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It used to be thought, for instance, that people with a personality disorder had one for life, and there was little that could be done to help.
Research has now shown that people do get better and their symptoms can improve — with the right treatment.
This may mean an abusive or traumatic upbringing but could also include being brought up in a chaotic or unstable family home, with parents going through an acrimonious divorce, who were heavy drinkers or who didn’t provide adequate support, love or attention.
Because personality is a complex thing, it’s not always easy to say for sure when someone has a disorder.
As a result, they can sometimes be misdiagnosed as depression or bipolar disorder because they appear to share some symptoms.
People with histrionic personality disorder, for example, are often great fun: the perfect ‘party person’.
Unlike bipolar disorder or postnatal depression, people don’t seem to want to admit to having this condition — you won’t see them going on fun‑runs for it or talking about their experiences on morning TV.
That’s because for this condition, the stigma is still very much alive and kicking.
In this first part of a new series, I set out to demystify this hidden yet extremely common problem — and hopefully provide some of the answers to help you cope with it.
To understand what a personality disorder is, we first have to get to grips with what personality is — trickier than you might think, as how we behave towards people can differ from one situation to another.Similarly, many celebrities have narcissistic personality traits.