Friday, September 27, 2013

Understanding Passive Aggressive Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Most likely you have heard the term “passive-aggressive anger” which is a person who gets angry but doesn’t show it right away and instead stabs you in the back later.  While the experience hurts, you are not likely to forget the passive-aggressive approach.  Now take this concept and expand it to not just one emotion of anger but in nearly every aspect of a person’s personality.  This is passive aggressive where blame is shifted from them to you and no responsibility or accountability is taken by them.

So what is Passive Aggressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, passive aggressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify passive aggressive as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of passive aggressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

·         Hostility

·         Depressivity

The practical definition looks more like this:

·         Acts sullen

·         Avoids responsibility by claiming forgetfulness

·         Inefficient on purpose

·         Blames others

·         Complains

·         Feels resentment

·         Has unexpressed anger

·         Procrastinates

·         Resists suggestions

The movie “Bride Wars” featured two main characters who displayed some passive aggressive traits in a humorous setting.  But the main character Emma took passive aggressive to a personality level where she had issues in several areas of her life of putting things off, getting back at her friend in an underhanded way, intentionally being inefficient, and being resentful.  

So how do you deal with a person who might be passive aggressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

·         They can be very angry and you will not know it until it is too late and they are stabbing you in the back.  So be on guard.

·         This personality is not immature behavior although the behavior does look immature.  Rather their behavior is a personality issue and they will not outgrow it.

·         Eventually they will comply to wishes, demands, or expectations but it will be late and seem almost rebellious in nature.

·         When they get angry, they have a tendency to sabotage whatever is going on.  This is your clue that something is wrong as they are not likely to communicate anger.

·         By contrast, they hate outward signs of anger and routinely shut down when others are aggressive.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of passive aggressive is that they seem like adult teenagers that you just want to shove into reality.  But they are not, this is not a condition that goes away with time and experience usually does not change their behavior.  If you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive, get some counsel to learn to better manage your expectations and establish healthy boundaries for your protection.

Understanding Depressive Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
Being depressive is not the same thing as having depression.  The two can look the same to an outside person as the symptoms are similar.  The major difference is that a depressive can actually have depression but a person with depression is not depressive.  Depression is situational such as grieving the loss of a friend or it is chemical such as your body overproducing certain hormones.  Depressive is a personality trait and is not based on situation or chemical factors.
 
So what is Depressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, depressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify depressives as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of depressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:
·         Depressivity
·         Anxiousness
·         Anhedonia - absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it
The practical definition looks more like this:
·         Feels dejected, gloomy, and worthless
·         Self-critical and derogatory
·         Is negativistic, critical and judgmental toward others
·         Pessimistic
·         Feels guilty or remorseful
In the movie “The Hours”, the three main characters all demonstrated different forms of depressive personality.  While each of them was depressed for a period of time, such as the suicide attempt, the overall appearance was a gloomy or depressive state.  This was unchanging no matter how hard the other people in their lives worked to minimize the depressiveness.  The depressiveness never when away completely and two of the three characters learned to live with it. 
So how do you deal with a person who might be depressive?  Here are a few suggestions:
·         Don’t minimize their feelings of inadequacy or depression; rather reassure them that your support is not contingent upon how they feel.
·         Do a small act of encouragement or show gratefulness to them whenever you can without expecting it to change or modify their behavior.
·         If one thing goes wrong in their life, it all comes crashing down so don’t overreact even if they are over or under reacting.
·         They spiral easily to a depressive state so keep things as smooth as possible.
·         They aren’t able to “look on the bright side” so don’t expect it or get angry when they can’t.
·         Listen to their worries and fears without criticism or judgment.  This is not a spiritual condition and cannot be fixed through spiritual methods; this is a personality condition and is as ingrained as the color of their eyes.
It can be frustrating at times to have a depressive person in your life but their mood does not need to infect your mood.  Learn to set and maintain good boundaries in your life so you don’t feel responsible for trying to help them feel better.  You are not responsible.  Rather get some guidance as to how to approach them and have a healthy relationship despite the depressiveness.


 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Understanding Histrionic Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
Histrionic is defined as overly dramatic or emotional but as a personality trait histrionic includes overly sexual or provocative.  Interestingly enough a histrionic will see themselves as very sexual even when they are not sexually appealing or even physically attractive.  It is almost as if they have rose colored glasses on when they look in the mirror and then take them off when they look at others.
So what is Histrionic?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, histrionic is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify histrionics as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of histrionics are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:
·         Emotional – crying uncontrollably
·         Manipulative
·         Attention seeking
The practical definition looks more like this:
·         Dresses provocatively
·         Acts very dramatically
·         Gullible
·         Low tolerance for frustration
·         Makes rash decisions
·         Threatens or attempts suicide
One of the best examples of a histrionic is Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind”.  Her flair for the overly dramatic, the constant demand for attention, the quick foolish decisions, and emphasis on provocative clothing even during her impoverished years is typical histrionic.  It was all about Scarlett and she was furious at anyone who did not give her attention when she wanted it.
So how do you deal with a person who might be histrionic?  Here are a few suggestions:
·         “You look nice today” is a safe way to give needed attention without getting into the specifics of their clothing.  Remember they are dressing provocatively on purpose so don’t go too crazy on the compliments.
·         Allow them to be the center of attention for a specific time period to get it out of their system and then they will be more likely to share the stage with others.
·         Do your best to minimize conflict when they are around or they will shut down.  They are not great fighters despite their forwardness.
·         Don’t play into their drama moments.  Instead set firm boundaries in your dealings with them.
·         Don’t get emotional, they have a sixth sense about emotion and will play on it.  Sometimes they even turn the emotion sexual when that was the last thing on your mind.
·         Be very careful because they make rash decisions which means they might agree now but won’t later.
You might be wondering what the difference is between Borderline Personality Disorder and a histrionic because when you put the two disorders side by side they do have some of the same characterizations.  Borderlines don’t tend to be as sexual as histrionics.  While they do engage in inappropriate sexual acts or make overly provocative comments, histrionics take it to the next level and make everything sexual to the point of nauseating.  If you are dealing with this, please get some help.  This is too tiring to deal with alone.


 

Understanding Schizoid Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The name “schizoid” was coined in the early 1900’s but it really has nothing to do with similar names like schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or schizotypal.  Rather, it is closer in identity to avoidant personality disorder with many of the same characteristics and traits but adds the element of a blunt affect.  Perhaps the best definition of a schizoid is a person who pulls away from others and their own emotions or feelings thereby creating flat emotionless responses.

So what is Schizoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, schizoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify schizoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of schizoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

·         Social withdrawal

·         Intimacy avoidance

·         Restricted affectivity – blunted affect

·         Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

·         Prefers being alone

·         Little desire for sexual relationships

·         Unable to experience pleasure

·         Comes off as dull or cold

·         Feels unmotivated

What does this look like in person?  Remember Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the head butler in “Remains of the Day”?  This is an excellent example of a schizoid.  The head butler focused on his job over all social encounters and disappeared into the background seamlessly.  Even when pressed about his feelings, he was unable to communicate them or show any real emotion.  This was not just proper job training for a butler; it was an aspect of his personality.


·         Because they won’t talk much, don’t expect a lot of feedback.  A little goes a long way.

·         They are not likely to go to lunch or engage in talks over the water cooler so don’t force it.

·         They will seem odd or indifferent in most social or work environments but they are comfortable with that so it won’t do any good to point it out or try to force them to be something they cannot be.

·         Emotional reasoning won’t work because they aren’t in touch with their own feelings let alone the feelings with others.  Rather logical reasoning will work.

·         They are very comfortable being alone so don’t engage or try to force them to talk during awkward silence.  Most likely the only one uncomfortable with the silence is you, not them.

·         One of the greatest mistakes you can make is that their silence means agreement.  It does not!  While this might be true for most of the population, this is not true for schizoids. 

·         They generally need time to process decisions so give them deadlines for feedback.  Don’t leave a decision open-ended or you will never get the input you need from them.

If you find that you are in a relationship with a schizoid, get some counseling advice to manage your levels of exhaustion.  Their silence and blunt affect can be very frustrating especially for a person who likes to engage in conversation and is not afraid to show appropriate emotions.  Schizoids are capable of wonderful relationships but you need to understand their natural limitations and not have expectations that contradict with their abilities.

Understanding Paranoid Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Have you ever met someone who truly believes that everyone is out to get them?  They are paranoid about family, friends, co-workers, the trash man, the police, or even the cashier at the grocery store.  When confronted they can site numerous reasons not to trust other people and insist that the problem is everyone else and not them.  Or is it?  Paranoids are just that, paranoid.

So what is Paranoid?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, paranoid is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify paranoids as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of paranoid are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

·         Distrust and suspiciousness

·         Intimacy avoidance

·         Hostility

·         Unusual beliefs and experiences

The practical definition looks more like this:

·         Believes others are using them

·         Reluctant to confide in others

·         Unforgiving and holds grudges

·         Takes criticism poorly

·         Reacts with anger, retaliates

·         Cold, distant, controlling, and jealous

·         Believes they are always right

Mel Gibson in his portrayal of Jerry in “Conspiracy Theory” did a wonderful job showing what paranoids look like in real life.  The constant looking over his shoulder, reading more meaning into seemingly meaningless things, the hypervigilant behavior, and intense anger are all characterizations of a paranoid. 

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

·         Although they are highly logical, don’t try to logically reason their paranoid thoughts away.  It won’t work and the only one who will get more frustrated is you.

·         Paranoid beliefs are rooted in childhood and have nothing to do with present circumstances no matter what they say.  There really are no magic ingredients of affirmation that will stop the paranoia.

·         They record as many things as possible by video or audio including people or family in their own home, so expect it.  To everyone else, this seems a bit strange and weird but to them, this is normal.

·         Choose your words carefully when speaking as they frequently read far more meaning into them then intended.

·         All it takes is one comment they don’t like and they will shut you out of their life forever because you are unsafe.

Living with a paranoid is exhausting because they can fake social interaction but inside they don’t do social interaction really well and will often leave saying all kinds of horrible things about the people they were just nice to.  Their paranoia will be pervasive as in nearly every conversation some form of it will appear.  Most of the time they have learned to say things like, “I was just trying to keep you safe” or “I can see things that you don’t” as a way of softening the paranoia.  But it is still there.  You need help if you are dealing with someone who has this as their perception of reality is usually way off balance.

Understanding Dependent Personality Trait


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

The word “dependent” is the perfect descriptive word to summarize the personality trait.  Dependents are dependent on others for all areas of emotional support and affirmation and are usually dependent on one person in particular such as a spouse or parent.  Often their dependence is in direct contrast to the person they are dependent on who is very much independent.  Dependents as a general rule of thumb don’t like others to be dependent on them but are comfortable being dependent on others.

So what is Dependent?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, dependent is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify dependents as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of dependent are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

·         Submissiveness

·         Anxiousness

·         Separation insecurity – fear of loss

The practical definition looks more like this:

·         Indecisiveness

·         Acts passive and helpless

·         Oversensitivity to criticism

·         Avoids disagreeing with others

·         Tolerates mistreatment and abuse

·         Places needs of caregivers above own

·         Naive

Dependents are different from co-dependents in that the other person is not dependent on them.  Remember the TV show “Friends”?  Ross from that show did an excellent job as a dependent.  More importantly was the relationship between him and Rachel and how she was not nearly as dependent on him as he was on her which made for many humorous scenes.  This is classic dependent personality trait.

So how do you deal with a person who might be dependent?  Here are a few suggestions:

·         Because they seek approval, expect they will try to seek your approval even for the little things.  It is almost as if they can’t make a decision without running it by you, even small decisions.

·         Be reassuring with a dependent and don’t push them away.  They are very sensitive to criticism and pushing away is the same thing as rejection.

·         “You are doing the right thing” is very comforting to say to a dependent especially if they have to confront someone else or stand up for themselves.

·         Even small decisions require your approval, so give it without anger, resentment, bitterness, sarcasm, or minimizing.

·         If you take the time to validate their feelings then they will be on your side for life.  If you minimize their feelings, they will see that as rejection.

·         Don’t ever belittle them in front of others and always refrain from sarcasm when speaking with them.

Dependents are great at relationships because they are so giving and willing to put up with all kinds of nonsense.  But don’t take them for granted or you could lose them for good.  Understanding the nature of a dependent and not having unrealistic expectations will help your relationship to greatly improve as most dependents make friends for life.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Understanding Schizotypal Personality Disorder


By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Pop quiz: what word is similar to “schizotypal”?  If you said “schizophrenia,” then you are right.  Schizotypal is derived from the two words schizophrenia and genotype.  Schizophrenias see, hear and believe things that aren’t really there.  Genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual, think DNA.  So putting the two together a Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) is someone who has may seem schizophrenic but is not a full-blown schizophrenic.  Confused yet?  Good because that is precisely what it feels like to speak to a SPD. 

So what is SPD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

·      Identity:  Confused boundaries between self and others

·      Self-direction:  Incoherent goals, no clear set of standards

·      Empathy:  Difficulty understanding impact of behavior on others

·      Intimacy:  Mistrust and anxiety with close relationships

·      Eccentricity:  Odd, unusual, or bizarre behavior and appearance

·      Cognitive and perceptual dysregulation:  Odd or unusual thought processes, over-elaborate speech

·      Unusual beliefs and experiences:  Unusual experiences of reality

·      Restricted affectivity:  Little reaction to emotional situations, indifference or coldness

·      Withdrawal:  Preference for being alone

·      Suspiciousness:  Expectations of signs of interpersonal harm

The practical definition looks more like this:

·      Loner lacking close friends

·      Feels external events have personal meaning

·      Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior

·      Dresses in peculiar ways

·      Belief in special powers

·      Phantom pains

·      Excessive social anxiety

·      Rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations

·      Suspicious or paranoid ideas

·      Doubts the loyalty of others

·      Flat emotions

Still not sure what a SPD looks like in person?  Lisa Kudrow who played Pheobe from “Friends” did a wonderful job portraying SPD.  Remember the “Smelly Cat” song or the “Pigeon” song (look them up on YouTube)?  None of her songs ever made sense which added to the humor of the show but for a SPD what they are saying makes perfect sense and everyone else is crazy.

So how do you deal with a person who might have SPD?  Here are a few suggestions:

·      Don’t follow them down the rabbit trail, stay focused on the topic.

·      Don’t try to apply logic to random comments; it only frustrates you, not them.

·      Emotional reasoning won’t work either because their emotions don’t make sense with the circumstances.

·      They will agree with you even when they don’t.

·      Put everything in writing for future reference.

·      Expect to re-explain over and over.

·      Be patient, show no emotion.  They shut down when confronted.

·      Questions should be simple almost child-like.

SPDs live in their own world and are very happy that way.  While they will invite you in on occasion, the level of intimacy will not be the same as other people in your life.  Be patient with SPDs and allow them to control the speed of the relationship, they will be much more willing to engage that way.