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Personality Disorders - An Exposition

by William Anthony, C.Ht, NLP

This article is not meant for any specific medical diagnosis or treatment. While much of it refers to established therapeutic definitions, this is an article of opinion and theory and should be treated as such.

No warranty is expressed or implied, blah blah blah. -William

Introduction - Motivations and Weapons

A personality disorder is defined as "a pervasive pattern of experience and behavior that is abnormal with respect to the following: thinking, mood, personal relations, and control of impulses."

My opinion of personality disorders, which I feel are more functional and practical, identify their pattern of behavior with respect to:

  • Values and attitude towards the truth
  • Empathy
  • Relationships
  • Motivations
  • Weapons

A person reveals who they are through their personality. Personality is directly related to a person's perception of reality and how they fit in with it. A person's basest perceptions are their personal VALUES, which are the foundation of a person's behavior and thinking.

Personality and behavior is based on individual values - for example, perception of truth, honesty, respect for others, sense of fair play.

A person's core coping skills is related to how they cope with Honesty, Justice, and Empathy. How someone deals with these three concepts determines their Motivations and Weapons.

A person's character is demonstrated by his or her outward personality -- by the way a person behaves.  When behavior is inflexible, maladaptive, and/or antisocial, then that individual is diagnosed with a personality disorder.

Instincts in NLP Plus

We are motivated by three main instincts:

  • Sexual
  • Survival
  • Social
(includes creativity, appreciation for beauty)
(includes confidence self-esteem, and perception of money and reality)
(includes perceived place in society)

All emotional displays are rooted in provoking one of these instincts.

These instincts can be seen as having corresponding analogues to the various Trinity systems found in many religions. For example, in Yin/Yang, Sexual is Creative (Yang). Social is receptive (Yin). The movement from Yang, to Yin, creates conscious identity (Change), and identity is directly related to survival.

Motivations and Weapons are always ties to an Instinct. When behavior is inflexible or maladaptive with regards to sexual behavior, social behavior, or personal protection, that person has a personality disorder. Except for chemical causes (see end of this article), the causes are almost always rooted in adolescence.

Except for the Avoidant, people with personality disorders will engage in criticizing others. While these criticisms are usually wrong, they are almost always self-referencing (projection) and so accurately describes themselves.

The DSM-IV defines a personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation 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. I don't know how practical that is in everyday life when dealing with that workplace asshole Narcissist down the hall.

Personality Disorders

Currently, there are ten distinct personality disorders identified in the DSM-IV. The following is my commentary on these ten.

  1. Antisocial Personality DisorderSometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths. Lack of regard for rules and authority. Lack of empathy for others. Low social instinct. Extremely high survival instinct. Absence of empathy. Casual attitude towards sex. Obvious  inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Very dominant behavior.
    Motivation: Personal pleasure, hurting others
    Weapons: Highly manipulative. Knows the truth, and lies about it

  2. Avoidant Personality DisorderSocially inhibited, very low self-esteem. Negative social instinct, sexually inexperienced, inability to protect oneself. Extremely sensitive to criticism. Very submissive.
    Motivation: Isolation and/or craves praise, avoidance
    Weapons: none, no personality defenses

  3. Borderline Personality Disorder: Zero self-esteem stemming from non-existent values or identity. Relationships are emotionally volatile, unstable and eventually destroyed by the BPD. No sense of self. Either sexually promiscuous or extremely sexually repressed. Manipulative, but easy to manipulate. Anyone who disagrees with them in the most insignificant way immediately becomes their enemy. More concerned with appearances than substances. Very common amongst political extremists, cult followers, strippers and Playboy™ category women. Women with BPD usually suffer from a "Daddy complex". Dominant/Submissive (Switch). more
    Motivation: Emotional satisfaction or personal pain/destruction. Aggressively seeks role models to follow.
    Weapons: Manipulative and exploitative, lies to others and oneself because they do not understand the truth themselves. Emotional blackmail - "Change your behavior or I'll feel bad and it's your fault"

  4. Dependent Personality DisorderExtremely needy. Incapable of making any personal decisions. Very high sense of empathy. Fear of separation. Low self-esteem, often sexually inexperienced. Submissive.
    Motivation: Approval and recognition. Seeks guidance and leadership.
    Weapons: None (the DPD is totally vulnerable)

  5. Histrionic Personality DisorderInappropriate emotional displays of emotional reactions, approaching theatricality, in everyday behavior. Sudden and rapidly shifting emotion expressions. Low sense of truth. Will believe anything - UFOs, conspiracies, the most extreme New Age beliefs. Desire for social approval. Submissive
    Motivation: Attention and respect
    Weapons: Lies to others and self because they have no sense of truth or what truth is

  6. Narcissistic Personality DisorderControl Freak. Constantly talks about themselves. Gets bored when others talk about anything other than them and brings the discussion around to themselves. Often talks about themselves in the third person. Extremely selfish, total lack of empathy. Not sensitive to criticism. Hypersensitive to any opinion of others, even if the opinion agrees with their own and they didn't say it first. While common amongst political conservative extremists, professional politicians on the Left and Right are often NPDs.  Competitive to the point of self-destruction. Reluctant to open up and trust, but socially uninhibited. Claims sexual experience but in reality avoids any intimacy or physical contact with others. Refuses to change behavior. Loves and demands attention. In social situations constantly talks about themselves and believes everyone is deeply fascinated with them. Addcited to the love of strangers. Often become cult leaders. Dominant. Very common in actors and politicians.
    Motivation: Needs to be admired by others, "I am the star - look at me"
    Weapons: Verbal abuse, stonewalling, misinformation, lies, sabotage

  7. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality DisorderPerfectionist. Inflexible in personal habits. Sticks to established procedures and patterns. Usually associated with other personality disorders. May display markedly undisciplined speech patterns. Often tells the truth to the point of insignificance.
    Motivation: Control of themselves and their environment
    Weapons: Extreme emotional outbursts to intimidate others. May become physically violent.

  8. Paranoid Personality DisorderExtreme distrust of others, believes others are out to get them, sees hidden and inappropriate meanings. Incapable of forgiving others and can hold a grudge forever. High survival instinct.
    Motivation: safety
    Weapons: avoidance

  9. Schizoid Personality DisorderLimited emotional range, indifferent to social relationships. I do not have enough experience with this condition to warrant an opinion.

  10. Schizotypal Personality Disorder:   Highly undisciplined thinking, beliefs not based in fact or reality, low basis for truth. Unusual dress and appearance. Extreme fantasy beliefs. I do not have enough experience with this condition to warrant an opinion.


The DSM-IV's omits forms of treatment for personality disorders. Experienced therapists have told me that someone suffering from a personality disorder is placed on constant treatment for at least two years.

Except when the cause is chemical, hypnotherapy can get someone to take control and responsibility of their lives by doing a regression to cause.

It is interesting to note that, in the USA, States that have an unusually high diagnostic rates of personality disorders (ex: Texas, California) have laws regulating the use of clinical hypnotherapy.

Note that in almost all cases, these conditions are not chemical, although there are chemical conditions that can appear to be a personality disorder. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAC) for example, can resemble BPD or other personality disorders but is in fact due to brain damage caused by alcoholism in the mother during pregnancy and is at present untreatable.

William G. Anthony, C.Ht, NLP
March 2006


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