion for those who don’t perform at their level.  Try learning some new communication skills or brushing up on logic skills before you engage in your next discussion with an OCPD.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder

The Silence of the Lambs (film)

The Silence of the Lambs (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure who came up with the name “Antisocial” as this does not even begin to explain the disorder.  It would be like calling an aggressively trained pit bull a puppy who isn’t nice to people.  The former names of psychopath or sociopath are much more understandable names which create a more immediate understanding.  Since APDs (Antisocial Personality Disorder) tend not to care too much about what other people think, I’m guessing that this name is not the result of some political correctness however, it is the name now.

So what is APD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

  • Identity:  Self-esteem derived from personal gain, power, or pleasure
  • Self-direction:  Personal gratification directed with failure to conform to laws or ethics
  • Empathy:  Lack of concern for feelings, needs or suffering of others
  • Intimacy:  Incapacity for intimate relationships
  • Manipulativeness:  Use of subterfuge to control others
  • Deceitfulness:  Dishonesty and fraudulence
  • Callousness:  Lack of remorse about one’s actions, aggression, or sadism
  • Hostility:  Frequent angry feelings, insults, or vengeful behavior
  • Irresponsibility:  Failure to honor financial agreements or promises
  • Impulsivity:  Acting on the spur of the moment without consideration of outcomes
  • Risk taking:  Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • No regard for morality
  • Lies all the time
  • Uses charm to manipulate
  • Sense of superiority
  • Recurring difficulties with all authority
  • Repeatedly violates the rights of others through intimidation
  • Hostility, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy or remorse about causing harm
  • Dangerous behaviors
  • Abusive relationships
  • Irresponsible work behavior
  • Failure to learn from the negative consequences

If you are wondering what this looks like in person, imagine Anthony Hopkins in his role as Hannibal in “Silence of the Lambs” or Angelina Jolie in her role as Lisa in “Girl, Interrupted”.  Both of them did an excellent job portraying APD.  Several studies have estimated that anywhere between 50-75% of the prison population has APD.

So how do you deal with a person who might have APD?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Because they are gifted liars, don’t believe what they say.  Actions speak louder than words.
  • Don’t waste your time being fake; they can smell a phony a mile away.
  • Be direct, firm and calmly unwavering in your decisions.
  • No emotion, they see this as weakness.
  • Their stories of people they have harmed is an intimidation tactic, show no reaction.
  • They threaten violence when backed into a corner, don’t look away as they can smell fear.
  • Don’t underestimate them; alcohol/drugs can empower and physically strengthen them.
  • Don’t threaten back; it is a waste of time.  If you say, “I’m going to call the police” then do it.

More often than not, counseling is very helpful in learning to deal with a person who has APD.  Relationships with APDs are not easy and often require boundaries with steel reinforcement and a strong support network.  This is not a time to tough it out alone.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.