Early years and personality disorders

The early years of our life are so important in how we learn to develop, function and grow as an individual and navigate and learn to relate to others. These formative years help to formulate our learning and to trust in the self and others.

Factors such as our genetics and the reliance at a very young age on our environment and the people around us also plays a significant role in this development.

We may experience our environment and those around us as one that is safe and secure, even loving. Or it may feel chaotic and dangerous and that love is not recognisable to us.

Many are fortunate to have at least ‘a good enough’ start to early life which facilitates a stable developmental understanding of self, others and the world around them.

A path is paved forward that is understandable and enables trust to develop in the ability to cope with the stresses of life, to engage in secure relationships and function in a way that isn’t troublesome to the individual or those around them.

For many this is not the case and a personality disorder can often form from the interplay of an individual’s genetics an environment which never feels secure or trusting and where interactions with others may be more damaging than nurturing. All these factors can disrupt or disturb early development.

The DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual) has identified 10 personality disorders which are arranged in three separate clusters and present as complex in nature. Common traits identified and associated with personality disorders are identifiable in how individuals think and feel about themselves and others, and how significantly this affects how the individual functions in varying aspects of their life.

Common symptoms of a personality disorder involve patterns of behaviour that make it consistently difficult for the individual to maintain relationships, the individual may be impulsive in their behaviour, feel their emotional response is inappropriate to the situation and that they may feel their thinking is distorted compared to those around them.

All of this can feel very overwhelming and finding the right help can also be a daunting prospect.

Understanding this area of work and supporting an individual’s process of thinking and offering a non-judgemental approach, will in turn offer the individual hope that their world can be understood and that there is the possibility of change. Should you need support, contact a counsellor in your local area.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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