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Personality Disorders

Essay by   •  June 17, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,927 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,735 Views

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Personality is a huge characteristic part of your life. It helps shape who you are as a person and how you interact with others. According to Bradley, Conklin, and Western, our personality is a particular combination of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral response patterns of an individual (2005). Our attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and how we perceive the world are all part of our personality. People with healthy personalities are able to cope with normal stresses and have no trouble forming relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. (Bradley, Conklin, and Western, 2005).

What happens if your personality is abnormal? If so, you can be considered to have a personality disorder. Personality disorders are enduring maladaptive patterns of thought, emotion, self-regulation, goal pursuit, behavior and relatedness to others (Bradley, et al, 2005). Personality disorders are highly prevalent disorders that have important clinical ramifications. The best estimates of Bradley, et al suggest that between 10% and 15% of the US population have a personality disorder (2005). According to our textbook(put the name of the text book) there are three different groups or clusters that a personality disorder can fall into (Sue, Sue, and Sue, 2010). The three groups are Cluster A, which is characterized by odd-eccentric behavior, Cluster B, erratic behavior, and Cluster C, anxious-fearful behavior (Sue, et al, 2010).

In this paper I will mainly be focusing on Cluster B personality disorders. Becker and Lamb suggest that there are several personality disorder categories that are closely related to sex role stereotypes (1994). The disorders that are most commonly connected to having a gender gap include borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and dependent personality having an occurrence more often in women, and Antisocial personality disorder, (ASPD) being more commonly occurring in men (Skodal, Bender, 2003). Of these personality disorders, borderline personality disorder has the most empirical data (Bradley, et al, 2005). Therefore, borderline personality disorder will be my main focus. The question I plan to answer is whether or not personality disorders diagnoses are sexist? ( try to state this as a thesis and not just say it's a question you want to answer in your paper) I will first talk about the diagnoses criteria for borderline personality disorder. Then I will discuss why borderline personality disorder is more prevalent in women than men. Then, I will end with whether or not the diagnoses criteria for borderline personality disorder are sexist.

According to our textbook (write the name) , borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by "intense fluctuations in mood, self-image and interpersonal relationships." (Sue, et al, 2010, p.201). Other criteria for BPD include, lack of a stable identity, fear of abandonment, affective instability, difficulty controlling anger, and tendency to act impulsively (Skodol, Bender, 2003). As well as unstable and intense interpersonal relationships with alternating idealization and devaluation, there are a few self-damaging behaviors such as sex, spending, binge eating, and substance abuse (Bjorklund, 2006). The essential feature of BPD, according to Dr. Pamela A Bjorklund PhD, is a perverse pattern of impulsivity and instability (2006).

To be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder you must meet at least five of the nine criteria (Criteria set by whom?). Men with BPD are more likely to have an explosive temperament and higher novelty seeking than women (Sansone, Sansone, 2011). Men are also more likely to be comorbid with substance abuse disorder, while women are more likely to show signs of eating, mood, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorders (Zlotnick, Rothschild, Zimmerman, 2002). There are a higher proportion of women than men suffering from borderline personality disorder. According to Skodal and Bender, there is about a three-to-one gender ratio of women to men diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (2003). Percentage wise, approximately 70-77% of the people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are female (Bjorklund, 2006). Since there is a prevalence of women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, some researchers have proposed that there is a sex bias in the diagnosing. This has led to the discussion that personality disorder diagnoses as a whole are sexist. But why is it there is a 3-to-1 ratio in the diagnosing of borderline personality disorder?

According to the research there are six possible ways that borderline personality disorder diagnosis can reflect a possible sex bias (Skodal, Bender, 2003). These six ways according to Skodal and Bender are "1) biased sampling of persons with the disorder, 2) biased diagnostic constructs, 3) biased diagnostic criteria, 4) biased diagnostic thresholds, 5) biased application of diagnostic criteria, and 6) biased instruments of assessment."(2003, p.350) The first way, shows a sampling bias that means that women are much more likely to be in a clinical setting than men; therefore, the sample of people being diagnosed with borderline are going to be female (Bjorklund, 2003). It is a general stereotype that women are much more likely to seek help for psychological problems, while men are much more likely to end up in prison and would not be in the sample (Zlotnick, et al, 2002). Hence, a gender bias in sampling.

Biased diagnostic constructs refers to "sexist characterizations or stereotyping of women's behavior patterns as pathological."(Skodal, Bender, 2003, p.351) In simpler words, certain behaviors are labeled pathological only when they occur in women. This may lead to the gender gap in borderline personality disorder. Many researchers believe that the diagnostic criteria for borderline are biased as well. Symptoms such as unstable identity, feelings of emptiness or numbness, depersonalization, and self-mutilation (Bjorklund, 2003) are believed to be much more common in the typical woman than in men. Therefore, more women would be given a borderline diagnoses than men based on the criteria.

The fourth way biased diagnostic thresholds are very similar to biased criteria is because it also deals with symptoms. It means that certain characteristics are

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