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What Is Personality Disorder?

Personality disorder informative videos

If you want to know more, we suggest you click and watch three videos about personality disorder.

 

Introduction to personality disorder

Personality disorder is a psychiatric term and draws on a medical framework to try to understand human emotions, behaviour and distress. It refers to a group of 10 controversial mental health diagnoses. The precise meaning of each personality disorder is set out in the diagnostic criteria which are used to give someone a diagnosis; these are outlined in the diagnosis section of this website.

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Personality disorder diagnosis

Giving someone a diagnosis of personality disorder is highly controversial (see Why is PD a controversial diagnosis? section). This is in part because of the stigma surrounding this label which can lead to discrimination. In addition, some people find the diagnosis insulting and unhelpful.

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Causes of personality disorder

There is no widespread agreement about what causes personality disorder. There are a number of different theories and debate and research continues.  These different theories broadly reflect different ways of understanding human distress. Some people do not think it is helpful to talk about causes because this is based on the controversial notion that PD exists as a condition or disease.

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Why are personality disorders controversial diagnoses?

Personality disorders (PD) are extremely controversial diagnoses, provoking heated debate among people with personal experience of these diagnoses, mental health staff, researchers and policy makers. Controversy centres on the three following points:

  • Do personality disorders actually exist as objective ‘disorders’?
  • Are these diagnoses a useful way of understanding distress and coping strategies?
  • What are the implications of these diagnoses for broader political questions about inequality, abuse and other social problems?
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