What Makes People Act like Psychopaths? . .. and How to Make Sure They Don't Destroy YOU --as This Brilliant New Series by a Leading Psychiatrist Explains; Personality Disorders Are SERIOUS Conditions; They Can Cause Aggressive and Erratic Behaviour Amongst Other Symptoms but the Good News Is They Can Be Treated by Doctors

Daily Mail (London), July 11, 2017 | Go to article overview

What Makes People Act like Psychopaths? . .. and How to Make Sure They Don't Destroy YOU --as This Brilliant New Series by a Leading Psychiatrist Explains; Personality Disorders Are SERIOUS Conditions; They Can Cause Aggressive and Erratic Behaviour Amongst Other Symptoms but the Good News Is They Can Be Treated by Doctors


Byline: DR MAX PEMBERTON

HARDLY a week goes by these days without mental health making the news; with everyone from celebrities to politicians keen to share their own struggles with depression or anxiety.

But there is one psychiatric condition that remains conspicuously absent from the discussions, even though an estimated one in ten of us will experience it at some point.

Unlike bipolar disorder or postnatal depression, people don't seem to want to admit having this condition -you won't see them going on fun runs for it or talking about their experiences on morning TV.

That's because for this condition, the stigma is still very much alive and kicking.

While most people could name one or two personality disorders (such as psychopath), there are actually ten types, and many of us will have at least one of them at some stage in our lives.

Yet many people do not even know personality disorder exists, leaving those affected -and the people around them -to suffer in silence.

Psychiatrists such as myself see many people with personality disorders and know the pain and distress they can cause.

Lots of people have aspects of a personality disorder. But unless it's causing serious problems, then it's often said they have 'traits' of a personality disorder, but not the full-blown version -where the symptoms are a constant feature that hampers their life.

So in this way, personality disorder is really on a continuum. For example, many surgeons and lawyers, score highly on psychopathic disorder scales, yet they have found a job where their ability to be cold and calculating, incredibly focused and to cut themselves off from the emotions of others actually helps them do their job.

While they might have psychopathic personality traits, we wouldn't say they had a disorder.

Similarly, many celebrities have narcissistic personality traits. But it's these traits that have enabled them to succeed, for example, by taking advantage of others and prioritising their own needs.

Some of the symptoms of personality disorders, in isolation, can seem to be advantageous. People with histrionic personality disorder, for example, are often great fun: the perfect 'party person'.

However, this is enjoyable for only so long, and friends and family will often tire of such behaviour when they seek peace and quiet.

Despite being so common, personality disorders are shrouded in secrecy and shame, with even many doctors not fully understanding how to spot them. As a result, they can sometimes be misdiagnosed as depression or bipolar disorder because they appear to share some symptoms.

There is also general confusion around the terms used to describe personality disorders, and what -if any -treatments work.

It used to be thought, for instance, that people with a personality disorder had one for life, and there was little that could be done to help.

Research has now shown that people do get better and their symptoms can improve -with the right treatment.

The chances are you're closely related to someone with the traits of a personality disorder, are married to one, or work with one. But how would you know if they have a personality disorder that needs treatment? In this first part of a new series, I set out to demystify this hidden yet extremely common problem -and hopefully provide some of the answers to help you cope with it.

PERSONALITY IS A BIT LIKE BAKING

TO UNDERSTAND what a personality disorder is, we first have to get to grips with what personality is -trickier than you might think, as how we behave towards people can differ from one situation to another. Generally speaking, though, personality is a combination of the key characteristics that govern how we behave, think and feel. While we all have similar traits, different people have different quantities in different combinations. …

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What Makes People Act like Psychopaths? . .. and How to Make Sure They Don't Destroy YOU --as This Brilliant New Series by a Leading Psychiatrist Explains; Personality Disorders Are SERIOUS Conditions; They Can Cause Aggressive and Erratic Behaviour Amongst Other Symptoms but the Good News Is They Can Be Treated by Doctors
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