Personality disorders

As a resident doing my psychiatry rotation, I was trying to memorize the features of the different personality disorders. For example:

Histrionic personality disorder

  • needs to be the centre of attention
  • inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour
  • rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
  • use of physical appearance to seek attention
  • speech style is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  • dramatic, theatrical
  • easily influenced by others or situations
  • considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are

and

Schizotypal personality disorder

  • lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  • excessive social anxiety
  • odd beliefs or magical thinking
  • strange manner of speech
  • eccentric or peculiar appearance and behaviour
  • ideas of reference (e.g. belief that messages are hidden for him/her in the newspaper)
  • suspicious or paranoid ideas
  • inappropriate emotions

*From the DSM-IV-TR

There are ten personality disorders. To make the studying easier, I devised an exercise where I considered my friends and family, one by one, and decided which personality disorder I would assign to them, if I were forced to pick one.

This was easier than I'd like to admit. Sometimes the difficulty lay in selecting only one diagnosis.

The process was so fascinating, I made the mistake of mentioning it to some friends that evening. Naturally they were clamouring to know what they were - schizoid? antisocial?

I chose my answers very carefully. Let's just say that I seem to have surrounded myself with narcissists and obsessive-compulsives.