Personality and Stress
Your personality has a large bearing on the way that stress can affect you.
Individual differences have been shown to influence stress and health through:
- The motives the individual pursues.
- The way that the individual appraises circumstances - are they easily riled or depressed?
- Coping mechanisms - do they turn to alcohol or drugs or do they repress their emotions?
There are ten recognised personality disorders. Of these, psychopathic personality is probably the most well-known in relation to forensic profiling, given its widespread portrayal in mainstream films and literature.
"Psychopathy" is a term which was used to describe the specific psychopathic personality, and "psychopath" was used to describe a person with such characteristics (or indeed anyone with a pronounced mental disorder). However, whilst they may persist in popular fiction, films and media, these terms are rarely used in medical and legal terminology today. Instead the preferred term is "antisocial personality disorder".
Any personality disorder is shown when a person has:
- An enduring pattern of thinking, behaving and feeling that is significantly different from their culture and leads to negative consequences.
- The pattern is longstanding and inflexible.
- Begins during adolescence or early adulthood.
- Causes distress or impairments to the individual.
- Is stable across time.
An individual with an antisocial personality disorder is distinguished by having demonstrated the following types of behaviour in the past:
- Feeling of disregard towards the rights of others; a violation of their rights.
- Failure to feel empathy
- Impulsive behaviour.
- Act on their own anger of a perceived injustice.
The actions and outlook of the world will frequently get someone with an anitisocial personality disorder into trouble. They fail to conform to society’s norms and this often results in numerous arrests, a history of deceitfulness, and attempts to con people. Other characteristics are also displayed, such as:
- Superficial charm.
- Prone to boredom.
- Needing stimulation.
- Little guilt or remorse.
- Lack of empathy.
- Shallow emotional response.
- Living off others.
- Promiscuous sexual behaviour.
- Poor self control.
- Early behavioural problems.
- Irresponsible behaviour.
- Impulsive lifestyle.
- Lack of realistic long term goals.
- Juvenile delinquency.
- Short term relationships.
- Blaming others for their actions.
- Breaking parole or probation.
- A range of criminal activity.
It has been suggested that a large percentage of individuals with this disorder will have shown recognisable behaviour prior to the age of 15. These behaviours may include:
- Cruelty to animals.
- Difficulties with authority.
- Legal altercations.
- Dislike/anger towards authority.
Some research suggests that a large percentage of individuals in prison have antisocial personality disorder. Since the symptoms are long lasting, it has been suggested that the symptoms begin to emerge in childhood or adolescence. However, the negative consequences of the behaviour such as being incarcerated, harming others, and so on, may not show themselves until adulthood. The disorder is found more commonly in males.
So when carrying out an assessment, a forensic psychologist will look at whether the individual scores highly on personality questionnaire statements relating to some of the traits and behaviours expected from someone with an antisocial personality disorder, as well as other clinical personality clusters. The information gathered by forensic psychologists, and others, over a long period of time from assessing individuals from clinical populations might be used to develop a “profile” of what types and behaviours and feelings someone with an antisocial personality disorder is likely to express.
If you want to learn more about personality disorders, stress, and counselling you may be interested in the following ACS courses:
Associate Diploma In Counselling
If you are not looking to study a full length course and want to increase your knowledge in this area, you may like to look at the range of Psychology eBooks available, including Psychological Profiling.
New - we have introduced a range of 20 hour short courses, which include Counselling Practice.
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