Personality disorders stem from mental health issues and derive from abnormal psychology, commonly referred to as, psychopathology. Feelings, thoughts and behaviors expressed by those suffering from a personality disorder are usually exaggerated feelings, thoughts and behaviors expressed by all human beings (Millon & Davis, 1996). The problem arises when these thoughts, feelings and behaviors become severe maladaptive patterns that transcend into chronic conditions that cause disturbances that do not allow a human to function or relate well within society.
Moreover, these disruptive patterns cause serious detriments to relationships and other areas of life (Millon & Davis, 1996). Once thought to be a cause of mysticism and the spirit world-personality disorders and mental health issues are now known to derive from a variety of elements, which include biological, cognitive and environmental factors (Millon & Davis, 1996). This paper will discuss the biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components of anxiety, mood/affective and dissociative/somatoform personality disorders.
Biological Components Anxiety Anxiety is a normal reaction to a stressor; however, extreme anxiety that does not go away, even without the presence of a stressor can lead to an anxiety disorder. Biologically, anxiety can be attributed to genetics, the autonomic nervous system, and the limbic system (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Studies have concluded a correlation between genetics and the development of anxiety. None the less, genetics affect different anxiety disorders in dissimilar ways; some more than others and in some cases can be based on gender.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, shows genetic correlation in men only (Carlson, 2007). The limbic and autonomic nervous systems contribute to anxiety by the onset of physiological symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, and fast breathing and the flight or fight response (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Mood/Affective In regards to mood/affective disorders, biology plays a role in the following areas: hormones, neurochemicals and genetics (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Mood affective disorders abnormally affect one’s general ood and can develop into chronic mood disorders, such as depression or mania. Depression is linked to hereditary factors through the 5-HTT gene, also known as the mood gene (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Moreover, individuals can become predisposed to depression due to affected brain structures associated with mood regulation. An imbalance of neurochemicals, such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, is also associated with mood disorders. Hormones play a role insofar high levels of cortisal in one’s blood in linked to depression (Hansell & Damour, 2008).
Dissociative/Somatoform. Dissociative disorders involve a breakdown of the normal integration of personality, whereas, in somatoform disorders, psychological problems take physiological forms. Biological components of these disorders involve the use of drugs that can cause chemical changes within the brain, which can result in the onset of these disorders. Moreover, the mental disorder schizophrenia also indicates biological components related to brain function and structure abnormalities, including neuropsychological and neurophysiologic disturbances (Carlson, 2007).
Emotional Components. Anxiety The emotional component of anxiety disorders involves feelings associated with anxiety such as fear, dread, and panic (Carlson, 2007). Placing individuals in situations that make them feel general anxiousness cause certain feelings that may lead to an anxiety disorder. Furthermore, the emotional component of anxiety works together with other factors to contribute to the development of different disorders within the realm of anxiety (Carlson, 2007). Mood/Affective Similar to anxiety disorders, the emotional components of mood/affective disorders involve feelings.
For example in the disorder of depression, sadness and melancholy are often found. This melancholy is similar to forms of grieving insofar the feeling of loss is evident, dissimilar insofar in the depressed individual the type of loss is not clear nor present (Hansell & Damour, 2008). In other disorders, such as mania, emotions and feelings are erratic and exciting. Bipolar disorder can cause one to feel lifted and excited during manic episodes and sad and miserable during depressive states (Carlson, 2007). Dissociative/Somatoform
Feelings are a common thread when discussing the emotional components of the psychological disorders the paper has addressed thus far. In regards to dissociative disorders, such as multiple personality disorder-feelings and emotions can be very different depending on the personality taking over one’s person (Carlson, 2007). Moreover, the somatoform disorder hypochondria may illicit emotional responses due to symptoms of physical illness even though no physical illness is present (Carlson, 2007). Cognitive Components Anxiety Perception and cognition are vital components to the onset of anxiety and anxiety disorders.
Perception affects anxiety in different ways. Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder are infatuated with threats their perception regards as real and dangerous and often exaggerate in extremity of the perceived threat. Furthermore, they feel helpless against the threat (Millon & Davis, 1996). Maladaptive beliefs and thoughts manifest into the mind of those of are inflicted with anxiety disorders, causing them to form dysfunctional cognitive schemas (adverse thought patterns) that affect their quality of life (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Mood/Affective Cognitive factors are the most persuasive in explaining mood/affective disorders.
The work of cognitive theorist Aaron Beck has shed light into this realm. According to Beck, most of the patients suffering from depression he surveyed had the same underlying cognitive patterns that influenced their depression (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Furthermore, he attributed these patterns in thoughts to negative cognitive triad which casted negative cognitive patterns in relation to one’s self, one’s world and one’s future. Negative cognitive triads can manifest themselves into pessimistic explanations of events, and illicit automatic negative thoughts due to cognitive distortions (Hansell & Damour, 2008).
Dissociative/Somatoform In regards to dissociative disorders, the self-hypnosis theory holds that individuals put themselves into trance like state where they are able to hide hidden pains by dissociating themselves from them (Millon & Davis, 1996). Recent research is attributing dissociative disorders to the divergence of memory and attention functions. Somatoform disorders see a convergence of cognitive-behavioral components in their development. It is seen as an expression of emotional distress that is manifested through physical symptoms (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Behavioral Components Anxiety
Anxiety has behavioral components insofar classic conditioning and operant conditioning can all influence the onset of anxiety disorders. Through classic conditioning the environment plays a role in teaching one behaviors. Being conditioned to feel feelings associated with anxiety may cause phobias that may lead one to develop and anxiety disorder (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Operant conditioning is involved through avoidance behavior. What one has a phobia over, they tend to avoid further driving their anxiety towards the subject, thus negatively reinforcing the behavior (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Mood/Affective
According to B. F. Skinner, behaviorism can be used to explain aspects of mood/affective disorder, particularly in depression. Skinner believed depression was a result of one’s interpretation of the reinforcements they have experienced in life through environmental settings Moreover, his thoughts have been modified and enhanced to include aspects of the decreased effect of reinforcements and excessive punishments, which are also thought to bring about changes in mood Leading theorists today hold the belief that mood affective disorders must take a cognitive-behavioral stance to be best understood (Gazzaniga, 2010).
Dissociative/Somatoform Leading cognitive-behavioral theorist emphasize the relationship between the mind and the environment. In regards to somatoform disorders, the link is evident when emotional distress manifests themselves into physical symptoms because of the involvement of somatization, conversion and emotional distress; which is a result of behavioral and cognitive process (Gazzaniga, 2010). Examples of this are internalized feelings a child may hold by witnessing their parents expressing their emotional pain through physical symptoms; which can result in the child experiencing somatic symptoms as well.
In regards to dissociative disorders, operant conditioning is essential to their development because behaviors that are punished are avoided or removed (Hansell & Damour, 2008). When faced with trauma or severe pain it is possible for one to remove him or herself mentally, although not physically, from the situation, thus enabling dissociation through the practice of operant conditioning (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Conclusion
The components of the onset and development of personality disorders are just as multifaceted as the disorders themselves. Biological, emotional, cognitive and behavioral factors come together to form such disorders and having an concise understanding of these four domains renders effective treatments that can help an individual inflicted with a personality disorder alleviate if not completely overcome their psychological aliments.
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