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It's All Your Fault • episode 141

Are Personality Disorders a Mental Illness?

Personality disorders are widespread but not always seen as a mental disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association indicates that over 10% of adults have such a disorder, based on studies from several countries.

These are huge numbers, yet few people know much about personality disorders and many do not see them as a mental disorder. Information found online is often misleading. Ultimately, many people simply get angry with those with personality disorders, believing that they are just being difficult on purpose and can control their behavior. Likewise, judges generally do not consider them a factor in making legal decisions, because they are considered to know right from wrong. However, these views may be changing.

In this episode, Bill and Megan discuss:

  • what is considered a mental illness or disorder
  • how personality disorders are different from other types of mental illnesses
  • whether personality disorders are a form of mental illness at all, or something more normal
  • the link between personality disorders and important cases, including the Elizabeth Smart case and Unabomber case
  • personality disorders receiving increased awareness in the courts, including an Australian case regarding borderline personality disorder and a California study indicating the presence of narcissistic personality disorder in family court cases

Links & Other Notes



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Note: We are not diagnosing anyone in our discussions, merely discussing patterns of behavior.

  • (00:00) – Welcome to It’s All Your Fault
  • (01:10) – Personality Disorders and Mental Illness
  • (02:43) – What Is a Mental Illness or Disorder?
  • (06:04) – Personality Disorders
  • (09:04) – How Legal Views It
  • (11:01) – The Elizabeth Smart Case
  • (13:40) – The Unabomber Case
  • (17:34) – Medication vs. Skills
  • (19:44) – The Brown Case
  • (24:26) – Narcissistic Personalities in Courts
  • (27:35) – Reminders & End of Season One Note

Hosted by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. and Megan Hunter, MBA, It’s All Your Fault! High Conflict People explores the five types of people who can ruin your life—people with high conflict personalities and how they weave themselves into our lives in romance, at work, next door, at school, places of worship, and just about everywhere, causing chaos, exhaustion, and dread for everyone else.

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