By LINDA J. STOCKTON
EDITOR’S NOTE: First of three columns.
Gregory Lester, an expert in personality disorders, says to think of your personality like a tool kit that helps you function in life.
Your personality is considered normal if it includes a sufficiently diverse set of tools and traits that enable you to deal with the various demands of life. Essential characteristics include:
• Being flexible and adaptable, handling unexpected situations in a way that produces more positive than negative consequences.
• The ability to improve results, observing when you make a mistake and taking corrective action to avoid doing it again.
• The ability to effectively solve problems. For example, identify problems and possible solutions, evaluate options, implement solutions, evaluate outcomes and make adjustments.
In order to develop these tools, you need to have a functioning observing ego.
This is an essential internal mechanism that works kind of like having someone else spy on your thoughts, behaviors, emotions and actions then giving you feedback about the reality of the situation.
The tool kit of a disordered personality is incomplete or deficient and lacks self-awareness. According to Dr. W. John Livesley, “A disordered personality is a human being who persists in a behavior in the face of clear evidence it is inappropriate, and ongoing bad consequences.”
The diagnostic criteria say a personality disorder is pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that has the following characteristics.
• is enduring and inflexible, persists over time,
• is pervasive,
• involves both inner-experience, or how the person perceives/interprets the world, and external behavior, or methods used to attempt to achieve outcomes,
• differs significantly from the expectations of the person’s culture,
• involves two or more of the following important areas of functioning: thinking, feeling, interpersonal functioning, impulse control,
• leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social areas, occupational areas or other important areas of life skills.
In the next two weekends, I will identify the different types of personality disorders and their respective deficiencies. I’ll also share what causes them and how they are treated.
Stockton is a professional clinical counselor and owner of Inner Peace Counseling, Findlay. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.
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