End self-sabotage & self-destruction © Martyn Carruthers

We offer relationship coaching for resolving family chaos
and emotional challenges.

Warning: You may find that some of these symptoms apply to you.
Most normal people experience many of these symptoms from
time to time, and some are requirements for various occupations!

Part 1 – Developmental Disorders

Symptoms called Developmental Disorders and Personality Disorders are opinions used by psychologists and health professionals to help determine appropriate treatments. A coach who understands these opinions can better communicate with psychologists and other health professionals, although few of these opinions can be confirmed or rejected by laboratory tests.

If a person appears to have a diagnosable medical or psychiatric condition,
please refer that person to a medical doctor or psychiatrist.

Personality Disorders and Developmental Disorders are medical terms that are rarely used in coaching. Descriptions of personality disorders are useful when discussing symptoms with health professionals. Statistical data are not useful for coaching individual clients. In our coaching, we use:

  • Relationship History (relationship events)
  • Relationship Matrix (family constellations)
  • Goalwork (goal diagnosis and conflict management)
  • Non-verbal signals (confirm, enhance or disprove messages)

Personality Disorders & DSM IV

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), owned by the American Psychiatric Association, offers guidelines to assist health professionals to form opinions that cannot be confirmed or rejected scientifically. Note that the sets of symptoms described in DSM overlap considerably, differ from person to person and that the recommended treatments for different disorders are often identical.

See Systemic Coaching & Mental Health.

1. Adjustment Disorders

Symptoms include anxiety, aggression and depression, depending on the person’s physical or emotional age.

1. Anxiety Symptoms (children or age-regressed adults)

  • Nervousness & worry
  • Fear of separation from parents or partner
  • Agoraphobia (extreme)

2. Behavioral Symptoms (adolescents & age-regressed adults)

  • Preoccupation with violence (e.g. TV, computer games and cinema)
  • Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD)
  • Violation of others rights, property or societal rules

3. Depressive Symptoms (adults)

  • Depression and withdrawal
  • Melancholy, crying and tearfulness
  • Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness

See Identity Loss & Relationship Bonds

2. Antisocial Disorders (Sociopath / Psychopath)

Symptoms include:

  • Disregards the feelings and rights of other people.
  • May use or exploit other people for their own gain.
  • May lie repeatedly, act impulsively and enjoy physical violence.
  • May mistreat spouses, neglect or abuse children, and exploit employees.

3. Anxiety Disorders

Symptoms associated with Anxiety Disorders are panic attacks / anxiety attacks which include racing heart, hyperventilation, breathing difficulties, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, headaches, trembling and more.

Anxiety Disorders include the fear of spontaneous panic attacks, anxiety or agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD, (repetition of rituals) and post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (follows a life changing experience such as bereavement or a near fatal accident.)

See Anxiety, OCD, Trauma & PTSD

4. Attachment Disorders

Symptoms associated with Attachment Disorders are repetitive and persistent violations of people, or violation of important community or social rules.

  • focus on immediate personal goals
  • preoccupied with blood, fire and gore
  • demanding, manipulative and abusive

See Identity Loss & Relationship Bonds

5. Avoidant Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • fears being criticized and rejected
  • social withdrawal due to intense, anxious shyness
  • avoids interacting with others unless they feel certain they will be liked

See Identity Loss and Relationship Bonds

6. Bi-Polar Disorders (Manic-Depression)

Symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorder are swinging moods and thoughts, and irrational behavior. Although sometimes pleasurable, the suffering may lead to suicide. The label indicates episodes of mania and depression, although a person may function normally between these episodes

Manic Phase

  • feel intensely happy and important
  • sleep less and talk in rapid-fire speech
  • have inflated self-esteem, confidence

Depressive Phase

  • feel sad or indifferent about life, activities
  • think slowly, concentrate poorly, fatigued
  • may feel worthless, hopeless or helpless

See: Identity Conflict transcript

7. Borderline Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • may perceive minor problems to be major crises
  • may express anger and frustration through self-harm
  • intense emotional instability, particularly in relationships

Children with this disorder are considered to be emotionally unstable, impulsive, and often bitter or angry, although their chaotic impulsiveness may make them popular at school. See Borderline

8. Conduct Disorders

Symptoms associated with Conduct Disorders are repetitive and persistent violations of people or important community or social rules.

  • destroys, burns or steals property
  • aggressive to people / cruel to animals
  • bullies, threatens or intimidates others

This disorder applies to children … adults with similar symptoms are likely to be labeled Antisocial Personality Disorder. See Troubled Teenagers

9. Dependent Personality Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • severe and disabling emotional dependency on others
  • difficulty making decisions without advice and reassurance
  • urgently seeks a new relationship when a relationship ends

See Dependence and Codependence

10. Depersonalization Disorders

Symptoms associated with Depersonalization Disorder are a sense of detachment or dissociation from the body. These symptoms can impede normal functioning at home, at school, or at work.

  • Feeling of being in a dream
  • Feeling that they or other people are mechanical or unreal
  • Feel as though they are floating above the ground, outside their own body

This is called Lost Identity in Systemic Coaching. The symptoms are similar to some descriptions of out-of-body and near-death experiences (NDE). See Identity Loss

11. Depressive Disorders

Symptoms include:

Chronic pessimism, gloominess and cheerlessness.
See dead person identification, Depression and Guilt

12. Histrionic Personality Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • exaggerated emotional reactions
  • may talk in dramatic or theatrical ways
  • constant attempt to be a center of attention

See Emotional Incest

13. Oppositional Defiant Disorders (ODD)

Symptoms of ODD may include …

  • easily annoyed by others
  • deliberately annoys people
  • angry, resentful and argumentative

See Troubled Teenagers

14. Narcissistic Personality Disorders

Pathological narcissism is the art of deception. Who do you know who is persistently deceptive and self-aggrandizing? Who reacts to crisis with narcissism, e.g. “This cannot possibly be happening to ME”. Some common signs are:

  • Nothing is their fault
  • They’ll never be there for you
  • They cannot admit being wrong
  • They may endlessly brag or boast
  • They will always be the ‘tragic’ victims
  • They seek excessive admiration from others
  • They fantasize about unlimited success or power
  • They believe they are special, unique or superior to others

Some narcissist behavior conforms to cultural norms – consider the American idiom Fake it until you make it. See also: Covert Emotional Incest

15. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality

Symptoms include:

  • may not take time for leisure activities and relationships
  • preoccupied with details, orderliness, perfection, and control
  • may devote excessive amounts of time to work and productivity

This disorder is said to differ from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which may include more bizarre behavior and rituals, and some people are even obsessive about statistics. See Obsessions & Compulsions and Eating Disorders

16. Panic Disorders (Anxiety Attack)

Symptoms include:

  • periods of intense fear, apprehension, or discomfort
  • racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, choking
  • fears of going crazy, losing control, or dying from a heart attack

People with panic disorders may be diagnosed with agoraphobia – a fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult should a panic attack occur. See Anxiety Disorders

17. Paranoid Personality Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • may act constantly suspicious and distrustful
  • may be hostile and react with anger to perceived insults
  • may believe that other people oppose or are against them

These symptoms are typical of Victim Identification, in which a person identifies with a family victim and expresses suspicion and anger. See Paranoia & Personality Identification & Chronic Anger

18. Passive-Aggressive Disorders

Symptoms include

  • constant complaints
  • covert criticism of authority
  • sullenness and silent disobedience

Such people punish other people for perceived wrongs – but are afraid of their own anger. This may be a reaction to aggressive or violent parents. This behavior resembles that associated with victim identification and may indicate identification with a pretend-victim. See Passive Aggressive for more.

19. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

Symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder follow traumatic experience that involved actual or potential serious injury (physical or emotional) to self, a family member or associate.

  • age-regressed (childish) behavior
  • split-off personality parts & conflicts
  • intense emotions, fear, helplessness or horror
  • disorganized or agitated behavior, especially in children
  • persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event (flashbacks)

PTSD symptoms allow a person to retreat from reality and avoid the disturbing emotions associated with acute or chronic trauma, often by acting like a wounded child. See Trauma & Abuse

20. Schizoid Personality Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • isolation – avoids close personal relationships
  • often indifferent to praise or criticism from other people
  • may prefer to be alone and seem withdrawn and emotionally detached

Symptoms associated with schizoid personality disorder allows a person to avoid displaying immature behavior or non-existent relationship skills.
See Identity Loss & Schizophrenia

21. Schizotypal Personality Disorders

Symptoms include:

  • abnormal thinking, speech, and behavior
  • may use words and phrases in unusual ways
  • may believe they have magical control over people or things

Symptoms associated with schizotypal personality disorder may be labeled as mild schizophrenia. The symptoms may allow people to express unpleasant or forbidden emotions from parental disappointments, family abuse or childhood trauma.
See Schizophrenia

22. Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD – Winter Depression)

Symptoms include:

  • craving for sweet and/or starchy foods
  • lower productivity, motivation and productivity
  • depressed behavior increases during autumn and winter

The difficult months in the northern hemisphere are usually January and February, with women and children at a higher risk. The risk of SAD seems to increase with latitude. See Depression

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