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Common Misconceptions

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Often, newly diagnosed patients are told that they have a personality disorder, that it is very complex and that there is no cure. A lot of psychiatrists believe that medication does not work on people with personality disorders and therefore should not be prescribed, so patients are often also told there is no medicine available that will help. Due to the behaviour of someone who has a personality disorder they are commonly called manipulative, attention-seeking, demanding and obstructive. I would like to go through these individually.


Dictionary definition: “To manage or influence skillfully, esp. in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings”

This is a very harsh comment to make about someone that is using the best skills they have available. Try to imagine what someone with a personality disorder has gone through, and then think about what extremes you would go to protect yourself. Isn’t it true that life is a fight for survival or would it be seen that way through the eyes of someone with a personality disorder?

Attention Seeking

Dictionary definition: “seizing the attention”

There are many people with personality disorders; they may be considered attention seekers but let me ask you, if you had a cold, what is it you look for from your partner or friends? Isn’t it comfort, reassurance and attention? So why would it be any different for someone suffering from severe emotional distress? The other point to note on this is that people with personality disorders have often had their behaviours reinforced. As an example should someone with a personality disorder threaten to cut themselves with a knife because their partner was going out for a drink with a mate and in turn the partner agreed not to go, the behaviour is reinforced and makes it more likely to occur again.


Dictionary definition: “requiring more than usually expected or thought due; especially great patience and effort and skill”

Imagine having a broken leg, you know there is treatment and with a little patience you will be better before you know it. With a personality disorder you are likely to experience the problem for many years with no real hope of a cure but your symptoms are likely to lessen as you grow older. Unlike a broken leg, you can not exactly see what is wrong but you can definitely feel it. I am sure everyone will agree this would make anyone quite demanding and impatient.


Dictionary definition: “To impede, retard, or interfere with; hinder”

People with mental health issues have been often through mental health services for years. People with a personality disorder are likely to be involved with services for much longer than the standard mental health patient. They are offered so many services and therapies that have different names but often mean the same; they often end up feeling like a bit of a guinea pig, and reluctant to continue with another service or therapy.