The treatment of personality disorders, by its nature, is challenging and complex. These are people who have often had aversive or prejudicial child experiences, although sometimes there may be a genetic element to personality disorders. And to change someone who’s had such aversive experiences that in a way has hard-coded their personality is very hard work.

What is the treatment of personality disorders?

To make those changes requires two or three elements, the first is the individual with a personality disorder has to accept they have a type of personality disorder, and secondly, must be extremely motivated to change. And that’s motivation both at an intellectual level, but also at an emotional level, and that emotional and intellectual desire is critical. Secondly, they need to have a very experienced therapist, be it a psychologist or a psychiatrist, who has particular skills in seeing individuals with a personality disorder.

How long does it take to cure?

Finally, it’s time consuming. It doesn’t take weeks or months, it takes years. So the motivation is critical, the skillset of the therapist, and the ability to dedicate serious time is essential to bring about some improvement of personality in an individual who has a personality disorder.

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Presented by, Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Last Reviewed: 19/08/2020

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