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Personality Disorders: Myths and Realities

Personality Disorders: Myths and Realities

November 10, 2022

Myths and realities about personality disorders

Psychology has been talking for decades about the different types of personality and how they influence our way of interpreting the world. We can find two ways to deal with this issue, on the one hand the professionals who describe types of normal personality and his predisposition to different physical diseases, such as the famous type A and type B personality, the first prone to cardiovascular diseases and stress. And the other way is to treat them like personality disorders .

But today we want to talk about this second point: personality disorders. Personality disorders are defined as a permanent and inflexible pattern of behavior that is far from expectations according to the age and culture of the person . That is, someone who does not behave as expected and who interprets the world in a different way. Over the years, some diagnostic categories that have had a lot of impact on our culture have disappeared, such as the Multiple Personality Disorder, which has led to screenplays of well-known films such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but that nowadays does not appear as such in the diagnostic manuals (DSM-V).


Were these disorders myths or realities? Its existence or not in the past, the scientific basis that creates the consensus that a psychopathology It has a set of own characteristics, it is something difficult to value. Currently, this diagnostic category has disappeared and we could see similar features in the Dissociative Personality Disorder . What is really interesting about this topic is to observe the extent to which the sociocultural changes that occur over the centuries correlate with clinical changes, changes in symptoms and mental disorders.

Personality disorders: truths and lies

There are personality disorders that disappear from the manuals and others that arise and become fashionable, as is the case of borderline personality disorder, one of the most diagnosed in recent times and the most difficult to treat. They are impulsive and unstable people who present great difficulties in their interpersonal relationships.


It is curious the fact that most of the most diagnosed pathologies of the 21st century have as a common denominator the impulsiveness . Such is the case of ADHD, the TLP , etc.

Returning to the personality, we could say that there is a continuum that travels from personality disorder to mental illness, in many of the personality disorders there is a mental disorder at the opposite pole:

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder - Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder - Schizophrenia
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder - Paranoid Schizophrenia

It seems that they are less serious manifestations of these pathologies.

Antisocial Disorder in the cinema

Another personality disorder that has liked a lot in the cinema and that has led to multiple films in which one of the characters has this characteristic has been the antisocial disorder (or the psychopath, as it is popularly known). Movies like The silence of the lambs (1991), who show us the psychopath as someone very intelligent and special, who is also a serial killer. There are other films that have dealt with these issues, as you can see in the article "Movies on psychology and mental disorders" But, what is true and false in all this?


The reality is that people who suffer from antisocial disorder often have problems with the courts because of their tendency to commit minor criminal acts, which are far from serial murders. There is a certain contempt and a violation of the rights of others for their own benefit and without any feeling of guilt. But killing others is not usually their goal, it is therefore an erroneous attribution: people with antisocial disorder are not potential killers.

We have also seen in the cinema some characters with obsessive-compulsive disorder, this time quite faithful to the typical symptomatology of this disorder. In Better ... Impossible(1997), Jack Nicholson he plays a writer of romantic novels with a good arsenal of compulsions that he has to deal with on a daily basis. Although the obsessive-compulsive personality disorder differs in some of the disorder obsessive compulsive (TOC), it is still a continuum in terms of severity and many of the symptoms are common: pattern of concern for order, perfectionism and control. This type of personality disorder has been portrayed in thousands of movies after dinner, with people obsessed with work, order and perfectionism, who need to control their surroundings and suffocate those around them.

Recapitulating: towards a relaxed view of personality disorders

But the reality of this disorder goes further, because at its most severe end can block the person in their daily lives, for their marked slowness in performing tasks. To do a perfect thing you must spend a lot of time, so sometimes it is not feasible to finish it in a reasonable time, and this often causes that they do not start an activity because they know they can not do it as they want, thus leaving many things and giving the impression that they are unmotivated or are pigeons. Nothing is further from reality. There are many personality disorders that are reflected in our cinema, but the reality is that they are difficult to treat and affect the day to day of the person who suffers.

Surely over the years, we will see some disorders that now exist and new ones appear, because the personality is not only genetic, it is also the result of a social, cultural context; emerges from our beliefs and our interpersonal relationships ... and consequently the catalog of disorders will hardly happen a fixed image.

What personality disorders will define the century XXI ?


Borderline Personality Disorder: Addiction Treatment Myths (November 2022).


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