How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Personality disorders are a set of mental conditions (not mental illnesses) in which people think, feel and behave differently from the majority of the population. As with other conditions they may range in effect from mild to severe and may combine with other conditions.
People with these conditions have limited flexibility and do not adapt well to normal social situations, although some learn strategies to make it appear as if they are in fact highly adapted. They hence may initially seem very nice, but are still likely to end up causing distress to people around them. This can lead to them being considered more as social disorders.
There are three clusters in the ten DSM-IV disorders:
When working with other people be aware of the possibility that they may be affected, even slightly, by any of the above disorders (beware also of seeing personality disorders everywhere).
Where you find a disorder, you are unlikely to be able to cure it, so work around it and remember that the person affected has less flexibility in how they behave than other people (this can also be a diagnostic clue).
Treating personality disorders is a professional matter. You may have to handle people with varying degrees of disorder but beware of thinking you can 'fix' them -- attempting this is more likely to hurt you than help them.
Persuading people with these disorders can be very variable. The key is in knowing and managing the things they crave and detest, for example the need for perfection of the obsessive-compulsive or the fear of criticism of the narcissist.