What is the Connection Between Behavior and Personality Disorder?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
People with narcissism feel a strong desire to be praised and admired.
People with narcissism feel a strong desire to be praised and admired.

The many types of personality disorders make it difficult to define a single connection between behavior and personality disorder. Additionally, people with disorders like borderline, narcissistic, and schizoid may be assessed on the basis of function. Higher functioning patients have fewer destructive behaviors. Nevertheless, a few classic behaviors may be associated with each disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is often marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.
Borderline personality disorder is often marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.

Expected behavior and personality disorder connections occur with borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD tend to have high levels of impulsivity, which may include quick changes in mood from affectionate or happy to deeply angry. Degree of functioning and amount of therapeutic work often dictate how well someone with BPD is able to control sudden mood shifts. Other behaviors that are expected of this disorder type include self-injurious or suicidal tendencies, involvement in relationships that are unstable, greater risk for addiction, strongly anxious reactions, and tendency to view things in black and white, instead of in nuanced ways.

Behavior and personality disorder in narcissism is an easy contrast to BPD. Some expected actions include constantly seeking praise, having little empathy, acting in arrogant or discriminatory ways toward others, using others to achieve certain ends, expressing a relatively constant sense of personal importance (grandiosity), and being unwilling to admit errors. In particular, the sense of self-importance and lack of interest in anyone else are two of the most commonly recognized behavior features.

While people with borderline personality and narcissism are often prominent and expressive in the public setting, connection between behavior and personality disorder in the schizoid type is much different. Some people with schizoid personality disorder appear to live in their own world and are extremely removed if they associate with others. They may have few relationships, may not seem to care what others think and feel, often come across as indifferent or cold, and tend to be removed or withdrawn. Though this can vary, many people who are schizoid don’t have romantic relationships and may not have friends outside of their family setting.

It’s important to note that behavior and personality disorder are not hidden feeling and personality disorder. In all cases, these disorders make it extremely difficult for people to have or acknowledge feelings. Yet, scratch the surface of someone with borderline disorder and what is found is a tremendous fear of abandonment. The average narcissist is dying of shame and self-criticism, and the schizoid is terrified of his alone state.

What is clear about behavior and personality disorder is that behaviors are in opposition to underlying feelings, which most people with these disorders have difficulty acknowledging or tolerating. People with BPD drive others to abandon them. The narcissist can’t escape his negative self-opinion and his uncaring behavior to others may mean others judge him just as harshly. The schizoid’s remove keeps people at a distance, while he aches inside from loneliness. This is the heartbreak of these disorders, and successful treatment works to eliminate the defensive and destructive behaviors that are constant obstructions to deep-felt, and typically unacknowledged, needs.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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    • People with narcissism feel a strong desire to be praised and admired.
      People with narcissism feel a strong desire to be praised and admired.
    • Borderline personality disorder is often marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.
      Borderline personality disorder is often marked by wild mood swings and impulsive, risky behavior.