Be Mindful of People with Personality Disorders

Why should we be mindful of people with personality disorders? MIND (www.mind.org.uk) suggested that about 10 per cent of the general population have a personality disorder. It also mentioned that “A diagnosis of personality disorder doesn’t stop someone being likeable, intelligent, highly motivated or creative.” What this means is that these behaviours can be difficult to detect when first meeting some, such as at a job interview or a person’s first week or month at work. This is particularly true for the most of us who are not aware of the symptoms and who are not trained to recognize and differentiate them.

Personality disorders are not mental illness (mental disorder), personality changes, post trauma symptoms, changes due to life changing experiences.

U.S. National Library of Medicine website (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) describes personality disorders as “A group of mental health conditions in which a person has a long-term pattern of behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that is very different from his or her culture’s expectations. These behaviors interfere with the person’s ability to function in relationships, work, or other settings.”

 

Mental Health America website (www.mentalhealthamerica.com) wrote that “Those who struggle with a personality disorder have great difficulty dealing with other people. They tend to be inflexible, rigid, and unable to respond to the changes and demands of life. Although they feel that their behavior patterns are “normal” or “right,” people with personality disorders tend to have a narrow view of the world and find it difficult to participate in social activities.”

The British Journal of Psychiatry (www.bjp.rcpsyh.org) wrote that “Personality disorders are described in the International Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (ICD-10) as ‘deeply ingrained and enduring behaviour patterns, manifesting themselves as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations’; they represent ‘either extreme or significant deviations from the way the average individual in a given culture perceives, thinks, feels, and particularly relates to others’ (World Health Organization, 1992a).”

In summary “Those affected with such disorders have abnormal personality and behavioral patterns that clash with the social norms and expectations. They find it difficult to deal with people and form healthy relationships. Such people are rigid in their thinking pattern and behavior, thereby leading to problems whenever they interact with people.” (www.buzzle.com)

For the HR professional who is responsible for recruitment, staff disciplines and grievances, the priority is reduce the risks of recruiting people with personality disorders into management positions, where they have the opportunity to abuse their positional authorities (power) and negatively affect the morale and livelihoods of staff reporting to them. It has been recognized that people with personality disorders are high-conflict people (HCPs). They have a pattern of high-conflict behavior that increases conflict rather than reducing or resolving it (www.highconflictinstitute.com).

One alternative to deal with the problem is to conduct half yearly employee feedback on managers and to have policy in place to redeploy managers with personality disorders to a non-managerial position. If that is difficult because people in powerful positions resist their implementations, consider embedding it in the annual employee engagement survey and in the employee exit interview form.

Another alternate way to deal with the problem includes drafting a policy on managerial and supervisory conduct. Avoid trying to deal with such people on your own. HR professionals are not trained nor equipped to counsel or treat persons with personality disorders.

Below are some classifications of personality disorders.

Classifications Used By U.S. Psychiatrists
Cluster A: Odd or eccentric behavior Cluster B: Dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior Cluster C: Anxious fearful behavior
Schizoid Personality Disorder Antisocial Personality Disorder Avoidant Personality Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Dependent Personality Disorder
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Narcissistic Personality Disorder Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

 

Classifications Used By U.K. Psychiatrists
Cluster A: Suspicious Cluster 2:Emotional and  impulsive Cluster 3:Anxious
Paranoid Borderline Avoidant
Schizoid Histrionic Dependent
Schizotypal Narcissistic Obsessive  compulsive
Antisocial

 

We often heard the term “Narcissistic Boss”, “Borderline Boss”. These are terms referring to bosses exhibiting these personality disorders. There is a connection between personality disorders and workplace bullying. If you want to know more, please visit websites such as http://www.bullyonline.org; www.ncda.org, www.workplacebullying.org, www.noworkplacebullies.com.

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