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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #25 of 52: Cognitive Psychology | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #27 of 52: The Self Concept and the Self Image »

March 30, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #26 of 52: The Human Personality and its Disorders

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Each human being has a personality. This means that he has a specific and habitual pattern of relating to his world, of relating to his physical and social environment, of relating to other people. Each person has a pattern of thinking and behaving in his world. That habitual pattern of thinking is his personality.

From the moment a child is born, he begins to learn ways to adapt to his world. His inherited biological constitution and his social experiences play roles in the manner he adopts in relating to his world, in forming his personality. (In this brief essay, we shall not concern ourselves with personality theory, observers’ speculations on how people came to develop their personalities.)

Personality can be normal or abnormal. Where it is normal the individual, more or less, gets along with other people in his world in a harmonious manner and is able to hold down a job and make a living.

Where there is a personality disorder, the individual has social conflicts and is unable to get along with other people. Whereas, his intellectual functioning may be well, he has social disorders. He may, for example be a good engineer, but has problematic interpersonal relationships.

Psychology currently has eleven personality disorders; paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, antisocial, avoidant, obsessive compulsive, dependent and passive aggressive. We have covered these personality disorders elsewhere and will, therefore, only briefly review them here.

The paranoid personality is genially very suspicious, does not trust other people, feels that other people are trying to demean him, insult him, denigrate him, humiliate him, and belittles him. He is always accusing people of demeaning him and is very litigious, sues people he believes demeaned him, so as to use the legal system to make his ego seem important in his and other people’s eyes.

The schizoid personality does not care much for socializing with other persons, and keeps to him self most of the time.

The schizotypal personality is eccentric and odd and is interested in extrasensory perception and may claim to have extraordinary powers, such as psychic powers.

The narcissistic person feels that he is special, important and, as such, that other people ought to admire him and pay attention to him; believing himself superior to other people, he often justifies exploiting other people, uses them to get what he wants and discards them when they are no longer useful to him.

The histrionic personality seeks attention through dramatic ways and lacks deep caring for other people; she gravitates to those who give her attention and place her on a pedestal.

The borderline personality has dysfunctions in many areas of her life and often threatens suicide when she is not paid attention to; she carves on her body to get other people to feel guilty and pay attention to her; she may have gender issues and gravitate to confused sexual behavior with whoever pays her attention.

The antisocial personality does not care for other people; he steals and may even kill and does not feel remorse or guilt from doing those things; in fact, he may enjoy harming other people.
The avoidant personality feels inferior and thinks that if other people get close to him that they would see that he is not good and reject him and to avoid rejection he avoids other people. In social isolation he retains precarious positive self esteem.

The obsessive compulsive personality is always thinking; he thinks as if ideas are intrusive and he cannot not think about them; sometimes, he acts compulsively, such as touch things, check and re-check his doors to make sure that they are locked, his stove, to make sure that the stove is turned off etc.

The dependent personality feels weak and wants other people to lead him, to tell him what to do with his life; he is a follower, not a leader.

The passive aggressive personality pleases every person; he goes along with their demands on him then feels resentful towards those he is pleasing, for he feels imposed on by them, and every once in a while explodes with anger at those he feels are relating to him as if he were a door mat.

There are other possible personality types, such as masochist (desires pain from other people) and sadist (inflicts pain on others). But these could be subsumed under the ones we already mentioned, the masochist could fit into passive aggressive personality, while the sadist could fit under antisocial personality disorder (also called sociopath or psychopath).

I will not attempt to explain these personality types here. I have done so elsewhere. My present goal is to list the various personality types and leave it at that. If you feel that you have a personality disorder, please go see a mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist) for help.

Whereas most people are normal in their personality structures, at least, five percent of the population has personality disorders. It is these disordered personalities that cause most of our human problems.

The truly mentally ill, the schizophrenic and or manic, are too out of it to create problems for society; it is the partially sane and partially insane personality disordered person that creates problems for society.

A paranoid personality, for example, is motivated by power. He feels totally inferior and inadequate and seeks power. In organizations, he wants to be the boss and may wound up the president of his country and proceed to harm, even kill those he believes do not see him as he wants to be seen: an all powerful god. Examples are Hitler, Stalin, and Idi Amin etc.

Antisocial personalities steal and murder people. In short, persons with personality disorders do create problems for their fellow human beings.

If you have a personality disorder, do not deny that fact; go seek help for your lifestyle problem. It is possible to understand your personality, and where it is problematic change it.

Psychotherapists exist to help folks understand themselves and change themselves, where change is possible and live with what cannot be changed. Nigeria is filled with personality disordered persons; in fact, these people run the various Nigerian governments. It is about time we removed these disordered persons from our governments and, instead, had healthy and pro-social persons govern us.

Posted by Administrator at March 30, 2006 12:15 AM


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