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What are the Causes of Personality Disorders?

written by: Roohi Khan • edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi • updated: 9/28/2010

The genes inherited by an individual and the environment in which he or she grows up is what determines the personality of an individual. This is why some individuals may develop a personality disorder whereas others may not. So what are the causes of personality disorders? Find out right here.

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    The causes of personality disorders have been a reason for much debate over the years. Not much is known about it although an estimated ten percent of the population is affected by this psychiatric disorder. This quite controversial diagnosis is usually used to refer to a type of mental illness where an individual has problems in behaving and relating to situations and to people according to what is considered to be normal for a particular culture or society. Problems include difficulties in sustaining relationships and understanding social cues. Let's have a brief look at what we know about the causes of these psychiatric disorders.

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    The Difficulty in Determining Why Some Individuals Develop a Personality Disorder

    Not much research has been done to ascertain the causes behind these psychiatric disorders and there is no consensus among experts regarding these causes. An individual's personality is a combination of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and every person is unique in this respect. The genes inherited by the individual and the environment in which he or she is brought up during childhood are generally considered to shape the personality of an individual. However, not much is known about what factors are actually responsible for the development of personality disorders in one individual and not the other.

    Besides this, people with personality disorders often have other mental health problems including depression, anxiety, eating disorders and so on. No one knows for sure whether these can be the reasons behind personality disorders. In fact, these mental health problems could very well be the result of these personality disorders. These problems can also often hide personality disorders which can lead to misdiagnoses such as post-traumatic syndrome or Asperger's syndrome.

    Although it is definitely difficult to ascertain the causes of these psychiatric disorders, there are certain factors that may be the reason behind personality disorders. Some of these causes are listed below.

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    Growing up in Disturbed Families

    A child's character is a result of the attitudes and behaviors that he or she acquires over time. So, a child with high-strung parents who constantly restrain him or her has to cope with constant frustration and parental disapproval. This may result in avoidant personality disorders. Similarly, a child who has been sexually abused is likely to have a borderline personality disorder as an adult. This basically means that if you have grown up in a family which prevented you from developing normal attitude and behavior, you are more likely to develop a personality disorder as an individual.

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    Biological Causes

    Some people may grow up in normal families and yet develop personality disorders as an adult. It is believed that neurotransmitters play a role in such patients. High dopamine levels make an individual more inclined towards seeking new things and high levels of serotonin may cause aggression. These chemicals in the brain make an individual biologically hypersensitive to normal family stress levels and they are likely to develop personality disorders.

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    Genetic Causes

    Your genes play an important role in determining whether you develop a personality disorder or not. A child inherits his or her temperament from both parents and this plays a crucial role in determining whether you have inherited any tendencies towards developing any one of the different types of personality disorders.

    As mentioned earlier, not much research has been done and not much is known about the causes of personality disorders. However, most experts believe that whether an individual will develop a personality disorder depends on his or her inherited tendencies and the surroundings that he or she grew up in.

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    References

    MayoClinic.com: Personality disorders

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/personality-disorders/DS00562/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

    Mental Health America: Factsheet: Personality Disorders

    http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/personality-disorders

    Healthy Place: What Causes Someone to Develop a Personality Disorder

    http://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/main/what-causes-someone-to-develop-a-personality-disorder/menu-id-1058/