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
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.