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Personality disorders



A personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by abnormalities in the personality. It is common with low and unstable self-esteem, as well as difficulties in interpersonal relationships. These problems affect the quality of life and how one functions in daily life. The condition manifests itself already in adolescence and continues into adulthood.

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Generally about personality disorders

Personality disorders are mental disorders in which low and unstable self-esteem, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships negatively affect quality of life and how one functions in daily life.

Here is a list of examples of personality problems that are often found in people with personality disorders.


Difficulties associated with self:


  1. low and / or unstable self-esteem
  2. varying feeling of feeling coherent and whole (lack of sense of identity)
  3. difficulty mastering and controlling emotions and impulses
  4. repeated self-harm
  5. repeated suicide attempts
  6. difficulty finding meaning in life 
  7. difficulty in following up short-term and long-term goals
  8. difficulty knowing their own norms for how to behave and follow society's norms for acceptable behavior
  9. difficulty assessing oneself as a person


Difficulties in relation to others:


  1. misunderstandings in relationships with others
  2. a tendency to social avoidance and social isolation
  3. difficulty understanding others' experiences, perspectives and motives
  4. difficulty having multiple perspectives on social events
  5. difficulty understanding how one's own behavior affects others
  6. difficulty establishing and maintaining close relationships
  7. difficulties with reciprocity and equality in relationships
  8. conflicting relationships with others
  9. conflicts in close relationships such as boyfriend, friend and family relationships
  • Source: [OUS, 2016][1]



What helps with personality disorders?

The treatment of personality disorders aims to create better social functioning and adaptation. In addition, attempts are made to reduce acute symptoms, such as psychosis. Furthermore, support is provided to ride out crises in relation to those closest to them.

In the treatment context, personality disorders are divided into two groups: mild and severe personality disorders. The mild personality disorders include avoidant, obsessive-compulsive and dependent personality disorders, while the rest are considered among the most severe.

The main treatment for the mild personality disorders is long-term psychotherapy. This is done by a specialist. Some will need additional treatment for depression and anxiety.

In the case of severe personality disorders, hospitalization and medical treatment in crises may be necessary, in addition to long-term psychotherapy. Supportive talks with a general practitioner may also be relevant.


Learn more about personality disorders

There are several types of personality disorders. Select from the list to read more:

Antisocial personality disorder / psychopathy Dependent personality disorder Borderline personality disorder Hysterical / dramatizing personality disorder Narcissistic personality disorder Paranoid personality disorder Schizoid personality disorder Schizotypal personality disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Avoidant personality disorder


Different forms of help


  1. Psychotherapy




    Psychotherapy / treatment is a process characterized by a time-limited contact between a therapist and a patient / client, in which specific problems are thematized and worked with. Include different therapeutic traditions (for example cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, and more)

    A useful source that evaluate the effectiveness of specific therapies for different mental health problems is the website to the Cochrane Institute [Cochrane Institute][2] .


  2. Online therapy




    Online therapy is similar to traditional therapy or treatment, but is provided by digital means (either phone, video conference, or similar). Digital interventions can include a broader range of options, such as therapist-guided self-help programs online.

    The current research literature provide strong support for the adoption of online psychological interventions as a legitimate therapeutic activity [Barak et al., 2008][3] .


  3. Support / self-help groups




    Support / self-help groups can take a variety of forms, from providing a safe and supportive social environment; more or less structured group meetings; information and guidance relating to how to use available help services; and a lot more.

    While it is difficult to know the effectiveness of such services, due to very different compositions of support and self-help services, the research generally show the self-help groups may have important benefits for the participants [Kurouz et al., 2002][4] .


  4. Helplines and chats




    Different helplines and chats exist. Some helplines are specialized in providing you with information and guidance, while others are more specialized in providing emotional support. Some helplines are highly professional, while others are more based on voluntary workers, that merely wish to be a caring listener.

    It is difficult to evalute how effective such services are, and it probably depends on many factors. For example, while the state of the science regarding the effectiveness of crisis response services remains limited, overall results provide support for such services [Hoffberg et al, 2020][5] .


  5. Online communities and forums




    Online communities and forums are options to get in contact with other individuals that struggle with something similar to you or someone you know. Some communities are moderated by professional health workers, while most of them are not.

    Online communities is traditionally not understood as a support or health service, but rather a social area - that may have the potential of being supportive for the individual that uses it. Importantly, research has shown that "people with serious mental illness report benefits from interacting with peers online from greater social connectedness, feelings of group belonging and by sharing personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness. Within online communities, individuals with serious mental illness could challenge stigma through personal empowerment and providing hope. By learning from peers online, these individuals may gain insight about important health care decisions, which could promote mental health care seeking behaviours" [Naslund et al., 2016][6] .

    This seems to indicate that online communites should not be underevaluated as a potential resource to recovery, coping and enhanced quality of life for people affected by mental health problems.



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References & Footnotes
  1. OUS, 2016: OUS: Oslo University Hospital (2016). Hva er personlighetsforstyrrelse?
  2. Cochrane Institute: Cochrane Institute: "Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health." Retrieved 9th of February 2020 from:
  3. Barak et al., 2008: Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. A. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human services26(2-4), 109-160.
  4. Kurouz et al., 2002: Kyrouz, E. M., Humphreys, K., & Loomis, C. (2002). A review of research on the effectiveness of self-help mutual aid groups. British Journal of Clinical Psychology33, 198-200.
  5. Hoffberg et al, 2020: Hoffberg, A. S., Stearns-Yoder, K. A., & Brenner, L. A. (2020). The effectiveness of crisis line services: A systematic review. Frontiers in public health7, 399.
  6. Naslund et al., 2016: Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences25(2), 113-122.