Personality Disorders (Part 2)

Odd or Eccentric Personalities

We learned from last week that “A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.” Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychological Association.

There are three groupings of personality disorders.  Cluster A, odd or eccentric Cluster B, dramatic and emotionally erratic, and Cluster C, anxious or fearful.  This week we will look at the first cluster of three types.

Paranoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness such that other’s motives are interpreted as malevolent (.5-2.5% of the general population).” Must meet four or more of the following criterion:

  1. They suspect (without basis) that others are exploiting or harming them.
  2. Preoccupied with doubts about loyalty of friends, family and associates.
  3. Reluctant to confide in others, suspecting disloyalty.
  4. Reads inaccurate meanings into benign remarks or events.
  5. Bears grudges, and unforgiving of perceived insults, or slights.
  6. Perceives character is constantly being attacked by others.
  7. Suspects that spouse is unfaithful.

Schizoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of emotional expression.”  Must meet four or more of the following criterion:

  1. Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including family.
  2. Almost always chooses solitary activities.
  3. Has little interest in sexual experiences.
  4. Takes pleasure in few activities.
  5. Lacks close friends or confidants other than close relatives.
  6. Appears indifferent to praise or criticism of others.
  7. Shows flattened emotions, coldness, indifference and detachment from others.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is a pattern of acute discomfort in close relationships, cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior (3% of the general population).” Must meet five or more of the following criterion:

  1. Incorrect interpretations of incidences or events.
  2. Odd beliefs, superstitious, fantasies & preoccupations, telepathy or clairvoyance.
  3. Body illusions and unusual perceptions about movements affecting environment or other’s behavior.
  4. Odd thinking or speech.
  5. Suspicious & paranoid thoughts.
  6. Inappropriate & constricted emotional reponses.
  7. Behavior & dress that others think eccentric or peculiar.
  8. Lack of close friends.
  9. Excessive social anxiety & paranoid fears.

Note: All of these usually manifest in late adolescence or early adulthood.  They must be professionally diagnosed so as to not be confused with other conditions.  Understanding these observations can help to explain “uncle Harry” or “Aunt Wilma’s” unusual behaviors.  More importantly though, if the person is close to you like a spouse or a child, you need to know what it is you are up against.

Therapist’s challenge is to win their trust, help them understand their condition and take them through a process of healing.

The challenge to the spouse or family member is to learn strategies to gain control of your marriage or family system.  There is a need to gain control, reclaim your life and protect the other adults or children from dangerous behavior.

Personality disorders just like all mental illnesses are a manifestation of sin.  We are all broken.  This is due to the innate nature of the fallen human condition as well as harm done to us by other’s sinful behaviors upon us. It is a missing of the mark, a transgression, a violation of the heart, mind and will of God.  The Apostle Paul wrote this about the liberation of the believer in Christ.

“What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be!  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
have been baptized into His death?
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death,
in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.
For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,
knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him,
that our body of sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin;
for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
knowing that Christ having been raised from the dead, is never to die again;
death no longer is master over Him.
For the death that he died, He died to sin, once for all;
but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin,
but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:1-11).”

The only hope for all of us is to understand that because of our privileged position in Christ, we’re dead to sin and no longer obligated to follow its lead.  We have a new master and the hope of growth (sanctification) by choosing to claim our newfound position as Christians and purposing to obey God’s direction with respect to Biblical world view, attitudes, and behavioral changes.  Therefore, we believe, that all persons who embrace Christ, can grow out of any condition within which they find themselves, including personality disorders.

Thanks and blessings,


Milan & Kay

Next week: Cluster B: Dramatic and emotionally erratic.