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Addiction

Are College Years Really the Time of Your Life?

It is believed that your college years are “the best years of your life.” When discussing prospective colleges that are considering taking you into their campuses, there is always at least one family member or friend talking about the friends and memories they had made during their own college years. However, many people forget the overwhelming amount of homework and studying, peer pressure, adapting to a new environment, meeting entirely new people, and working to try to earn money. When combining all of these terrifying and overwhelming aspects of “the college years,” it can be hard to see it as the best time of your life. These experiences lead to feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness which in turn can lead many students looking to drugs for relief or enhancement of their performance.

Many of the drugs that are commonly abused on college campuses include Vicodin, Percocet, marijuana, Adderall and Ritalin (Spencer, 2017; Anders, 2017). Use of these drugs turned into an epidemic that seems to be running rampant on college campuses. The stresses experienced in college push these students to abuse Vicodin, Percocet, and marijuana. in order to get relief from their stress and anxiety. At times, these drugs even provide students relief from loneliness (Spencer, 2017).

Other drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin provide more performance enhancement than relief. These are stimulant drugs, which are typically prescribed to those suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (RxList, n.d.). These drugs are typically used by college students to pull all-nighters to study for an exam or get a paper done before an 8 AM class. They are also used because they are believed to help students perform better on their homework, studying and exams. Findings by Curries, Stabile & Jones (2014) dispute the allegations that stimulants improve students’ performance in school and claim that they don’t improve school performance and reiterating the fact that the harmful effects outweigh the beneficial ones. Even for those taking these drugs for a legitimate reason such as ADHD.

Unfortunately, this continues to be a dangerous and common problem in universities all over America. Universities do have the opportunity to simply enact new programs to show support for students that are struggling with this problem and to limit the risk of new students developing it. By creating mandated programs for students, parents and all staff at the university, at-risk individuals can be taught how to recognize the symptoms of substance abuse, what to do when someone is abusing drugs/overdosing and what these commonly abused drugs. To go a step further, institutions can apply for more recovery programs, place overdose reversal kits in every building, implement drug tests in dorms and increase the number of psychological services available (Spencer, 2017).

Students in college suffering from drug abuse are commonly seen as “failures,” “bad people,” but they don’t see that “having a substance use disorder is like having diabetes or a heart condition” (Spencer, 2017). Despite mental illnesses being hard to see the visible aspects of them, their effects are real and damaging much like physical illnesses. So, the very least universities can strive to help these students feel more positively about seeking help instead of furthering the stigmas associated with drugs.

References:

Adderall vs. Ritalin. (n.d.). RxList. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/adderall_vs_ritalin/drugs-condition.htm

Anders, C. (November 17, 2017). College Students Far Overestimate Student Abuse, Research Finds. Indiana Daily Student News. Retrieved from http://www.idsnews.com/article/2017/11/ciadhd

Currie, J., Stabile, M., & Jones, L. (2014). Do Stimulant Medications Improve Educational and Behavioral Outcomes for Children with ADHD? Journal of Health Economics, 37, 58-69. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.05.002

Spencer, K. (October 30, 2017). Opioids on the Quad. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/education/edlife/opioids-college-recovery-addiction.html

Categories
Addiction

The Media’s Portrayal of Parental Addictions

Parents dealing with drug addictions is the latest trend in media and news outlets coverage. It seems like every time you turn on the news, a recently surfaced video of drug-addicted parents dealing with their addictions while taking care of their children is running. News outlets are sure to portray these parents as harmful, negligent, and selfish. While sensationalism is rampant, there are compassionate ways to portray parents dealing with addiction. A video of fourteen-year-old Tori Brinkman showed how traumatizing and difficult having a parent with an addiction can be (Snow, 2017).

It can be hard to portray a parent’s suffering from an addiction as anything but dysfunctional, however, Eileen Fragiacomo (2017) portrays a different picture from what is typically seen on the news. Eileen was the daughter of a drug-addicted mother, Helen, who had Eileen picking up drugs for her by the age of nine years old. In her article, Eileen describes her fear of how her mother would behave and the drugs she would have taken when Eileen got home from school. Helen was similar to the news portrayals of drug-addicted parents; she was negligent towards Eileen and placed her daughter in reckless and dangerous situations to fulfill her addiction’s needs. When she was a child, Eileen explains her feeling at fault for her mother’s behavior, assuming that a lack of love is what leads her mother to disappear for multiple days at a time. It is obvious why the children of drug-addicted parents can be so emotionally and mentally distraught when growing up in a home that promotes such negative feelings and situations.

When Eileen describes her mother in these ways, she also thanks her mother for what she has learned from her. Eileen says that her mother was “…funny, wildly creative and wonderful… when she was sober. But she was a drug-addicted recluse – and had been since before [Eileen] was born. [Eileen] simply didn’t know her any other way” (2017). It is hard to look at the good when growing up in such a tough situation, but Eileen explains the good that was in her mother to remind readers that her mother was still a person, nonetheless. This is one thing that the media and news constantly forget to add. Angie, Eileen’s guardian, and grandmother taught her granddaughter that Helen was simply sick and once she had recovered, things would go back to normal, promoting a positive hope in Eileen. Angie made sure to teach Eileen that her mother was not a bad person for having an addiction. After her mother’s death, Eileen has come to the realization that because of her mother, she is now a kinder and stronger person, and understands what unconditional love for someone is now after living her life with a drug addicted parent (2017).

Thus, we come to a conclusion that prompts us to wonder: are the news and media covering parents suffering from drug addiction correctly? Eileen writes about her mother without judgment and remembers that her mother was a person like everyone else. When compared to the news outlets painting these parents as selfish, negligent and harmful, we must ask: is this a story that would inspire parents to get help for themselves and their children or continue their addictions from fear of being judged as such? It is unfair for parents wanting to get help for their addictions, but who are afraid to get help due to people considering them a selfish parent or a negligent parent.

References:

Fragiacomo, E., (2017, October 10). “Surviving My Mother’s Drug Addiction.” Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/surviving-my-mothers-drug-addiction_us_59e67f97e4b00905bdad5770

Snow, K., (2017, October 9). The Nightly News with Lester Holt. New York, NY: NBC News Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/opioid-crisis-14-year-old-on-mother-s-addiction-1066965571670

Categories
Personality Disorders

A Matter of Life and Death

Imagine: you work or go to school full-time, maybe you do both. You may come home and study, do laundry, clean, cook dinner and, on top of it all, take care of your family too. Now imagine your full plate of work and daily errands while also waking up each day and having near constant thoughts of suicide running through your head. Could you handle it? Would it be a heavy weight on your shoulders to have those thoughts with all that you already have to get done in your busy week? For someone struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), this is their life almost every day.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness discusses the many symptoms that accompany Borderline Personality Disorder. Some of the most dangerous symptoms of BPD include “impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving, self-harming behavior including suicidal threats or attempts” and unstable moods. These three symptoms can be major factors when it comes to a sufferer of BPD contemplating, attempting or even completing death by suicide.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is a top leading cause of death among multiple age groups. More so, in 2015, it claimed over 44,000 lives in the United States. The prevalence of suicide attempts a year later, in 2016, was a total of only .5% among adults in America. With those facts in mind, Meghadeepa, a contributor on The Mighty,  explains that a staggering 70% of people suffering from BPD will face a suicide attempt. She also adds that people suffering from BPD will be about 50% more likely to die by suicide than the general population. This information has been supported by countless amounts of studies to show that the suicides faced by people with BPD outweigh the amount faced by the general population. This notion that BPD sufferers conquer a major portion of suicides in the United States is one that must be investigated and mended.

Unfortunately, professionals are aware of the symptoms that accompany a disorder like BPD and therefore may mislabel contemplations or attempts of suicide as being “manipulative” or  are “just threats.” Mislabels, such as these, is one of the biggest stigmas associated with BPD, where sufferers are believed to be manipulative, lie, or exaggerate for the sake of getting attention. These are dangerous assumptions for professionals to make given that the prevalence and rates of suicidal behaviors among BPD sufferers are so high. Therefore, to know that these professionals, at times, can’t take sufferers serious in their claims or aren’t prepared to counteract their claims, can have deadly consequences on those struggling.

However, while professionals need to be sure to maintain their awareness of sufferers’ emotions and actions in regard to suicidal behaviors, they can’t be entirely blamed for these high percentages. Additional support must be made available to those suffering from BPD and those with suicidal ideations/behaviors. Michelle Berk and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate risk factors that may be present for suicidal BPD sufferers. In the study, they talk about reducing the access sufferers have to lethal means, especially when they have a history of attempting suicide or self-harming from that mean. This is an effective intervention for suicide and self-harm behaviors. In addition to this, monitoring those struggling is necessary at all times, and creating safety plans to help them keep themselves safe even in the event that they did make an attempt to die by suicide. Lastly, BPD and suicide is a legitimate matter of life and death, which is why we need to learn the warning signs and how to do a simple risk assessment to detect if someone is at imminent risk. With these simple changes, we can help to make an impact on the amount of people dying by suicide with BPD and in the general population.

References:

Meghadeepa (2016, December 1). The Implications of Suicide Statistics for Someone With BPD. The Mighty.Retrieved from https://themighty.com/2016/12/suicide-rate-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/

National Institute of Mental Health (2018, April). Suicide. National Institute of Mental Health.Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide.shtml

Pompili, M., Girardi, P., Ruberto, A., Tatarelli, R., et al. (2005, February 25). Suicide in Borderline Personality Disorder: A meta-analysis. [Figure 1 graph of number of suicide recorded within a number of studies]. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Distribution-of-suicides-among-patients-with-BPD-compared-with-the-general-population-of_fig1_7026467

National Alliance on Mental Illness (2017, December). Borderline Personality Disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder

Berk, M. S., Grosjean, B., & Warnick, H. (2009, May). Beyond Threats: Risk factors for Suicide in Borderline Personality Disorder. Current Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/63558/beyond-threats-risk-factors-suicide-borderline-personality-disorder

Categories
Personality Disorders

Where Drama Meets Disorder

When we think of someone having a mental disorder, we often think of someone staying in bed for days, experiencing crippling anxiety or abandoning their responsibilities. We don’t often think of a mental disorder having to do with overdramatic, overly sexual, or theatrical behaviors. You may have that one person in your life that may be self-centered, shallow, constantly looking to be reassured, inappropriate in their language or behavior, or over-dramatizes the littlest of things. Did you know that when these aspects of a person get in the way of their functioning or become severe, that it could be considered a disorder?

According to an article written by Suzanne Degges-White, about 10% of the entire population suffers from a personality disorder, with about 1.8% of that population being affected by Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). HPD is identified as a Cluster B disorder in the DSM-5. This cluster has disorders that are mainly characterized by traits such as dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking of behavior. Other disorders in this cluster include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Someone suffering from HPD specifically has these major symptoms such as craving attention, exaggerated outbursts (sometimes in hope for more attention), and emotional instability.

HPD is often found in adolescence and early adulthood, but the actual cause of the disorder is unknown. It is believed that social (such as childhood events) and biological (such as genetics) factors play a large part in the acquiring of HPD in sufferers. According to Psychology Today, the prevalence and difference between genders are unknown because “it occurs more frequently in women than in men, although some feel it is simply more often diagnosed in women because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are less socially acceptable for women than men.”

As with every personality disorder, diagnosing Histrionic Personality Disorder can be challenging due to similarities between disorders (especially when in the same cluster) and because the severity of disorder that the illness brings to the sufferer must be included, and we don’t always know the degree of severity or impairment. Sufferers of HPD may find themselves in risky situations due to their overly sexual behaviors. Furthermore, underlying mental illnesses like depression or anxiety are often found when relationships end more so than in someone that doesn’t suffer from HPD because they may not over-dramatize a breakup in the same way. Lastly, sufferers struggle with accepting responsibility for negative aspects of their life and may feel blame should be placed on others when it comes to situations such as failure on a work assignment or failure of a relationship. Despite these effects, those suffering from HPD are typically able to live comfortably and confidently with treatment. They are also able to function in social environments and environments requiring work to be done like in a school, or career setting.

The biggest mistake that we, as a whole, are making when it comes to Histrionic Personality Disorder is not acknowledging it or understanding it. We can’t change the fact that it has a low prevalence but maybe if we put time and dedication into researching it and educating ourselves about it, we can realize that HPD is a real disorder and doesn’t just explain that typical “drama queen” or “attention seeker” we have in our lives. Professionals need to take a step into finding out more about this disorder such as the causes, and true prevalence between genders. We, as a population, need to take a step to educate ourselves on this disorder to encourage people that it is okay to suffer from HPD, help is possible for those suffering and that they will not be judged for owning their disorder.

References:

Vozenilek, N. (2017, April 18). Breaking Down Personality. The Humanology Project. Retrieved from http://ethosnews.com/2017/04/18/breaking-down-personality/

Aleksey, A. S. (2012, December 30). Praise Me, Sanduskey: Insight on the Histrionic Personality Disorder. Atoms & Empty Space: Your ‘Shatter the Stigma’ Database. Retrieved from https://aa400415.wordpress.com/tag/hpd/

Kandola, A. (2017, December 31). Everything you Need to Know About Histrionic Personality Disorder. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320485.php

Psychology Today. (n.d.) Histrionic Personality Disorder. PsychologyToday.com. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/histrionic-personality-disorder

Degges-White, S. (2017, December 15). The Top 10 Personality Disorders: Symptoms and Signs. PsychologyToday.com. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/201712/the-top-10-personality-disorders-symptoms-and-signs

Categories
Personality Disorders

BPD: Different Stigma for Different Genders

When it comes to a physical illness such as a heart attack, gender differences can be undeniably obvious. According to Harvard Medical School, some of these differences include the average age of a first heart attack to the survival rate to treatment. Even symptoms of a heart attack differ between genders in that, women report more throat discomfort, pressing on chest and vomiting, where men report more right-sided chest discomfort, dull aches, and indigestion. As it can be seen, it’s possible for there to be vast differences in the same illness between males and females. When it comes to mental illnesses, these differences can be found too. Unfortunately, with the stigma associated with mental illness, the differences in a disorder such as Borderline Personality Disorder can be traumatic.

Until a few years ago, most have believed that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) mostly affected women. It was believed that it was three times as common in women as in men, but with recent studies, it was found that the difference of the prevalence in BPD is minimal between genders, if at all. This misunderstanding of the prevalence alone has created a stigma for men who are diagnosed with BPD. This has created a cage around sufferers, making them feel like they are isolated and weighed down because they don’t have the support of other men.

Pete Miller is a mental health professional who has also experienced what it is like to be a male diagnosed with BPD. According to Miller, “In [his] Psychology practice, [he] [does] see BPD more often in female patients than in male patients. In [his] experience about 8 females to every 2 males. Also, when males do attend therapy, they tend to have only a few sessions rather than complete a full intake, diagnosis, and treatment.” Miller later adds that while he does see more women in his practice, he doesn’t believe there are more women affected by BPD than men. Miller believes that due to the stigma associated with BPD, especially being a man with BPD, it is a stressful thing to ask for help and to actually follow through with it.

Farahnaz Mohammed, a writer for Quartz, wrote an article about David O’Garr, a man that struggled with the diagnosis and the stigmas of BPD. Mohammed wrote about some of the stigmas associated with men struggling with BPD, the biggest that they are “abusers, selfish or incapable of love.” This is a bold and extremely false claim that has fueled a fear in men with BPD. This, then, creates further hesitation in getting help for their BPD and the aspects of their life affected by the stigma of BPD. Mohammed goes on to explain that for men that have a significant other or a family it may be exceptionally hard for them because they are preoccupied with a traditional idea of masculinity (as many men are) of being the head of the household. Thus, these men want to earn a living and support their family, and if they are diagnosed with BPD, treatment will require a lot of involvement of the family leading the sufferer to be in a vulnerable place emotionally. This may also require an abundance of time, in order to help him with treatment.

These stigmas against men suffering from BPD are unfair. In a world where we fight for equal rights for all genders, races, we should also be advocating for men with mental illnesses like BPD. In order to put an end to these stigmas, we need to educate ourselves and the people around us to show them that men with BPD are not abusers or in any way different than any of us. They are their own person – they are not their disease and therefore, should not be considered incapable of love for what they are struggling with. We need to accept a mental illness, in men and women, the same way we accept a physical condition like a heart attack between genders. We need to learn to embrace their diagnosis to demonstrate that they are okay and to demonstrate that asking for help is okay. In doing these, we can only hope that more men suffering from any mental illness will realize the falseness to the stigma associated with having a mental illness and will reach out for more help unapologetically and with little fear.

References:

Harvard Medical School. (2016, April). The Heart Attack Gender Gap. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-heart-attack-gender-gap

Hitti, M. (2005, February 18). Men vs. Women: Confusion Over Heart Symptoms. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20050218/men-vs-women-confusion-over-heart-symptoms#1

Meyers, S. (2013, August 22). Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder: Men and Women. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201308/understanding-borderline-personality-disorder-men-and-women

Mohammed, F. (2018, February 13). Modern Medicine is Failing Men by Diagnosing Them with Borderline Personality Disorder. Quartz. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1202985/how-modern-medicine-fails-men-with-borderline-personality-disorder/

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2011), Gender Patterns in Borderline Personality Disorder. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 8(5), 16-20. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3115767/

Categories
Personality Disorders

Seeing Eye-to-Eye on Personality Disorders

In a world full of millions of people, there is said to be about sixteen types of personalities when it comes to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is a well-known inventory used to distinguish personality types. While it sounds like only sixteen personalities for millions of people are too few, we need to remember the variations in severity to the traits in these personalities. These types of personalities were scientifically discovered through studies and the use of inventories like MBTI, but how can we really be sure that they are the only major types when there are so many distinct minds in this world? How do we know that what we consider “Personality Disorders” are disorders at all and not just variations or new types of personalities? This is the question that fuels the controversial debate when it comes to Personality Disorders.

Personality is something that makes us who we are. The American Psychiatric Association describes it is as the foundation of where our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings build up from. Our personalities are an early creation of our experiences and innate traits. On the other hand, a personality disorder (PD) according to the DSM-5 guidelines, is apparent when the personality has been endured for a length of time, deviates from cultural expectations, is invasive and obstinate, has an early onset, is stable through time, and leads to distress or impairment. With the exception of leading to distress or impairment, the difference between personality and personality disorders doesn’t seem too far off.

Personality disorders have been a subject of debate and controversy for some time now among psychologists and psychiatrists. According to Mind.org, agreement on the understanding of personality disorders can be hard to find. Personality traits mistakenly being diagnosed as a disorder and the somber stigma associated with a diagnosis of a personality disorder makes this mental illness a legitimate and unnerving controversy.

The agreement among specialists on their understanding of personality disorders is a difficult task. As I brought up earlier, with so many types of personalities with such varying degrees of each trait within those personalities, seeing eye-to-eye on what can be determined a disorder is a struggle. As Kim and Tyrer (March 2010) elaborated in their study “Controversies Surrounding Classification of Personality Disorder” that “…clinician[s] need to be aware of the importance of assessing personality abnormality in terms of a severity dimension, and of the ways in which such an abnormality can impact on treatments for conditions.”

We often use words reflecting personality disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder, loosely. These words, correspondingly, include those such as “narcissist,” “psycho(path),” “sociopath,” and “drama queen.” When we use these words, we are more likely to be saying them in regard to a person’s personality and traits rather than a personality disorder that they may or may not have, demonstrating the stigma associated with characteristics of personality disorder. Often times this happens and can be exacerbated when specialists misdiagnose a patient’s personality for a personality disorder. For example, someone so used to hearing or using the word “psychopath” may be distraught if they were to be mistakenly diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and may believe that they are a “psychopath” based on the stigma associated with that PD. Consequently, it can lead to other mental illnesses like anxiety or depression due to the stigma so closely associated. The misdiagnoses that fuel this controversy has these as just a few of the crucially serious consequences that can be found. To fix this, clinicians must be on the same page regarding the issue, so as to have the same standards for what constitutes a personality disorder diagnosis. If a clear and accurate way to distinguish the difference between personality and a disorder is created, we can lessen the stigma and the effects that sufferers feel from the stigma.

References:

Kim, Y.-R., & Tyrer, P. (2010). Controversies Surrounding Classification of Personality Disorder. Psychiatry Investigation, 7(1), 1-8. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2848771/

Mind. (n.d.). Personality Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/personality-disorders/why-is-it-controversial/#.Wpl3SGY-LOR

American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). What are Personality Disorders? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disroders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). (n.d.). Personality Disorders. Retrieved from https://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm18

The Myers and Briggs Foundation. (n.d.). MBTI Basics. Retrieved from http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

Categories
Personality Disorders

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Fact or Fiction

We all have that friend who can’t stop taking selfies. That sibling that must look at themselves every time they pass a mirror. That co-worker that can’t stop talking about themselves. The truth of the matter is we all have traits and behaviors such as these that we indulge in once in a while. We often label these people “narcissists,” but we need to ask ourselves: are they really “narcissists?” Unfortunately, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a Personality Disorder distorted by myths.

Like most Personality Disorders, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) stems from an early childhood trauma that left the sufferer with an “unstable self-esteem, the inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation, and low empathy” (Greenberg, 2017). In other words, NPD is typically classified as having an overwhelmingly inflated self-esteem, sense of entitlement, sense of perfection and ego. NPD is an exceptionally uncommon disorder, which makes every selfie-loving, mirror obsessed, self-bragging person unlikely to be a “narcissist.” According to Webber (2016), it is believed to affect only about 1% of the population, whereas disorders like depression and anxiety affect about 4.5% and 3.5% of the population, respectively.

As mentioned earlier, a grandiose sense of specialty, perfection, and entitlement are major factors that indicate NPD, however, these aren’t the only signs associated with the disorder. While these are the most well-known symptoms and signs of NPD, this is only one sub-group of it. Those grandiose feelings for themselves are considered High-Status Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is also a Low-Status NPD where sufferers struggle with feelings of worthlessness for themselves, thinking lowly of themselves and depressed thinking. This juggling between Low Status and High-Status NPD, often, interferes with relationships.

On the contrary to many beliefs, sufferers of NPD are able to find happiness in relationships and care for others, besides themselves. However, due to their symptoms, it makes maintaining a relationship difficult. Often, sufferers require their High-Status feelings to be confirmed by the people around them, as a way to feel venerated. Since there are High and Low-Status sub-groups to NPD, sufferers typically alternate between feelings from each subgroup when they are in a relationship with someone. For example, a person struggling with NPD may find someone they adore but once they find a flaw in that person, they struggle to see past that flaw and may see them as nothing more than any other random person on the street.

It is commonly believed that when it comes to a narcissistic personality, people are a full-blown “narcissist” or they are just another “normal” person. This is actually quite the opposite. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not a discrete, all-or-nothing category of either one or the other; it is a spectrum. According to Rebecca Webber, The Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) is a test that measures a sufferer’s level of narcissism that can lead to a professional diagnosis. NPD is an actual disorder that must be diagnosed by a professional and can have different intensities on those struggling with the disorder.

It’s understandable why Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be such a misunderstood disorder when it is such a rare one. However, it is heartbreaking to see the confusion from the false beliefs that people struggling with NPD face due to the misunderstanding of “narcissists.” It is important to educate ourselves on this disorder so that we don’t mislabel those struggling with the disorder and we then have the capacity to understand and relate to them. When we understand the disorder, we can feel empathy to help those suffering to push through the disorder. This will give us the ability to advocate for those struggling, based on our new knowledge of NPD, rather than succumbing to the many myths that accompany a diagnosis of NPD or NPD-like behavior.

References:

Greenberg, E. (August 11, 2017). The Truth About Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/understanding-narcissism/201708/the-truth-about-narcissistic-personality-disorder

Vogel, C. (January 1, 2006). A Field Guide To Narcissism. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200601/field-guide-narcissism

Webber, R. (September 5, 2016). Meet the Real Narcissists (They’re Not What You Think). Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201609/meet-the-real-narcissists-theyre-not-what-you-think

World Health Organization (2017). Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/254610/1/WHO-MSD-MER-2017.2-eng.pdf

Categories
Personality Disorders

A World of Bias

According to a recent study, conducted by Gawda and Czubak, it was found that the prevalence rate for having at least one personality disorder (abbreviated PD) is approximately 9% for adults. Personality Disorders aren’t the most common mental disorders; however, they are one of the most important mental disorders to understand and advocate for. While England and America may be considered “worlds apart,” there is not much difference between the two countries when it comes to the way their social institutions and systems handle people suffering from PD.

An article written by Mark Easton explained that “[PD] is a medical disorder that cuts life expectancy by almost twenty years,… afflicts more people than cancer and costs the country [more than $13 billion] a year.” Easton demonstrates how staggering it can be living with such a challenging disorder.

In Easton’s article, he elaborates on the English prison systems and the effects it has on people with PD. Despite whether sufferers of PD are the offenders or not, the criminal justice system labels them with the diagnosis and treatment for PD. For a disease typically caused by early and severe trauma and stress, is it really best to have such a stressful institution give the diagnosis and treatment to sufferers? Easton claims that an estimated 70% of prisoners in the English prison system are sufferers of PD. With such a high population of PD sufferers in prison, it’s important that there is an effective treatment for sufferers so that their well-being can be maintained rather than having them regress into a potentially harmful state. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is unable to provide services that are urgent and necessary to those suffering from such a disorder that it can make it arduous for them to continue living. In which case, putting off the necessary care for them can mean suicide, self-harm, or harm to others if it is not delivered on time, especially in such a stressful institution. However, England isn’t the only country with a social institution that struggles to support PD sufferers.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, sits the United States of America where the military faces similar issues as England’s prison systems. While some see the United States’ military as one of the strongest, little is known about what goes on on the inside of such a prideful occupation. Nicole Dawson was a senior airman in the Air Force before she was questionably discharged due to a Personality Disorder. While Dawson’s story is a disappointing and heartbreaking one to hear, it sheds light on the military system in America and PD.

Dawson was discharged from the Air Force for a misunderstood comment when she sought counseling while dealing with the death of a loved one. As Dawson explains her story, it is obvious to see that it is debatable whether Dawson was suffering from PD or not. However, the military utilizes these PD discharges in order to rid themselves of unwanted and doubtful service members quickly. Joshua Kors, the author of Nicole Dawson’s article, explains that PD is a pre-existing disorder, which permits the military to deny our country’s service members the services of disability and medical benefits that they deserve and may desperately need. While this hurts military service members struggling with PD, this saves the military a major amount of money in disability and medical benefits that are no longer going to these service members.

From the article regarding Nicole Dawson’s story in the United States military and the article discussing the English criminal justice system, it is simple to see the similarities between the two stories. Despite being an ocean apart, English and American social institutions and systems have a major problem when it comes to how they are handling people suffering from PD. Awareness needs to be made on how these institutions and systems are handling sufferers of PD and action, then, needs to be made on how to right these wrongs. In this case, we may be able to help support and ease the pain of those fighting to stay alive while struggling with a personality disorder.

References:

Easton, M. (January 12, 2018). Personality disorder patients ‘let down’ by system. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-42647972

Gawda, B., & Czubak, K. (February 13, 2017). Prevalence of personality disorders in a general population among men and women [abstract]. Psychological Reports, 120(3), 503 519. Abstract retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0033294117692807

Kors, J. (January 6, 2018). Suffering from a ‘personality disorder’: How my promising military career was cut short by a dubious diagnosis. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/suffering-from-a-personality-disorder-how-my-promising_us_5a5108bbe4b0cd114bdb33b5

Categories
Addiction

Celebrities and Media to Spark “Stigma Revolution”

What is the one major commonality shared between every mental illness that exists? Lack of awareness. The awareness does not have to be in regards to the symptoms, causes, or treatment, but just a general understanding of the strong negative consequences these crippling disorders have on strugglers. This lack also often leads to stigmas being created, followed, and believed by both the person suffering and the people creating these stigmas. The common question is, how do we increase awareness and eliminate stigmas?

One disorder often accompanied by a lack of awareness is addiction. Many addicts struggle to find help because they fear the judgment that results from stigma. This stigma stems from the way people talk about addiction. What many perceive as a battle of willpower and control is truly a battle between neurobiological forces. Addiction does not just stem from conscious choices made to take drugs but results from an involuntary combination of genetics and environmental factors (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). With this stigma supporting ambiguous and commonly confused beliefs such as this running rampant, addicts are unlikely to get the help they need and deserve to live a happy, healthy life.

The effect the media has on the public is obvious, as do celebrities and Hollywood; this leads most parents to believe that media, celebrities, and Hollywood in general fuel addiction. This is a difficult claim to refute because it is clear that celebrities have a strong impact on their fans, young and old, and are notoriously known for their addictions. For this reason, we need more celebrities and more media organizations to come forward and share stories of recovery and hope. Celebrities such as Steve Aoki, Travis Barker, Macklemore, Dan Smith, and Anthony Anderson have spoken up about how addiction has affected their life or the life of a loved one. Others like Demi Lovato, Theoren Fleury, Amber Valletta and Pete Doherty have addressed addiction publicly and directly in hopes of helping others and breaking the stigma. Media such as the show Intervention, celebrity interviews, news outlets and blogs tell stories of addiction through fiction and nonfiction, while accurately demonstrating the consequences of addiction, no stigmas included. The power that celebrities and media hold over the public is immense. There’s no doubt that addiction is a serious, triggering and touchy subject when it is openly discussed. However, celebrities and media have the power to spread awareness about addiction, inspire hope and recovery and potentially spark a “stigma revolution.”

Help and recovery may look different to everyone, and it is not my place to say what people need nor to say that celebrities speaking up will cure addiction. Unfortunately, addiction is likely to be seen in generations to come. We can only hope that increased discussion and accurate media portrayals of addiction and recovery will inspire addicts to get help and meet their full potential. Through new insights into addiction and recovery, fears of judgment are being diminished, allowing addicts to seek help without unnecessary social fears.

References:

A Center For Addiction Recovery (2015, December 28). “Actor Anthony Anderson Addresses Addiction Recover – Video.” Retrieved from https://www.centerforaddictionrecovery.com/blog/actor-anthony-anderson-addresses-addiction-recovery-video/

A Center For Addiction Recovery (2016, August 23). “Dan Smith: Olympic Swimmer “Comeback Fairytale.”” Retrieved from https://www.centerforaddictionrecovery.com/blog/dan-smith-olympic-swimmer-comeback-fairytale/

A Center For Addiction Recovery (2016, October 10). “Macklemore, “I’m One of Millions of Americans Who Has Struggled with Addiction and Abused Painkillers.”” Retrieved from https://www.centerforaddictionrecovery.com/blog/macklemore-im-one-of-millions-of-americans-who-has-struggled-with-addiction-and-abused-painkillers/

Baltin, S. (2017, October 9). “Steve Aoki, Travis Barker, and More Open Up on Fighting Addiction and Depression in Industry.” Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebaltin/2017/10/09/steve-aoki-travis-barker-and-more-open-up-on-fighting-addiction-and-mental-illness-in-industry/#1a6b0c32bbfa

Freedom From Addiction, (n.d.). “Understanding the Link Between Celebrities and Teen Drug Use.” Retrieved from https://www.freedomfromaddiction.com/publications/how-do-celebrities-affect-teens-when-it-comes-to-drug-use-and-drinking

Mayo Clinic Staff, (n.d.). “Drug Addiction: Causes.” Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/basics/causes/con-20020970

Patterson, E., (n.d.). “Famous Drug Abusers.” Retrieved from https://drugabuse.com/library/famous-drug-abusers/#stigma-breakers

Rehab Today: Drug and Alcohol Rehab Blog, (n.d.). “How the Internet is Spreading Hope of Addiction Recovery.” Retrieved from https://rehab-international.org/blog/internet-spreading-hope-addiction-recovery

Categories
Addiction

The Game of Addiction

Ask any kid in the past ten years what their favorite pastime is and it is guaranteed that video games will be one of the most common responses. Video games have become a staple in the lives of most children, teens and even adults in our modern, technology-driven time. While it is not yet in the DSM-5 as an addictive disorder, there’s no denying that the over-playing of video games is a problem. Despite not being considered a formal addiction, addiction to video games can be seen in multiple forms. These forms being addiction to the online personas that can be created and altered, addiction to single player games and addiction to multiplayer games (“Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects,” n.d.).

An addiction consists of having two simple aspects; dependence and negative attitude and/or behavior (“Video Game Addiction No Fun,” n.d.). The addict acquires a dependence, wanting more to get the same pleasure of the thing being desired from the addiction. If or when denied, an addict typically exhibits negative changes in attitude and behavior. This can include arguments with family and friends, strained relationships, financial decline, decline in health, etc. While addictions normally are expected to require substances, this is a non-substance addiction disorder: like gambling addictions where addicts compulsively seek to acquire the action being sought.

Many may wonder what the harm in video games could really be, not knowing the full extent of trouble that can accompany a simple recreational technology. The social growth and development of children and teens can be impacted. Extreme seclusion often leads to a struggle to maintain interpersonal relationships with family and friends. Finances are also affected when the games become so expensive and multiple games are being bought frequently. For teen and adult addicts, academic and career problems can be found when video games become the main priority. Numerous medical problems for gaming addicts can also become a common occurrence due to the sedentary lifestyle that accompanies excessive gaming (“What is a Video Game Addiction?” n.d.).

Like most good things in life, the “moderation is key” rule can also be applied to video games, especially with children and teens, to develop healthy gaming habits. Video games provide a great sense of relief for many children and teens struggling with bullying, depression, anxiety, school troubles, family troubles, and other problems. In this case, video games in moderation could provide that sense of relief and escape, and allow a break from the everyday struggles players may be facing. In addition to emotional relief, video games also help to “expand imagination, give children the opportunity to work collaboratively, and sharpen cognitive skills,” (“Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Treatment,” n.d.). These skills can help throughout academic and professional endeavors.

Video games are a common pastime worldwide. This makes it virtually impossible to completely avoid them when almost everyone has a phone, computer or console game in their home. It is important to get help for those who are addicted to these games before their addiction grabs a hold of their lives and makes their struggle more difficult. For future gamers, it is of the utmost importance to learn that moderation is key to living a healthy lifestyle.

References:

American Addiction Centers. Video Game Addiction Symptoms and Treatment. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/video-gaming-addiction/

Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. What is a Video Game Addiction? Retrieved from http://www.addictionrecov.org/Addictions/?AID=45

Psych Guides. Video Game Addiction Symptoms, Causes and Effects. Retrieved from http://www.psychguides.com/guides/video-game-addiction-symptoms-causes-and-effects/

Ruah, S. Video Game Addiction No Fun. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/video-game-addiction-no-fun#1