Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 30th 2014 Contents A37
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
There is something off beam with every one
of us. For some it is a more severe matter than
for others. If you do not believe this though, I d
respect your position.
About 75 per cent of the oddities do not require
judgment beyond personality quirks to be placed
on the shortcoming. For the other 25 per cent,
we are off-centre to varying degrees and can be
diagnosed with one or more of over 200 classified
forms of mental illness that fall in the pathology
of psychology or psychiatry.
Of that 25 per cent, I m risking a thought that
only about five per cent would believe, accept, and
do something about their peculiarity. This, because
of the prevalence of stigma and discrimination
and in some environments, that of human-rights
violation, including denial of health and education
services and exclusion from the workforce.
Additionally, I m aware that there are religions
that frown upon the idea of believers/devotees/ini-
tiates accepting that mental neuroses are possible
within the constituency of a supreme being and
the specific healing ideology being promoted.
In my instance, so many years ago my Mother
was convinced my breakdown was demon pos-
session and found sufficient support by those
who "saw" many inappropriate things "being done"
to me. That type of opinion is still alive and kicking!
And while I would never discount the present evil,
I d always insist that religious leaders educate them-
selves to appropriate judgment in sensitive matters
like mental illnesses. That said, this week I d like to
present some more information on Cluster A of per-
sonality disorders (PDs). Cluster A is called the odd,
eccentric group and includes the following:
The Paranoid Personality Disorder; the Schizoid
Personality Disorder, and persons with Schizotypal
The Paranoid PD is defined by persistent mistrust
and suspiciousness of others. People with this disorder
assume that others are out to harm them, take advan-
tage of them, or humiliate them. They put a lot of
effort into protecting themselves and keeping their
distance from others. They are known to pre-emp-
tively attack others if they feel threatened, they hold
grudges, are touchy, and display pathological jealously.
Their perception of the environment includes reading
malicious intentions into genuinely harmless, innocent
comments or behaviour, and dwelling on past slights.
The Schizoid PD is rare and is characterised by a
pervasive pattern of social detachment and a restricted
range of emotional expression. People with this dis-
order tend to be socially isolated. They don t seem
to seek out or enjoy close relationships. They almost
always chose solitary activities, and seem to take
little pleasure in life. These "loners" often prefer little
human interaction and appear indifferent to both
criticism and praise.
Emotionally, they seem aloof, detached, and cold.
They may be oblivious to social nuance and social
cues and appear socially inept and superficial. They
appear rather dull, bland, or inattentive and
cannot/don t reciprocate smiles or nods of agree-
Schizotypal Personality Disorder demonstrates a
pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal limita-
tions. They experience acute discomfort in social
settings and have a reduced capacity for close rela-
tionships. For these reasons they tend to be socially
isolated, reserved, and distant.
Unlike the Schizoid Personality Disorder, they also
experience perceptual and cognitive distortions and/or
eccentric behaviour. They notice flashes of light no
one else can see, or see non-existent objects/shadows
in the corner of their eyes. People with Schizotypal
PD have odd beliefs, like thinking they can read other
people s thoughts, or that their own thoughts have
While trying to ascertain if these descriptions fit
you or someone you may think is in need of care,
bear in mind that there are four defining features of
personality disorders which are: -
Distorted thinking patterns; problematic emotional
responses; over- or under-regulated impulse control
and; interpersonal difficulties.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013) of
the American Psychiatric Association s (APA), these
four core features are common to all personality dis-
orders. "Before a diagnosis is made, a person must
demonstrate significant and enduring difficulties in
at least two of those areas. These four features combine
in various ways to form ten specific personality dis-
orders... In order to be diagnosed with a specific PD
a person must meet the minimum number of criteria
Furthermore, to meet the diagnostic requirements
for a PD the symptoms must be distressing to the
person with the disorder/symptoms making it difficult
for them to function well in society.
If any of these PDs describe you, you should at
least afford yourself a consultation.
Still, there are people who do not see their oddities
and in that instance, if we care, we must also find
approaches to aid them to a diagnosis and support
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
Do people know they are odd, eccentric?
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