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Question
Posted by: Chelle | 2008/01/29

Mental Illness vs. Behavioural Problems

Hi CS

I'm curious about the criteria used to declare certain personality traits as a mental illness. For example, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is listed as a mental illness, but to me it seems more like the diagnosis criteria is in effect just a list of behavioural problems, which a specific person might have.

Is there a chemical imbalance that brings about a person not being able to have empathy, or to have grandiose sense of self importance?

How treatable from a medication perspective is this type of disorder, and can someone learn to have empathy?

Thanks

Enjoy the day!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hello Chelle,
Hmm. I don't think anyone has identified specific chemical imbalances related to chronic personality-related problems, which seem to relate both to strongly inherited personality patterns and habits formed through life. So the sort of problem you describe later in your question are more responsive, IF the individual actualyl wants to change them, to psychotherapy than chemical therapies. Now, ordinary disorders like anxiety and depression may lead to an exaggeration of underlyin g personality traits, so that what is at most an occasional nuisance becomes more dominant and troublesome, and in such an instance, chemical / med treatment of the major anxiety, depression or suchlike disorder, could lead to modification of the personality-related problems for the better

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