Personality and Character Disorders: An Introduction
Personality and Character Disorders are as difficult to understand as they are to deal with. And many misconceptions exist about them both. Truly, if you ask someone what a personality or character disorder is you’re likely to get some vastly different answers. That’s sometimes sadly even true when you ask a mental health professional. And the whole issue is being further complicated by the fact that the very ways we’ve defined these things in the past has recently come into question. No wonder there’s such misunderstanding!
To really understand personality and character disorders you first have to understand the difference between personality and character. I go into some depth about this in all four of my books as well as in my professional training workshops. Then, you have to know what constitutes a psychological disorder. Understanding that can help you get your bearings when you’re trying to assess the chances for meaningful change or successful professional intervention.
Personality vs. Character
What is personality? These days, we define at as an individual’s unique and preferred style of relating. It’s how someone habitually sees things and does things. It’s the way they prefer to operate in life. Personality is not merely the collection of their various traits or distinguishing characteristics. And it’s not merely the person’s temperament. Some people are by nature more laid-back or pacific in temperament. Others are more high-strung, and quick to become unnerved. Temperament is an important aspect of personality. But it doesn’t define one’s personality. Most importantly, personality is not just the result of biology. Nor is it merely the product of someone’s formative experiences. A lot of things go into making up someone’s personality: biological predispositions, temperament, environment, trauma, etc. But in the end, all these things contribute to the distinctive manner in which folks tend to both view and interact with the world.
Character is the moral side of personality. Everyone has their unique way of seeing and doing things, and especially, relating to others. However, sometimes a person’s style of relating can run afoul of standards of decency. That’s what character disturbance is all about. And when someone’s habitual and preferred way of seeing and doing things significantly interferes with healthy relations, that disturbance can rise to the level of a disorder.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be talking a lot a bout personality and character disorders. And I’ll be explaining how to spot them, the issues they raise for relationships, and the challenges they pose for intervention.
At this writing, the Spanish language edition of In Sheep’s Clothing is in production and will soon be available for wide distribution.
The new studio for Character Matters podcasting is close to finished.
The 2020 workshop schedule, which begins in July, will be posted within the next few weeks.
Please take the time to peruse the vast library of informational articles on this blog. You might just find the very answers you’ve been looking for.