Can a personality disorder be cured? (7 methods)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “Can a personality disorder be cured?” and explore the various dimensions of personality disorders that will help understand the answer. 

Can a personality disorder be cured?

No, a personality disorder cannot be cured. The majority of personality disorders are persistent and untreatable, and they are extremely difficult to overcome. Treatment, on the other hand, can help alleviate some of the distressing symptoms associated with a variety of personality disorders. The method of treatment depends on the disease.

The following are 7 treatment methods that can help manage personality disorders –

  • Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT).
  • Mentalization-Based Treatment.
  • Schema Therapy.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy.
  • Behavioural Therapy.
  • Social Skills Training.
  • Medication.

These 7 treatment methods for personality disorders will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at personality and personality disorders. 

What is Personality?

Individual variances in thinking, feeling, and acting patterns are referred to as personality. Understanding individual variances in certain personality qualities, such as friendliness or irritability, is one of the main goals of personality research. 

The other is comprehending how a person’s diverse pieces come together as a whole. The word personality comes from the Latin word persona, which refers to a theatrical mask worn by actors to present multiple parts or conceal their true identity.

At its most fundamental level, personality refers to a person’s distinctive patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Personality is said to emerge from within an individual and to be pretty consistent throughout life.

While there are several definitions of personality, the majority of them focus on a pattern of actions and features that may be used to predict and explain a person’s behaviour.

Personality may be explained through a range of factors, ranging from genetic explanations for personality traits to the impact of environment and experience in creating an individual’s personality.

Characteristics of Personality.

The following core personality qualities, as well as traits and patterns of thinking and emotion, have a crucial role –

  • Behaviours have an identifiable order and regularity to them. People, in general, behave in the same or similar ways in a range of settings.
  • Personality is a psychological construct, but research reveals that biological processes and requirements can impact it.
  • Personality impacts not just how we move and respond in our surroundings, but it also drives us to behave in specific ways.
  • Personality is expressed in a variety of ways, not simply via conduct. It shows up in our thoughts, feelings, personal relationships, and other social interactions as well.

What are personality disorders?

Unhealthy thought and behaviour patterns are the basis of personality disorders. People with personality disorders, whether narcissistic, avoidant, or obsessive-compulsive, have a difficult time functioning in their daily lives. 

While there is no cure for mental illness per se (there seldom is), there are effective therapies available for people who are affected.

In her book, The Therapist’s Ultimate Solution Book, Judith Belmont, a qualified professional counsellor, addresses the issue of treating personality disorders. “Personality disorders are hard to treat, as psychological disturbance is woven into the fabric of one’s personality. 

It provides a backdrop for discrete mental health problems like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.,” she says. They are, however, not insurmountable. Belmont explains how people with personality disorders might learn to survive in treatment through her writing in The Therapist’s Ultimate Solution Book.

While there is no cure for personality disorders, there are effective treatment options available, such as counselling, for people who suffer from them.

These clients are sometimes referred to as “change-resistant,” since they have a hard time making adjustments, even when they would benefit them. Even if third-wave treatment is required, therapists can still assist these clients in making the necessary changes to live a happier, healthier life.

Acceptance and thankfulness are two key components of third-wave treatment; techniques based on acceptance and appreciation help people comprehend and accept pain in their lives.

Additionally, cognitive defusion and metaphors assist people with personality disorders in being more conscious of their thoughts and feelings, and so adopting healthier behaviours.

A personality disorder is a deeply rooted, maladaptive pattern of conduct that often begins in adolescence and persists into adulthood, causing emotional distress and interpersonal problems. 

Personality disorders are thought to be caused by a mix of genetics and early events, particularly parental abuse and neglect.

Personality disorders have long been thought to be difficult to cure by the general public and mental health specialists because they are so deeply rooted in heredity and upbringing. Some are thought to be more curable than others. Furthermore, different methods of treatment are more effective for certain illnesses.

The four personality disorders of Cluster B, Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Histrionic, have been deemed the most difficult to treat among the 10 personality disorders identified in the DSM-5.

In recent years, extensive research has been published that contributes to our understanding of borderline and narcissistic personality disorders in particular. They’ve been discovered to be significantly more treatment-responsive than previously thought.

For example, a 2014 research by Jorgensen et al. found that 18 months following therapy, 75% of borderline individuals demonstrated significant improvements in their borderline symptoms.

The types of treatment that are most commonly used for each personality disorder are as follows –

  • Borderline: Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT); Mentalization-Based Treatment
  • Antisocial: Schema Therapy
  • Narcissistic: Psychodynamic; Schema Therapy
  • Histrionic: Psychodynamic
  • Schizotypal, Schizoid, Paranoid: Medication; Social Skills Training
  • Avoidant, Obsessive-Compulsive, Dependent: Behavioral; Social Skills Training; Psychodynamic; Medication

What are these 7 treatment methods for personality disorders?

Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT).

DBT is a cognitive-behavioural therapy that aims to improve the patient’s capacity to regulate his powerful emotions and behaviours. Individual lessons are usually held once a week, complemented or followed by group sessions. Mindfulness, interpersonal skills, discomfort tolerance, and emotion management are all emphasised. 

For persons with Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT is the best clinically validated therapy strategy. It is also one of the most cost-effective therapy strategies since it targets symptoms directly and may be done in a group setting. It can also be less time-consuming than many other sorts of treatments.

Mentalization-Based Treatment.

This is a type of psychodynamic treatment in which the patient is taught to “mentalize,” or picture/imagine how others are feeling in reaction to her conduct and in general. 

It is less prescriptive than DBT and places a greater emphasis on the therapist-patient interaction. Because it is relationship-based and personalised, it might take a little longer and cost a little more than DBT.

Schema Therapy.

Schema Therapy combines approaches from four different types of well-established, tried-and-true therapies. The treatment’s purpose is to question the patient’s maladaptive “schemas,” or beliefs/feelings, that he or she developed as a kid. 

The therapist is effectively re-parenting the patient as part of this process. Schema Therapy takes longer, but it affects the patient on a deeper level. According to research, it may be more expensive, but it is still cost-efficient because it is so effective.

Psychodynamic Therapy.

This tried-and-true treatment is usually done one-on-one. Its goal is to assist the patient in discovering how her childhood influences her current life. 

The therapist-patient connection is utilised to assist the patient in understanding how her emotions, feelings, and actions influence others. Psychodynamic treatment is often more costly since it lasts longer.

Behavioural Therapy.

This is a rather specific therapy. It is usually applied to a single symptom that is the treatment’s emphasis. It works best when applied to a specific behaviour that a patient is seeking to cease, especially if the habit is caused by worry. 

As a result, it may be particularly useful in the treatment of anxiety-related personality disorders. It is one of the quickest and most cost-effective therapies since it is focused and specialised. However, it only addresses symptoms and does not address the fundamental psychological structure.

Social Skills Training.

Some personality disorders, particularly those involving psychosis, make it difficult for the patient to understand and read the behaviours and feelings of others and respond properly. 

Direct instruction in this area is typically beneficial for those with schizoid, schizotypal, and paranoid personality disorders. Group training for social skills is common. It is extremely cost-effective and can sometimes be rather brief because it is a targeted, instructional, group therapy.

Medication.

In the treatment of personality disorders, medication is a touchy subject. This is due to the fact that it does not treat the underlying condition. It can, however, be critical in lowering symptoms like anxiety, sadness, or psychosis so that treatment is more successful. 

Medication, when used correctly, may be a valuable tool in the treatment of all types of Personality Disorders.

There is no one-size-fits-all therapy. However, one thing that must be present in order for someone with a personality disorder to benefit from treatment is a genuine desire to change.

Conclusion – 

This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Can a personality disorder be cured?” and reviewed the various dimensions of personality disorders to help determine if a personality disorder can be cured. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Personality Disorders. Cleveland Clinic. (2018, February 2). Retrieved from  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9636-personality-disorders-overview#:~:text=Most%20personality%20disorders%20are%20constant,the%20main%20form%20of%20treatment.

Personality Disorder Treatment Program Options. PsychGuides.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.psychguides.com/mental-health-disorders/personality/treatment/

Mayo Clinic Staff. Personality disorders. (2016, September 23). Retrieved from  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354468

Salters-Pedneault, K. Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment, Recovery, and Remission. (2021, July 01). Retrieved from  https://www.verywellmind.com/is-there-a-cure-for-borderline-personality-disorder-425468

DINGFELDER, S.F. Treatment for the ‘untreatable’. (2004, March). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from  https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar04/treatment

Help for personality disorders. American Psychological Association. (2010). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/personality-disorders/help

Bennett, T. Why personality disorders are difficult to treat: Is there a cure? (2018, December 7). Retrieved from  https://thriveworks.com/blog/personality-disorders-difficult-treat-cure/

Can BPD Be Cured? Bridges to Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/borderline-personality-disorder/can-bpd-be-cured/

Rubin, E. Do Personality Disorders Ever “Go Away?”. Psychology Today. (2011, April 22). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/demystifying-psychiatry/201104/do-personality-disorders-ever-go-away

Carey, E. Personality Disorder. (2021, July 26). Retrieved from  https://www.healthline.com/health/personality-disorders

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