Personality Disorders: Eating, Substance Abuse, Sexual Disorders

In the course of the development of history people who differed from the majority by their inadequate behavior have claimed special attention. In the past, it was typical to create myths about madness and to ascribe various forms of madness to the influence of supernatural powers, the influence of the moon, ‘bad blood’ or licentiousness (Frude, 1998, p.1). However, the development of society and science, general psychology and abnormal psychology, in particular, has changed the perception of disorders suggesting scientifically grounded information. The differentiation of concrete types of disorders and detailed study of their components will make it possible to delineate further directions for the treatment of personality disorders and other types of deviations.

First of all, it is necessary to delineate a starting point of the study, the definition of “psychological disorder” as presented by Durand and Barlow (2005): “It is a psychological dysfunction within an individual associated with distress or impairment in functioning and a response that that is not typical or culturally expected” (p.2). The scientists offer the following major types of psychological disorders: eating, substance abuse, sexual, and personality disorders.

The analysis of the main components of eating disorders will help us to form our awareness of the problem. Scientists define two types of eating disorders: bulimia nervosa, uncontrolled eating episodes, which are followed by self-induced vomiting and use of laxatives; and anorexia nervosa that is expressed by minimal consumption of food that leads to dangerous weight losses (Barlow & Durand, 2008, p.261). Both disorders are caused by the uncontrolled pathological desire to be a thing. Psychologists stress the “highly culturally specific nature of anorexia and bulimia” (Durand & Barlow, 2005, p.307). There is a special cultural imperative for many young Western women that creates direct conditionality of thinness and success. Mass media with its “glorification of slenderness” has made a considerable contribution to the spread of eating disorders (Durand & Barlow, 2005, p.309). The tendency of increase in dieting and physical exercises that cannot be observed by some individuals is one more cause of the development of eating disorders. Considering the biological dimension of the problem, genetic factors should be tackled. Though the present studies are preliminary, they suggest a genetic factor, the tendency to the higher risk of acquiring eating disorders in families where there were such cases. There exists an opinion that there is a connection between neurobiological functions and eating disorders, but the matter of cause and effect remains unsolved (Durand & Barlow, 2005, p.314). It should be mentioned, that it has been stated that patients with disorders are characterized by a lack of personal control and they are underestimating their talents and abilities. Their low self-esteem goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. The patients express a high level of social anxiety that is caused by their feeling of being prisoners in their social group (Durand & Barlow, 2005, p.314).

As for sexual disorders, scientists define gender identity disorder as inconsistency of gender of a person with his sense of identity (Durand & Barlow, 2008, p. 350). As a result of this disorder, people suffer from being locked in the wrong body. From the behavioral point of view, this may result in men’s wearing the articles of women’s clothing, which is called cross-dressing. Among the factors that influence gender identity disorder, Barlow and Durand (2005) stress the influence of the family, like excessive attention from the mother (p.352). The most typical result of gender identity disorder can be the development of homosexual preferences.

The problem of substance-related disorders is even more urgent than those analyzed above because it affects great numbers of people, it has been “the plague” of society for many years already and the threat of the spread of these disorders still remains. This type of disorder is associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc.). These disorders may be classified according to the level of addiction in the following way: substance use, intoxication, abuse, and dependence (Frude, 1998). The use of cocaine, for instance, creates a state of euphoria, changes pulse, and blood pressure, and may cause changes in sleep and appetite. A number of cultural and psychological factors may cause substance abuse, for instance, a person’s discontent with his life, immaturity, and imitation of certain patterns of behavior, etc.

Finally, let us consider personality disorders. They are defined as enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal contexts. … are inflexible and maladaptive and cause significant functional impairment or subjective desires (Durand and Barlow, 2005, p.431).

Personality disorders may be observed when a person’s behavior can bring harm to himself and other individuals when a person is driven by the inadequate perception of life. These disorders differ from those mentioned above mostly because they are chronic, their origin is in childhood, and the subsequent life is characterized by its continuation. The peculiarity of this type of disorder is that it influences personality, thus, reflecting at all spheres of life. The characteristic feature of personality disorders is that they express poor results in treatment. As for the variety of these disorders, scientists define paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (Durand & Barlow, 2005, p.430).

In conclusion, it should be stated, that on studying the types of disorders, it is evident that the nature and the causes of the analyzed disorders are not sufficiently studied nowadays. Probably, this is the cause of the limitedness of the ways of treatment of the disorders. However, the harm that is done to society and individuals that suffer from psychological disorders is evident. This is why these deviations deserve special attention and need further study.


Durand, V.M., & Barlow D.H. (2005). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Durand V.M. & Barlow D.H. (2008). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach. Belmont: Cengage Learning.

Frude, N. (1998). Understanding Abnormal Psychology. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

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