Personality disorders are not like any other kind of psychological illness. The first and most important thing one should do when dealing with disorders of the personality is learn as much as possible about the disorder. Personality disorder is a term used to describe someone who has a maladaptive and severe way of relating to others and adjusting to his or her surroundings. The most hindering aspect of a personality disorder is that persons with one generally do not see any need to change their behaviors, they see their disorder traits as being quite natural.
There are three types of personality disorders. The first type is the eccentric type, including schizoid, paranoid, and schizotypal disorder. People with this type of disorder tend to have problems relating to others and have little interest in developing relationships. The second type is the dramatic type, including narcissistic, antisocial, histrionic, and borderline disorders. People with any of these disorders are often unpredictable, violent, self-centered, and have trouble with relationships, The third type is the anxious type which includes dependent, avoidant, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. This one is self-explanatory, people with these types of disorders are most often fearful and anxious.
Because people with personality disorders do not recognize that they have a problem, they are reluctant to go for treatment. Even for those who do reluctantly go to treatment, they tend to drop out or refuse to cooperate because they feel threatened, overwhelmed, and depressed. It depends on the type of disorder as to how it would best be treated, but all personality disorders must be treated with some type of psychotherapy. While drug therapies are useful to control symptoms they cannot change the behavior patterns.
When someone with a personality disorder refuses treatment, the family often suffers. It is often just as important for the family to seek some type of counseling as it is for the person with the personality disorder. First of all, members of the family need to set firm boundaries with the person afflicted, a sort of tough love, so to speak. It is vital not to feel guilty about the behaviors of the family member who suffers from the disorder, just as it is vital to develop self-care strategies. For example, antisocial personality and borderline personality types can be dangerous to others so in instances of violence an escape plan may be needed. It is important for family members to accept the feelings and behaviors of the individual, rather than belittle and correct them; but is equally important to passively point out when these behaviors are hindering and point out alternative ways of dealing with situations, and try to avoid stressors within the relationship. The family should be seen not as the enemy, but as the ally.
It can be a difficult life living with someone who has a diagnosis of personality disorder, but the more you understand it, the better you will be able to cope.
Source: Nevid, J.S., Rathus S.A., and Greene, B. (2006). Abnormal psychology in a changing world, 6th ed. New
Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.