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Personality Disorder, an Age-Contradicting Disease

Posted February. 16, 2003 22:45,   


We often read stories about violent husbands beating their wives on newspapers these days. Those men are likely to have an obsessive personality disorder, which is known to be the fourth most common cause of mental diseases affecting young men at age 20 in Korea.

Donga Ilbo recently conducted a survey among 5,971 20-year-old men who have completed physical tests at the Military Recruiting Agency, jointly with a psychiatric research team at Seoul National University, and found that 45% have chances of developing personality disorder.

Personality disorder is most common among people in their 20s, but there are a large number of patients in their 30s. The illness aggravates in young years and gets better as people grow older.

With the society in this country changing ever fast, however, the role of adults has not been clearly established. This explains why there are a large number of grown-up patients.

Personality disorder is a disease and therefore, patients can get well by being treated in early stages. Most patients, however, do not realize the need to see doctors and their families tend to leave them untreated while criticizing them for being mean and helpless. Then, the illness gets worse, often time leading to violent incidents.

▽ What is Personality Disorder? Personality disorder displays disruptive behavioral patterns in characters, and it is widely called personality disorder because medical experts increasingly focus on the problem of getting along with others in the society.

Experts divide the disorder into three different types – A type for eccentric and unique; B type for emotional and capricious; and C type for insecure and suppressed patients.

The research team at Seoul Nat`l University, however, found after the survey that men at the age of 20 are divided into obsessive-hysterical; disruptive-antisocial-dependent-depressed; and paranoiac-disruptive-overcautious-selfpity-avoiding-overly defensive types.

Personality disorder patients often find it hard to get along with people and tend to be impulsive and violent. Their destructive behavior then can lead to over-anxiety, alcohol addition, drug abuse, violence and attempts to suicide. They also hurt or neglect their own children due to lack of affection toward them.

As more and more people have access to the Internet, quite a number of young people in 20s enjoy vicarious "catharsis" of committing violent acts on the web, which are not thinkable in real life due to the responsibilities and limitations following their actions.

▽ Prevention and treatment of personality disorder = Psychologists explain that a person is born with a unique orientation, which serves later as a basis for forming his/her personality in constant reaction with the surrounding environment. The forming process, they say, usually completes at around 20 years of age.

Seoul National University professor Ryoo In-gyun stresses, "The family environment in childhood influences the forming process most. Parents should teach their children how to live in harmony with others without hurting them."

In the past, children learned on their own how to live with others by figuring out how to live harmoniously with their numerous siblings. These days, without, in most cases, any sibling around, parents have to teach them. Nonetheless, defective parenting due to "overprotection," indifference or inconsistency ruins children, and "produces" people of personality disorder.

Parents should train their children how to tolerate and wait for others. Further, if a child does something undesirable, the parent(s) should explain the faulty action in a logical and systematic way.

Once a child or spouse is suspected of having personality disorder, consult a doctor immediately. A patient of personality disorder tends to deny his/her illness. Therefore, it would be better even forcing them to hospital.

Doctors help a patient understand and heal his/her own defects by comprehending the problems lying in the patient`s conscious and/or subconscious area of the mind by means of analysis of the childhood environment and interpretation of dreams. In some cases, medication is administered for depression or anxiety.

The symptom would not go away easily, requiring a long-term treatment. Usually, after 6 months of treatment, a patient begins to change his/her personality.

Seong-Ju Lee stein33@donga.com