Personality Disorders

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  1. 0:24 Personality Disorders
  2. 1:24 Borderline Disorder
  3. 2:02 Histrionic Disorder
  4. 2:44 Narcissistic Disorder
  5. 3:09 Schizoid Disorder
  6. 4:05 Antisocial Disorder
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Taught by

Ellie Green

Ellie holds a B.A. with Honors in English from Stanford University. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at Princeton University.

Will the Personality Disorder Crime Force make it out of the office today? In this lesson, you'll learn about each superhero's personality disorder as a late delivery of donuts sets off some of their common behaviors.

It's another typical, stress-filled day at the headquarters of the Personality Disorder Crime Force (PDCF). This dysfunctional crime-fighting unit is made up of superheroes who all suffer from one of the major personality disorders. These are problems with patterns of behavior and interpretations of experience that are stable, but different than how most people think and act. Imagine a car with wheels that are ovals instead of circles; the car can still roll along, but not nearly as smoothly or efficiently.

Only on a rare day do the PDCF actually get out and fight crime; they are usually derailed early in the day by something going wrong in the office and spend the rest of the day arguing about how to fix it. This morning, it's the donuts. It's 10AM, and the donuts haven't arrived. Members of the PDCF sit around nervously sipping coffee and listening to the police scanner, unsure of what to do.

Borderline Bob is the first to say something. 'Well, that's the last time I ever order from Dirk's Donuts,' he growls. 'The food isn't even very good!' The rest of the PDCF sit silently, remembering that only last month, Bob was praising Dirk's for having the best donuts in the city. Since Bob has borderline personality disorder, he often engages in this type of black-and-white thinking, or splitting. Everything is either all-good or all-bad, and Borderline Bob swings wildly between the two. As a result, many of his relationships with people tend to be unstable. He's actually been known to go out and get a beer or two with Dirk, but is now ranting and calling him a 'donut-shilling dirtbag!'

Not to miss an opportunity, Histrionic Harry pipes up, saying, 'Well, if we're looking for a new donut shop, I know of one that's actually closer and better than Dirk's. I went there once, and it was really funny, there was this girl there and she was checking me out...' He continues, but the rest of the PDCF has tuned him out. Harry suffers from histrionic personality disorder, which leads him to exhibit attention-seeking behavior. Even though he's very social, his colleagues suspect that he doesn't form really deep emotional attachments because he's more concerned with being entertaining and getting attention for himself than he is with finding real friends.

Histrionic Harry is still talking: 'and then, there was this homeless guy outside - 'when Narcissistic Nora interrupts him: 'I could make a better donut than any of those bozos.' Nora's claimed things like this before - 'I can leap tall buildings better than any of these nitwits,' 'I can waterski better than any of these yahoos' - to often disastrous results, so no one in the PDCF is eager to try her baking. But Nora's narcissistic personality disorder leads her to have an inflated sense of her self-worth and little regard for the feelings of others.

The PDCF starts to really fight. How long should they wait? Should they call Dirk's? Should they write a nasty Yelp review? If so, who should do it? Schizoid Sam prefers not to participate, and sits at his desk reading online fan fiction. As someone with schizoid personality disorder, not to be confused with the psychotic disorder 'schizophrenia,' Sam is socially withdrawn, cold and indifferent. But he has an active internal fantasy world, which he fuels by reading and writing World of Warcraft fan fiction. Since his colleagues are so dysfunctional, he spends much of his day in his own head. He hasn't even noticed that the donuts haven't arrived; he's too busy imagining a new type of battle armor.

Finally, Antisocial Annie offers a suggestion: 'Why don't we all write negative reviews, and pretend that they each relate to a separate incident of donuts being late?' The PDCF falls silent. They're not sure they want to sink to that level. Antisocial Annie continues: 'Dirk's really let us down. Listen Bob, he was your friend; you trusted him. And let's be real; Nora probably could make better donuts than Dirk's balls of grease.' Bob and Nora are swayed by Antisocial Annie's charismatic manipulation, which, along with her loose sense of right and wrong, is a symptom of her antisocial personality disorder. She's happy to lie and cheat to win a positive outcome for herself; she doesn't see a problem with exaggerating the failings of Dirk's Donuts in order to put Dirk out of business. People with antisocial personality disorder used to be known as psychopaths, who were primarily defined as people who had no empathy for others at all. Antisocial Annie isn't violent - most people with antisocial personality disorder aren't - but the disorder is popularly associated with violence. Violence against animals and friends during childhood is one marker for the disorder, but not all antisocial people do this. Antisocial Annie does, however, break the law often; she shoplifts a lot, and while visiting her grandmother she stole her grandmother's handicap pass so that she could park more conveniently.

Borderline Bob and Narcissistic Nora agree to Antisocial Annie's plan; Histrionic Harry makes a big speech about why he won't do it, and Schizoid Sam is oblivious to the conversation. Antisocial Annie decides that she'll just write two more reviews herself, to round out the contribution from the PDCF. They spend all day posting negative Yelp reviews, sulking and reading superhero fan fiction; another productive day at the office!

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