RESEARCH by professor Fredrick Hickling, lecturer at the University of the West Indies and clinical psychologist Vanessa Paisley, suggests that nearly a million adult Jamaicans suffer from personality disorders (PDs). This means many of us are with partners who may be considered unstable! A personality disorder is said to exist when the way in which an individual consistently perceives, relates to and thinks about him/herself and the world around him/her is so rigid and out of sync with others that it causes great difficulty in forming and sustaining relationships and coping with the normal stresses of daily living.
Hickling and Paisley believe the findings could explain the behavioural dysfunction problems in the Jamaican population, including psychosexual problems such as multiple sexual partners, sexual dysfunction and abnormal sexual practices.
Clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell explained that there are many different types of personality disorders -- like paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. However, whatever the type -- they have one thing in common.
"All personality disorders have different presentations but they all affect persons' interpersonal and occupational functioning," Dr Bell explained. "So it will affect their relationships with others, making it very difficult [for the person with PD] to get along with others."
Ann, who asked that her last name not be used, said she was convinced, and tried to explain to relatives that her now ex husband who she was with for 10 years was a 'schizo' (schizotypal personality disorder).
"He had a split personality. He was delusional. He went from one extreme to the next," Ann said.
She explained that her ex, who is in the security forces, was always complaining about being followed and being watched, and believed that everyone he came into contact with was part of a plot to kill him.
"It was very serious. If you were walking on the road with him he was always walking briskly and looking over his shoulder," she said. "At one point I even started believing him because he was so certain. He would not leave the house unless he was going to work and even there he would tell you stories of how his colleagues were plotting with his supervisors to get rid of him."
Ann said her husband would sometimes just sit and stare at her for lengths of time without uttering a word -- wearing a bright smile on his face, to the point where it made her uncomfortable.
"He was the type who would make big plans today and tomorrow he changes his mind," she explained. "As a result we never achieved anything together in 10 years. To top it off, he would constantly tell me how much he loved me yet he was very abusive physically. Sometimes he would literally cry when I told him I didn't believe he loved me."
She said he disappeared on three occasions with the first incident causing an alarm; the second having the police putting out an alert on the airways; and the third left her nonchalant. When he finally turned up, on all occasions he complained of being stressed and having gone away to 'chill out'. The couple broke up five years ago. Today, Ann said he has been in and out of relationships where he either accuses the women of being lesbians or working obeah, thus forcing their relationships to fall apart.
Claudette H too said the behaviour of her ex-boyfriend, whom she was with for almost three years, often left her pitying him and trying to get him to a counsellor.
"He could not commit," she said. "He would just disappear for weeks without saying anything to me. There would be no phone calls or contact made. Then he would just turn up smiling and acting as if he never left."
Claudette said despite being in a steady relationship, he continued to sleep with many women, and told her openly about the liaisons.
Dr Bell said ways in which one can identify whether their spouse has a disorder are:
* One spouse accusing the other of having an affair even when there is no evidence.
* He /she will put meaning to every statement made and add a negative connotation to it.
* He/she feels people are coming to get them.
* He/she makes sly remarks
* He/she feels there are persons coming to harm them.
* He/she has a lot of delusions.
Is your mate schizo?
* If he/she has a sense of being overly important; constantly seeks admiration from others but has little thought for others; tends to exploit personal relationships; believes he/she is superior to others and is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love, then your mate may suffer from what is known as narcissistic personality disorder.
* If he/she interprets the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning; believes others will harm, exploit or deceive him/her without any proof; suspects he/she may be attacked suddenly by others at any time without reason; is jealous, guarded, secretive or appears to be withdrawn; or is excessively serious, your mate may have paranoid personality disorder.
* If he/she is withdrawn and detached from others; appears to be emotionally cold and distant; appears to be a loner who fears closeness, intimacy and chooses solitary activities or hobbies that do not require interaction with others, your mate may have a schizoid personality.
* If he/she is uncomfortable around others; has difficulty forming relationships; his/her behaviour is odd and eccentric; he/she reacts inappropriately or not at all during conversations, your mate may have a schizotypal personality disorder.
* If he/she consistently disregards or violates the rights of others; acts out his/her conflicts; ignores normal rules; is deceitful and manipulative or lies constantly without any just cause, your mate may have has antisocial personality disorder -- also called psychopathy, sociopathy or dissocial personality disorder.
* If he/she has unstable and intense personal relationships; problems with self-image; is impulsive and moody; is excessively dependent on others; has great difficulty with his/her own sense of identity; has difficulty in interpersonal relationships; is prone to self-mutilation or attempts of suicide, then your mate may have borderline personality disorder.
* If he/she can't function without the help of others; is submissive and clingy; has difficulty making everyday decisions; lacks the self-confidence to initiate projects or individual activities: will urgently seek another relationship as soon as one ends; worries incessantly about being left to care for his/herself; your mate may have what is called dependent personality disorder.
* If he/she is preoccupied with orderliness, perfection and control; is unable to cope with changed circumstances; is preoccupied with details, rules, lists and order; will sacrifice leisure time, vacations and friendships for work; is reluctant to delegate tasks to others and views money as something to be stored for future catastrophes, then your mate may suffer from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.