Extra Help for Disorders of the Self
People who depend on others to feel important or cared about may focus on controlling their loved ones rather than changing themselves. The methods they use to avoid painful feelings (substance abuse, lashing out, or clinging) create considerable distress for people in their lives. Friends and relatives may need to be the first ones to change before people with self-defeating behavior can begin to alter well-entrenched patterns. Mark any strategies below that you would be willing to make to plant seeds for new growth.
If you have come to a point in your life where you’ve decided you need to change self-defeating habits, bravo! Choose family members and friends as coaches who can be honest, firm, and sympathetic with you. Don’t look for people who will give you the answers you want to hear. Feedback that makes you feel bad may be accurate. Learn to stay with those emotions long enough to comfort the wounded child within you who has difficulty being self-supporting, admitting mistakes, or connecting with others. Give others’ ideas full consideration before you reject them. As you identify your patterns, let others know how they can help—“Give me a signal if I talk too long.”
NATIONAL NETWORKS, SUPPORT GROUPS, AND OTHER RESOURCES
There are few nationwide organizations or networks devoted to specific personality disorders. However, many12-step groups deal with self- defeating behaviors people with these problems have. Listings of local meetings can be found in your community newspaper. Web sites and books can offer additional assistance, for example:
Counseling is very important when personality traits interfere with work or relationships. Often, family members will seek help for people with disorders. Until the late 1990s, the prevailing belief was that treatment of personality disorders took years. When different theoretical orientations and treatment modalities (individual, family, group therapy, and support groups) are combined, significant improvement may be seen in less than a year. Psychopharmacology is the newest addition to the treatment mix. Drugs can moderate underlying temperaments to help people make gains from other forms of treatment. However, the reality needs to be faced that low-functioning personality disorders and defiant, guarded, and inflated people in particular may not be able to benefit from any form of help.