Specific Personality Disorders

What are Specific Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders – persistent character anomalies, consisting of a combination of genetic and acquired properties that lead to social maladaptation. According to Gannushkin P.B., they are characterized by a violation of adaptation, the totality of the defeat of the psyche and low reversibility. Personality disorders are usually noticeable since childhood as special disharmonies and disproportionate development of the psyche. In dynamics, the phases of compensation and decompensation alternate. S.S. Korsakov pointed out that “The psychopathic constitution is a persistent painful disorder that is firmly connected with the characteristics of the mental warehouse, which already constitutes its fundamental weakness, becomes its characteristic property forever or for a rather long time.” O.V. Kerbikov divided psychopathy (the former name of specific personality disorders) into marginal, developing mainly under the influence of social factors, and nuclear, due to biological, constitutionally hereditary factors. M.O. Gurevich added organic psychopathies to these groups – the consequences of exogenous-organic harmfulness, manifested in anomalies of characterological development. An anomaly of personality grows in prepubertal from patho-characterological reactions, patho-characteristic development, therefore, the diagnosis of personality disorder is made from 16 to 17 years. They are related to borderline mental disorders. The exaggerated development of one of the character traits is considered accentuation (K. Leonhard, 1964), which is a variant of the norm.

E. Kretschmer considered character anomalies to be the result of development asynchrony, in which some character traits develop tremendously in connection with compensating for the insufficient development of other mental functions. J. Price believed that character anomalies are the result of a distorted development of the dominance function in the hierarchy system – this is the result of an incorrect awareness of one’s biological rank.

It is possible to distinguish constitutional genetic, organic and psychodynamic factors leading to the development of character anomalies. The contribution of genetic factors to the development of personality traits is up to 60%, most of the abnormal personality traits are transmitted according to a recessive or polygenic type. Theories of the late 19th century considered mental degeneration in families to be the cause of character anomalies. Long-term somatic and neurological disorders in childhood, pre-, postnatal pathology, traumatic brain injuries contribute to the formation of an abnormal nature. A significant role is played by upbringing in an abnormal and asymmetric family, the frequent background of which is the use by parents of psychoactive substances. Nevertheless, there are facts of the development of completely harmonious personalities even in the presence of all adverse circumstances, as well as facts of the development of abnormal personalities in outwardly harmonious and genetically prosperous families. Part of the abnormal personality traits develops as a kind of hypercompensation of mental deficiency (inferiority complex). From an analytical point of view, most personality abnormalities are associated with developmental delay and distortion of the stages of psychosexuality, while acquired abnormal features are more often the result of regression.

Symptoms of Specific Personality Disorders

General diagnostic guidelines for personality abnormalities are defined as conditions that cannot be directly explained by extensive brain damage or illness or other mental disorder. They must meet the following criteria:

  • disharmony in personal positions and behavior, usually involving several areas of functioning, for example, affectiveness, excitability, control of motives, processes of perception and thinking, as well as the style of attitude towards other people;
  • the chronic nature of the abnormal style of behavior that has arisen for a long time and is not limited to episodes of mental illness;
  • an abnormal style of behavior is comprehensive and clearly violates adaptation to a wide range of personal and social situations;
  • the aforementioned manifestations always arise in childhood or adolescence and continue to exist in the period of maturity, often sharpening of personality traits is noted at a later age;
  • the disorder leads to significant personality distress, but this can only become apparent in the later stages of the course;
  • usually, but not always, the disorder is accompanied by a significant deterioration in professional and social productivity.