Understanding Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are deeply ingrained ways of thinking and behaving that are inflexible and generally lead to impaired relationships with others. Mental health professionals formally recognize 10 disorders that fall into 3 clusters (A, B, and C), although there is now known to be much overlap between the disorders, each of which exists on a spectrum.

Recent Posts on Personality Disorders

Risky Behavior and Victimizers: Two Issues, Not One

A teen passes out drunk at a frat party and is raped. A woman whose husband beats her goes back to him repeatedly, despite having the ability to leave. Lately, anyone who even brings up the subject of risky behavior by people like this are accused of "excusing" the victimizer and "blaming" the victim. Nonsense. Though connected, these are two separate issues, not one.

Female Serial Killers Are No Myth

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on November 23, 2015 Wicked Deeds
The news and entertainment media focus on and sensationalize the acts of violence and torture perpetrated by male serial killers. Although the graphic images of male serial killers sell countless books and movie tickets, they also perpetuate the myth that all serial killers are demented men.

Therapists Confirm Trump's Narcissistic Personality Disorder

By Randi Kreger on November 13, 2015 Stop Walking on Eggshells
People with narcissistic personality disorder think that they are deeply important and special. They constantly need admiration and flattery to feel good about themselves. They sometimes also struggle to look at others as anything more than just extensions of themselves, which often times can lead to control issues and abuse. Do we want a president with this disorder?

How I Learned About the Family Dynamics I Write About

In the comments by readers responding to my blogposts about dysfunctional family dynamics, I am often accused of naively believing my patient's "distorted" descriptions of their interactions with their family-of-origin members. In fact, I have observed these processes directly in a variety of ways. I describe those ways herein.

Psychopath for President?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 04, 2015 Talking Apes
When psychopathy is combined with a high degree of intelligence and a strong ability to delay gratification, the result is a ruthless, Machiavellian type who often makes it to the highest echelons of business and government.

The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 The Web of Violence
Distance, Delay and Deny, the three Ds that can help you manage challenging interpersonal relationships.

Does Donald Trump Have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Now that the GOP debates have settled down, let's put Donald Trump on the couch. Is he just a narcissistic, or does he display full-blown narcissistic personality disorder? According to therapists who are speaking out in Vanity Fair, he most certainly does.

Red Flags for Emotional Caretakers, Part Two

Do you find it hard to notice when you are giving up your own needs and feelings and caretaking others? Here are some red flags to help you notice when you are doing too much caretaking of others.

I Am A Narcissist. That's A Good Thing.

By Tom Wootton on October 13, 2015 Bipolar Advantage
Chock full of eminently practical advice on how to cope with the dangers of narcissism, in ourselves and others, Rethinking Narcissism brings much needed compassion and clarity to one of the most vexing problems in mental health without ever resorting to false hopes or naivete. In that way, the book itself is special. I consider it a ‘must read’ for everyone.

White Females Are Rarely Murder Victims or Perpetrators

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on October 12, 2015 Wicked Deeds
The myth that women are at greater risk of homicide victimization than men suggests that white females have the greatest risk of all potential victims. There is also a myth which contends that women do not commit murder. This myth is based on traditional gender norms which claim that females are too passive and sweet to kill someone.

Oregon Murders and Risk Factors for Mass Shootings

There are clear psychological, biological and situational risk factors for mass shootings. Greater public awareness of what they are can help us figure out preventions.

A Profile of Oregon's Pseudocommando Killer

Dr. Park Dietz has identified three types of mass murderers—family annihilators, pseudocommandos, and set-and-run killers. The killer who targeted people at Umpqua Community College was a classic pseudocommando.

Dangerous Daydreams

What do future serial killers think about before they kill someone? In the beginning, not much more than many traumatized children.

Whatever Happened to Assertiveness Training?

Getting mellow and relaxed in response to stress can be a good thing, but it can also lead to staying in a bad situation that might otherwise be fixed, particularly in dysfunctional families. Cognitive behavior therapists used to counsel their patients on how to speak up for themselves, but seem to have forgotten the "assertiveness" techniques they used to champion.

What Makes Someone a Master Manipulator?

Among those afflicted with certain personality disorders, there are many who are master manipulators. Do personality disorders cause people to develop into master manipulators? The connection may not be as you expect.

Your Field Guide to the Colorful Personality

People with colorful personalities, or histrionic traits, can be entertaining yet also very self-centered. Charming and theatrical, they may use social skills to exploit others. The colorful personality may be an addition to the growing list of dark personalities.

Why can't Batman beat the Joker?

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on September 26, 2015 Black Belt Brain
Batman exists in a grim reality and a big part of that reality is the physical toll on the human playing the part of superhero. That toll is inflicted repeatedly by the bad guys he faces and none has been front and center for the repeated toll like the Joker. Why is the Joker so hard to beat?

What Is the Most Overlooked Symptom of Narcissism?

Are you aware of the one habit that can prove most vexing if there's a narcissist you often deal with in your life? Recognition of this habit also can help you be sure not to vote for political candidates whose narcissism makes them poor decision-makers.

The Zodiac and Other Thrill Killers

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 Wicked Deeds
Thrill killers like the Zodiac are perfectionists and often have narcissistic personalities. Such traits may drive them to pursue the goal of a perfect murder. Their motive is to induce pain or terror in victims prior to killing them. Victims are generally strangers but the killer may stalk them for a period of time before the attack to fuel the the excitement of the hunt.

The Personality of Donald Trump

By Ryne A. Sherman Ph.D. on September 17, 2015 The Situation Lab
The fate of any organization is a function of that organization's leadership. The the United States is no exception to this rule. Further, how a person leads is a function of his or her personality. Thus, we must consider the personality of the leading Republican candidate Donald Trump and what a Trump presidency would mean for the fate of our nation.

Mental Illness Does Not Equal Dangerous, Mostly

By Carrie Barron M.D. on September 14, 2015 The Creativity Cure
There are many different kinds of mental illness and most people with these conditions are not dangerous. However a certain mix of psychological ailments combined with other known risk factors can be a set up for violent crime. If we can clear up the misunderstandings we will be in a better position to predict and protect.

Your Field Guide to the Femme Fatale

By Rebecca Coffey on September 09, 2015 The Bejeezus Out of Me
According to research psychologists from the U.K.’s University of Liverpool, narcissistic women are often sexually coercive. But rather than rape, they use emotionally manipulative tactics like threatening blackmail or vowing to harm themselves.

Mean vs. Kind Humor

By Rebecca Coffey on September 08, 2015 The Bejeezus Out of Me
Are “affiliative” and “self-enhancing” forms of humor healthier than “aggressive” and “self-defeating” forms?

What Makes People Do the Same Stupid Things Repeatedly?

If we assume as I do that they are not mad, bad, or stupid, how do we account for people with personality disorders who continue with the same disastrous behavior patterns repeatedly with the exact same disastrous results? Or who go from one extreme to the other, and still end up at the same place? Could it be that the end result is actually their goal? And why?

Can You Change Your Personality?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on September 07, 2015 Media Spotlight
A recent research study shows that people are able to make significant personality changes in just sixteen weeks. For example, people who wanted to become more extraverted tested as being higher in extraversion by the end of the study period. These changes can be measured by personality testing as well as behaviour changes.

On Wound Collectors

By Joe Navarro M.A. on September 06, 2015 Spycatcher
What do many mass murderers have in common? Something many see but fail to recognize in advance.

Resolving Our Anger At Narcissists

Ten Steps To Resolving Anger at Your Ex, the Narcissist

5 Reasons This Isn't Your Grandfather's Psychoanalysis

By Kristi Pikiewicz Ph.D. on September 03, 2015 Meaningful You
The image that many people have of psychoanalysis is from the 1950's or even earlier. Times change. And so has psychoanalysis.

Does Your Bright Side Have a Dark Side?

We know that people high on psychopathy and related traits lurk in the “dark side” of personality, but what about its opposite? Having a “bright side” to your personality may sound positive, but it can create its own shadows in your life. See how you rate on these 13 typical qualities of the colorful (but still dark) personality.

Is the Motivation Behind the Virginia Shootings Contagious?

Paul Mullen, Christopher Cantor and colleagues have published an analysis of possible copy-cat mass slayings, where they argue the influence of one rampage on another may have occurred across continents, and even over many years.