Top 10 Myths about Personality Disorders

There are a number of myths about Personality Disorders. Here are some of the most common:

Myth: People with a Mental Illness all have a low IQ - this myth perpetuates the prejudice and associated stigma that people with a mental illness are "stupid". This stigma can discourage a person from admitting that they have a problem, getting the help they need or taking medication.

Fact: Personality Disorders affect the Entire Intelligence Spectrum. Here at Out of the FOG, we speak about low-functioning and high-functioning people in an attempt to differentiate between those who demonstrate high IQ and low IQ. We have seen examples of people with severe cases of personality disorders who are extremely intelligent, hold down jobs with high levels of responsibility or authority in government and in business and social groups.

Myth: Only Females have HPD and BPD - Only Males have NPD and APD.

Fact: BPD and HPD are more commonly diagnosed in women, and NPD and APD are more commonly diagnosed in men - but there are millions of people from both genders in all of the disorder categories.

Myth: All People with Personality Disorders were abused as children

Fact: About 75% of people with Personality Disorders were physically, emotionally or sexually abused as children. That leaves a huge number - about 1 in 4 - that were not.

Myth: People everywhere are basically the same.

Fact: Each person's thinking is as unique as the DNA inside them. - You can't interpret the thoughts and behaviors of a personality disordered individual based on your own logic or based upon what you would have to be thinking in order to act that way.

Myth: Personality Disorders aren't Real Mental Illnesses

Fact: Personality Disorders have been scientifically linked to observable neurological differences and we disregard them at our own peril.

Myth: People with personality disorders are basically just selfish.

Fact: Personality Disorders have been shown in some studies to be rooted in neurological differences in the way different regions of the brain communicate with each other.

Myth: People with personality disorders can get better if they just try harder.

Fact: Although management of symptoms is possible through a combination of medications, therapy and personal work, they can't make the disorder disappear altogether. Personality disorders are mental illnesses based on neurological differences for which there is no known cure.

Note that we are not suggesting here that people with personality disorders shouldn't be held accountable for their own behaviors - they absolutely should. But it would also be a mistake to regard people who suffer from personality disorders simply as mentally healthy people who are being selfish

Myth: People With Personality Disorders Never Get Better

Fact: A number of studies have shown that while there are no outright cures for personality disorders, many symptoms can be effectively managed through combinations of medications, therapy and hard work.

Myth: People With Personality Disorders get better as they get older.

Fact: Some Do and some Don't. See our section on Personality Disorder Recovery

Myth: You can bring about recovery in a person with a personality disorder through your own actions.

Fact: Personality Disorders are Real Mental Illnesses - and they don't depend on what we do, or don't do, or say, or don't say. You can't cure a personality disorder with love, anger, submission or ultimatums any more than you can cure a food allergy with a feather duster.

Myth: All People with Borderline Personality Disorder are Suicidal or commit acts of self injury

Fact: Self Injury is only one of 9 possible criteria. 5 of the 9 are required for a diagnosis of BPD. - See BPD DSM Criteria

Find some Common Myths about Domestic Abuse at