Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

personality disorder case studies

The following personality disorder case descriptions are based on observations and discussions with people suffering from personality disorder and rely heavily on the courage and honesty of

many clients both during therapy and in service user forums.

Personality disorder has its roots in childhood and adolescence, when the personality is developing. Commonly, those with personality disorder have experienced prolonged abuse or emotional disturbance, which appear to interfere with the development of a healthy personality complete with the coping mechanisms and social skills necessary for healthy relationships and interactions in society.

It is important to note that, although sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect are common, sometimes a fragile child perceives rejection and abuse in the absence of actual abuse, see the personality disorder case below.

Clair was brought up in a home with a father who was withdrawn and emotionally unavailable, as he was suffering from depression. Clair believed her father avoided her because she was somehow flawed and unlovable. In fact, her father feared passing on his depression and avoided her in order to protect her.

Her mother worked long hours to provide for the family, leaving her in the care of her grandmother. After her grandmother’s death, when Clair was 13, Clair felt abandoned and alone. Once this belief of being unlovable was fixed in her mind, it began to affect the way she perceived the world and coloured all her interactions with people. Her self-esteem sank to a level that made it impossible for her to have normal healthy relationships with anyone, and over a period of years she deteriorated to a level where she could barely function.

She hated herself and felt continuously suicidal. Clair also felt intense anger at her parents and had made life very difficult for them. Despite this, Clair’s parents continued to love and support her in many ways. Clair, however, could not see this and continued to believe she was unloved.

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