Note: this is from a personal perspective and doesn’t represent all people on autism spectrum
Personality Disorders & Autism
Yes they can co-occur and yes it does happen, personality disorders and autism these are types/trait which are “extreme” and “disordered” versions of “normal” personality type this can happen for variety of different reasons an environmental trigger, isolation and alienation, victimisation or genetic predisposition to having such extremes but is idiopathic in nature. (these can happen to ANYONE).
I Have “Been There”
I am a person who has “been there” in terms of personality disorders and it was during my early 2os, at this time I was being bullied at my workplace and into between hanging on there and leaving (which I did soon enough) it was a mixture of additional mental health conditions, unipolar depression, mood disorder (low mood dysthoria), self harming and suicidal ideation.
1. Schizotypal Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pg. 645) describes Schizotypal Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference);
- odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or “sixth sense”; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations);
- unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions;
- odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped);
- suspiciousness or paranoid ideation;
- inappropriate or constricted affect;
- behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar;
- lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives;
- excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.
2. Borderline Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pg. 654) describes Borderline Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment;
- a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation;
- identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;
- impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating);
- recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior;
- affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days);
- chronic feelings of emptiness;
- inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights);
- transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.
What Are YOUR Personality Types?
When you look at these two sets of personality disorders from a person perspective they at both ends of the spectrum with one being marked by non-conformity and the other a sub-conscious wanting how did I get through this ? Firstly knowledge – understanding my autism “fruit salad” meant looking at the whole package and that included personality types of which I have 4 these two above in there “normal” variants are 1. idiosyncratic and 2. mercurial balanced and have bettered my functioning along with my tinted lenses for visual perceptual disorders for example.
It Can Be Apart Of The “Bigger Picture”
By picking these aspects of functioning I think is important when looking at an autism diagnosis could be that undiagnosed or unrecognised personality disorders could hinder functioning of a person but could be just be thought as “the autism”. For me dissociation, suicidal ideation, interpersonal issues (compacted by the pds), auditory hallucinations and psychosis were the tip of the iceberg not only in my “autism fruit” salad at the point but also the development of my identity and personality as a whole.
I have learnt over time to take control and autonomy of my emotions despite having problems with mentalising and alexithymia, I have learnt to not be too intense with people I like and if sense that I am back away and “turn the volume down”, I have learnt the importance of autonomy and not fearing aloneness chronically, I have learnt and accepted that dissociation and being “borderline” gives my problems with “self identity” along with other issues such as “self and other” processing, alexithymia, visual perception, I have learnt that being “odd” means that something is up and I need focus of getting grounded again. I have learnt that overall with all the interacting pieces I know of that balance is the place to be that is message of hope.
I challenge politely people on autism spectrum who think that autism is “all of them” with so many interwoven personality types in human beings would it really make sense for autism to be “all of the person?” considering autism is made up of pre-existing conditions anyway? I wonder in the future will they diagnose or recognise personality types in people on the autism spectrum? I certainly think that would beneficial.
Paul Isaacs 2016