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Fundamentals of Abnormal Psychology: Personality Disorder Essay

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

Antisocial personality disorder (ASP) has been linked to a history of child abuse. The DSM-IV-TR criteria lay out seven symptoms that indicate presence of antisocial personality disorder (APA, 2000). First, an individual will not conform to social norms. As a result of this, such a person is likely to break the law and get arrested. If a parent abuses a child, then the parent is basically breaking the rules.

He or she then teaches his child to do the same, and this may develop into ASP. Secondly, the individual tends to be deceitful. He or she may lie severally or may take it to the extreme by conning others off their money. Someone with a history of child abuse may have learnt from his or her parents that self gratification is all that counts.

Therefore, if one has to lie in order to achieve what one wants then one will go ahead and do so. Impulsivity is yet another key trait in the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. This kind of person fails to think about the consequences of his or her actions. If a person has a history of child abuse, then he or she may enter adulthood with emotional injuries.

Such a person has no strong bonds with others and thus ends up being self absorbed. He will act impulsively as a result of this emotional disconnect. Fourth, the person tends to be highly aggressive and irritable. He or she may get into fights easily and frequently. A patient with a history of child abuse tends to learn violent behavior from the abusive parent.

Eventually the person manifests the same negative behavior that had been experienced as a child. Fifth, there could be minimal regard for safety. Exposure to violence as a child may lead one to adopt a very high level of risk tolerance that may manifest as recklessness and disregard for safety (APA, 2004). Sixth, someone with the disorder tends to act irresponsibility.

He or she many not honor work obligations and can act inconsistently about such important matters. Child abuse often sends the message that rules are unimportant. A child who is subjected to these emotions may end up carrying forward these sentiments into his or her adult life. Seven, the person may feel no regret for mistreating or hurting other people.

One may rationalize social unacceptable behavior at every turn. Child abuse often leads to low emotional attachment between parents and the abused child. In adult life, such an individual will not form emotional attachments with other people and may not empathize with them if he or she hurts them.

Borderline personality disorder is associated with a history of abandonment or severe neglect. The Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders forth edition has nine symptoms that indicate presence of borderline personality disorder (APA, 2000). The first criterion is prevalence of abandonment avoidance. Sometimes the abandonment may be real or imagined.

It comes as a no surprise that a person with a history of childhood neglect would develop abandonment avoidance. He or she may be terrified of occurrence of the same condition in adulthood and will therefore avoid it as much as possible. Second, one is likely to have intense interpersonal relationships, which also happen to be unstable.

A person who went through severe neglect as a child is likely to think of relationships as possible causes of neglect in their adult life. Therefore, most of them tend to overindulge in a relationship and then withdraw after realization that the relationship maybe a threat to their psychological well being. Third, identity disturbance through an unstable sense of self can also be another indicator.

A neglected child will grow up without a sense of identity as he or she will lack family role models that he or she can identify with. Consequently, such children end up becoming confused about their sense of self. Fourth, such people have a tendency to be impulsive, or to engage in self damaging behavior. Anorexia, binge eating and promiscuity are some of the examples in this criterion.

As children continue to be neglected, most of them develop a negative self image that convinces them that they are essentially bad people. This leads to self hatred and destructive thoughts in adulthood (Weaver & Clum, 1993). Fifth, suicidal behavior can be manifested through self injury, threats and other gestures.

As the low self image continues to intensify, an adult who experienced severe abandonment tends to believe that he or she is genuinely terrible. Eventually, self-hatred maybe so intense that it could lead to suicidal attempts. Sixth, there could be demonstration of affective instability through irritability, anxiety or dysphoria. This is brought on by mood reactivity.

A neglected child will often develop cognitive errors in thinking, partly because no one is there to guide him or her, and also because of a lack of authority figures. Eventually, such a person may overanalyze situations and worry unnecessarily about events and experiences. These often manifest as anxiety and dysphoria in adulthood (Zanarini et. al, 2000). The seventh criterion is heightened feelings of emptiness.

This comes about because of the low self image that was created from a neglected childhood. Eighth, patients are likely to manifest inappropriate anger and may get into physical fights. Normally, abandoned or neglected children will be fearful about stressful experiences.

They will maintain that fear well into their adulthood. In order to cope with those stresses, some borderline personalities will result to aversive behavior like fights. Ninth, a person may be delusive, paranoid (owing to stress) and may also display other dissociative symptoms. An adult who was abandoned as a child may develop an unhealthy fear of neglect and association. It may spiral out of control by developing into paranoia.

Avoidant personality disorder is linked to a history of ridicule and abuse. The DSM-IV-TR criteria for avoidant disorder encapsulate seven symptoms (APA, 2000). First, a person with the disorder tends to avoid a lot of interpersonal contact. Some of them may even turn down jobs in order to achieve this.

If a person had a history of ridicule and humiliation as a child, he or she may develop an excessive fear of the same in adulthood and will go through great lengths to avoid ridicule. The second symptom is reluctance to engage in social activities. If a child had been humiliated repeatedly by his family then that person often develops a sense of distrust of others.

This distrust often continues into adulthood and will manifest as reluctance towards engagement in social activities. Third, a person often fears ridicule and shame in close relationships. As a child, if a person had been severely humiliated, then he or she may become extremely sensitive to cues that denote rejection (Comer, 1996). This is the reason why some of them will tend to flee from those situations.

The fourth criterion is preoccupation with rejection and criticism. The individual will think that situations which lead to rejection and criticism are dangerous and will spend a lot of time avoiding them. Once a child goes through excessive humiliation and ridicule, then chances are that these experiences will grow into unhealthy fears in adulthood.

Fifth, a person is likely to become excessively inhibited in social gatherings that he or she is unfamiliar with. Having a history of childhood ridicule often prompts individuals to feel inadequate. They begin to think of all those areas that will put them through the same level of ridicule, and new acquaintances in meetings usually seem like a dangerous source. Sixth, the person feels that he or she is socially inept.

Having a history of childhood ridicule and humiliation convinces the person that social interactions will create the same level of ridicule and this causes him or her to avoid new social contacts as much as possible. Seventh, the individual will go through great lengths in order to minimize social risks.

If one happens to be in a school dance, one would prefer sitting in a corner rather than risk humiliation by going to the dance floor. When a child is exposed to excessive ridicule, he or she may become hyper sensitive to rejection and embarrassment. As the person grows into an adult he or she tends to look for scenarios that will reduce rejection as seen through social risk avoidance.

References

American Psychiatric association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 4th Edition. Washington DC: APA

American psychiatric association (2004). Antisocial personality disorder. When is it treatable? Psychiatric News, 2 January 2004, 25

Comer, R. (1996). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology. Avoidant personality disorder. NY: Wort

Weaver, T. & Clum, G. (1993). Early family environments and traumatic experiences associated with borderline personality disorder. Consulting and clinical psychology, 61(6), 1068-1075

Zanarini, M., Frankenburg, F. & Reich, D. (2000). Biparental failure in the childhood experiences of borderline patients. Personality disorder, 14(3), 264-273

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