Understanding Schizotypal 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)

 

Pop quiz: what word is similar to “schizotypal”?  If you said “schizophrenia”, then you are right.  Schizotypal is derived from the two words schizophrenia and genotype.  Schizophrenias see, hear and believe things that aren’t really there.  Genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual, think DNA.  So putting the two together a Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) is someone who has may seem schizophrenic but is not a full-blown schizophrenic.  Confused yet?  Good because that is precisely what it feels like to speak to a SPD.

 

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

 

  • Identity:  Confused boundaries between self and others
  • Self-direction:  Incoherent goals, no clear set of standards
  • Empathy:  Difficulty understanding impact of behavior on others
  • Intimacy:  Mistrust and anxiety with close relationships
  • Eccentricity:  Odd, unusual, or bizarre behavior and appearance
  • Cognitive and perceptual dysregulation:  Odd or unusual thought processes, over-elaborate speech
  • Unusual beliefs and experiences:  Unusual experiences of reality
  • Restricted affectivity:  Little reaction to emotional situations, indifference or coldness
  • Withdrawal:  Preference for being alone
  • Suspiciousness:  Expectations of signs of interpersonal harm

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Loner lacking close friends
  • Feels external events have personal meaning
  • Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Dresses in peculiar ways
  • Belief in special powers
  • Phantom pains
  • Excessive social anxiety
  • Rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  • Suspicious or paranoid ideas
  • Doubts the loyalty of others
  • Flat emotions

 

Still not sure what a SPD looks like in person?  Lisa Kudrow who played Pheobe from “Friends” did a wonderful job portraying SPD.  Remember the “Smelly Cat” song or the “Pigeon” song (look them up on YouTube)?  None of her songs ever made sense which added to the humor of the show but for a SPD what they are saying makes perfect sense and everyone else is crazy.

 

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

 

  • Don’t follow them down the rabbit trail, stay focused on the topic.
  • Don’t try to apply logic to random comments; it only frustrates you, not them.
  • Emotional reasoning won’t work either because their emotions don’t make sense with the circumstances.
  • They will agree with you even when they don’t.
  • Put everything in writing for future reference.
  • Expect to re-explain over and over.
  • Be patient, show no emotion.  They shut down when confronted.
  • Questions should be simple almost child-like.

 

SPDs live in their own world and are very happy that way.  While they will invite you in on occasion, the level of intimacy will not be the same as other people in your life.  Be patient with SPDs and allow them to control the speed of the relationship, they will be much more willing to engage that way.

 

 

 

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 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The name “Narcissist” comes from Narcissus who was a beautiful hunter in Greek Mythology but also exceptionally proud.  In order to reveal his arrogance, Nemesis drew him to a pool of water.  Upon seeing his reflection and not realizing that it was his own image, Narcissus became so attracted that he refused to leave and died there.  Thus, the name Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) very correctly portrays a person who fixated on themselves.

 

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

 

  • Identity:  Exaggerated self-appraisal
  • Self-direction:  Personal standards are unreasonably high,  sees oneself as exceptional
  • Empathy:  Impaired ability to identify with the feelings or needs of others, excessively attuned to reaction of others
  • Intimacy:  Relationship largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation
  • Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, belief that one is better than others, condescending toward others
  • Attention Seeking:  Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of attention of others

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Believes they better than others
  • Fantasizes about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerates achievements
  • Expects constant praise and admiration
  • Believes they are special
  • No empathy for others
  • Expects others to go along with ideas and plans
  • Takes advantage of others
  • Expresses disdain for those they feel are inferior
  • Believes that others are jealous of them
  • Trouble with relationships
  • Sets unrealistic goals
  • Easily offended

 

 

 

So many movies have portrayed NPD but perhaps the funniest and most exaggerated example is of Will Ferrell’s character Ron from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”.  Ron’s admiration of his looks and talents despite his obvious flaws is characteristic of NPDs.  But NPD can be seen not just in movies, but also in real life from CEOs of large corporations to political candidates on both sides of the aisle to crime bosses and gang leaders.

 

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

 

  • Use sandwich method:  compliment, confront, compliment.  Don’t do it too frequently.
  • Agree with them whenever you can, don’t look for ways to disagree.
  • Be straight forward and short in explanations, too long gives too much time for attack.
  • Expect immediate decisions and don’t question their judgment.
  • Find ways to praise them without being patronizing.
  • Look them in the eye when talking and give them all of your attention.
  • Even when they are gloating, find something to admire.
  • Don’t talk too much about yourself or others; focus the conversation on them and then you will get what you want.
  • Find ways to help them feel special.

 

Once you realize the narcissism, it becomes much easier to manage the excessive admiration that a NPD craves.  But don’t lose yourself to their narcissism by constantly giving them what they need at the expense of what you need.  This is disastrous and will end badly, not for them but for you.  Get some help and learn when to walk away.

 

 

 

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 Borderline Personality Disorder

Cover of "Girl, Interrupted"

Cover of Girl, Interrupted

 

What does “Borderline” mean?  What are you a borderline to?  It is almost as if the author of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) came up with the most confusing name possible to express just how confusing it could be to deal with a BPD.  Whatever the reason, the name does not describe the disorder as a BPD is not a borderline to anything.  Rather it describes the almost daily “they love me” or “they hate me” responses a BPD can display in a relationship.

 

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

 

  • Identity:  Unstable self-image with excessive self-criticism
  • Self-direction:  Instability in goals or career plans
  • Empathy:  Prone to feel slighted or insulted even when not true
  • Intimacy:  Relationships marked by mistrust, neediness, and preoccupation with real or imagined abandonment
  • Emotional liability:  Unstable emotional experiences and frequent mood changes
  • Anxiousness:  Intense feelings of panic, feeling fearful, fears of falling apart or losing control
  • Separation Insecurity:  Fears of rejection or separation from significant others
  • Depressivity:  Miserable, hopeless, thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior
  • Impulsivity:  Acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes
  • Risk Taking:  Engagement in dangerous, risky and self-damaging activities
  • Hostility:  Anger or irritability in response to minor slights and insults

 

 

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Impulsive and risky behavior such as unsafe sex or gambling sprees
  • Threatens and often does self-harming behavior
  • Wide mood swings
  • Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Inappropriate anger sometimes escalating into physical fights
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Suicide attempts
  • Feels misunderstood, neglected, alone, empty or hopeless
  • Fears being alone
  • Feelings of self-hate

 

 

 

In real life, a BPD looks just like Winona Ryder who played Susanna in “Girl, Interrupted”.  Her parents were unable to help her following a suicide attempt so she was placed in a mental institute.  While this may or may not be the appropriate course of action for a BPD, the trail of destructive relationships and the large black cloud of doom and excessive drama that seems to follow them is very much characteristic of a BPD.  It is not uncommon for a BPD to have a long list of people they no longer talk to for no apparent reason.

 

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

 

  • One minute you are their best friend and the next you are the enemy, don’t trust either.
  • Establish and maintain firm unwavering boundaries; they constantly push the envelope.
  • If you find yourself wanting to rescue them, they are most likely a borderline.
  • They often play the victim to get others involved, don’t.
  • They frequently have a black cloud of destruction overhead; it is not your responsibility.
  • Remember the moon hung over the last person they now dislike, now look where they are.
  • Because they are emotionally driven, use emotions to convince them, don’t use logic.
  • Distraction works when all else fails.

 

True intimacy is hard for a BPD although on first glance they may seem to be very intimate as they often open up right away divulging what to everyone else would be a deep secret.  Don’t be fooled by the seduction of a close relationship as they pull away when you get too close and then blame you for the reason they pulled back.  Get some help for this relationship and

 

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.

 

set very firm boundaries.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Avoidant Personality Disorder

Обкладинка книги "Над прірвою у житі"

Обкладинка книги “Над прірвою у житі” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) pretty much sums up the disorder in one name.  In nearly every environment of family, work, or community involvement, APDs avoid social interaction.  Think of a recluse, hermit, outsider, lone wolf, or loner who likes being that way and in fact prefers to live that way and that is your APD.

 

Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

  • Identity:  Low self-esteem, excessive feelings of shame or inadequacy
  • Self-direction:  Reluctance to pursue goals or take risks
  • Empathy:  Preoccupation with criticism or rejection
  • Intimacy:  Reluctance to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • Withdrawal:  Avoidance of social activity or contact
  • Intimacy avoidance:  Avoidance of close or romantic relationship and sexual relationships
  • Anhedonia:  Lack of enjoyment from life’s experiences or unable to take pleasure in things
  • Anxiousness:  Intense feelings of nervousness or panic often in reaction to social situations

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Hypersensitive to rejection
  • Prefers social Isolation
  • Extreme shyness
  • Avoids physical contact
  • Self-loathing
  • Mistrusts others
  • Distance in intimacy
  • Self-critical about their problems
  • Problems in occupational functioning

Do you remember reading “Catcher in the Rye” written in 1952 by J.D. Salinger?  It was one of those readings that some schools required and other schools banned the book because it was believed to instigate teenage rebellion.  Well, the book sold over 65 million copies but J.D. Salinger disappeared.  Most authors would love such recognition but he hid and died in 2010.  J.D. Salinger is an example of a APD and his story is being told in a new movie due to come out in 2015.

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

  • Be careful, they shut down easily and become self-loathing.
  • Find an area of common interest to establish a bond of reassurance.
  • Don’t minimize their feelings or self-doubt.
  • Don’t try to make it better by saying something, listening is the most effective.
  • They don’t like conflict, so make the environment as non-confrontational as possible.
  • Make sure you hear all of what they are saying as they frequently don’t say all of what they mean.
  • Many times they will think they have said something when they have not.
  • They are awkward in social settings so expect it.
  • They already know they are different so don’t bother telling them.

APDs have a tendency to believe that they are more intimate with a person than what might actually be the case.  If you are married to an APD or have a friend who is one, be very careful as they tend to take offense easily and truly see their relationship as having more meaning than it might actually have.  Get some help from a specialist to improve the quality and your understanding of your relationship.

 

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.

Is Your Spouse’s Personality Normal or Abnormal?

depressed marriageIs it normal or abnormal if your spouse…

  1. Does the exact same routine every morning and is resistant to any variation or change.
  2. Losses their temper over minor traffic infractions and threatens harm.
  3. Craves being the center of attention and is constantly seeking recognition.
  4. Shuts down and refuses to speak for days with no explanation as to why.

Answer:  it could be either.  Frustrated?  Me too, but hang in there.  It might help to define normal personality traits from abnormal personality traits and then apply each of the four incidents to the definitions.  This will clarify the difference between the two and help you to know where the line between normal and abnormal personality traits lies.

Normal Personality Traits are categorized by:

  • Persistent patterns of perceiving, relating and thinking
  • Consistent in most circumstances
  • Consistent viewpoint about self and others
  • Observed in a wide range of contexts

Abnormal Personality Traits are categorized by:

  • Personality traits which become inflexible and maladaptive
  • Omnipresent
  • Resistant to change
  • Early onset in childhood or adolescence
  • Cause significant functional deterioration
  1. 1.        Does the exact same routine every morning and is resistant to any variation or change.  Using the definition for normal personality trait, for some people doing the same routine everyday just makes sense.  They are personality type “Conscientious” from “DISC Personality Types” who likes to discover the best and most efficient way of doing things and once it is discovered, rarely change.  This is not an abnormal personality trait unless it is so rigid that when the routine is not precisely followed it causes significant impairment during the day.  If your spouse for instance becomes paranoid that something bad will happen because their teeth were brushed after taking a shower instead of before, then it is an abnormal personality trait.
  2. 2.       Losses their temper over minor traffic infractions and threatens harm.  Certain personality types like “Dominant” from “DISC” don’t like to be taken advantage of in any circumstances and are not afraid to offend nearly anyone in defense.  In many instances, they are bullies.  Yet, this is personality trait is still normal but can become abnormal when the threatening becomes more real or is followed up by some action.  For instance, if your spouse hunts down the other driver and gets out of the car to threaten violence, this is an abnormal personality trait.
  3. 3.       Craves being the center of attention and is constantly seeking recognition.  Personality types like “Influential” from “DISC” enjoy being on center stage and have an ability to create a stage nearly everywhere they go.  While they may come across as “showy”, this is considered a normal personality trait.  It becomes abnormal when the showiness involves “custom malfunctions” and inappropriate clothing or the need for recognition becomes a constant demand and is a regular complaint during discussions.
  4. 4.        Shuts down and refuses to speak for days with no explanation as to why.  While nearly any personality type is capable of this behavior, personality types like “Steadfast” from “DISC” use this tactic more than the others.  Because this personality type doesn’t like conflict, the best way to avoid it is not to say anything at all.  This is a normal personality trait but can become abnormal when your spouse becomes a recluse of sorts for periods of months not days.

So if you spouse is displaying normal personality traits, try understanding their personality type in comparison to yours.  Most likely, it is not the same which is precisely why it bothers you so much.  However, if your spouse displays abnormal personality traits, it is time to seek professional help as these traits are not likely to change.  There are many tools you can learn to help you cope with a spouse who has an abnormal personality disorder.

 

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.