In this article we are going to touch on personality and what the criteria are for a personality disorder. Then we will explore further how personality is acquired before going into depth about dependent personality disorder.

Let’s discuss personality

No two human beings are alike. Everyone is different, and various characteristics and traits set each person apart. Apart from gender, morality, values, there is also personality. Each individual has a personality, made up of different traits, that sets them apart from others. Some individuals might have a combination or mixture of these traits. Personality is what sets one individual apart from another. It is what adds diversity and colour to the world. Search as you might, you’d probably never find two individuals who think, act and talk alike. Everyone will have their quirks and perks that will set them apart. Even identical twins can have different personalities.

Does personality change?

As a person goes through life, they acquire specific characteristics and traits that set them apart. The majority of traits aren’t fixed. They alter and change through the life course. But some personality traits remain constant throughout. Some people are genetically predisposed to acquire specific features and characteristics more than others. There are some common personality traits and characteristics that are categorised into personality types.

How is personality acquired?

Personality is something we partly inherit and partly acquire as we go through life. Both our genes and our experiences play a role in shaping a person’s personality. We may inherit an anxious temperament for one of our parents. We can also acquire traits or ways of being based on our experiences when we are younger. A child brought up in a dangerous, unsafe environment may also go on to develop an anxious personality. 

There are so many different personality types that one can identify. One person might be highly outgoing, assertive, independent, whereas another person will be timid, shy and impulsive.

What is a personality disorder?

When personality, our way of being has an impairing impact on a person’s life, their loved ones, coworkers, colleagues and friends, one can say that it becomes a disorder. It is especially so if these traits seriously disrupt the everyday routine and natural functioning of a person. 

Since personality evolves and short term stressors impact how we all behave. Psychologists and psychiatrist often want a long-standing pattern of unhelpful ways of being before diagnosing a personality disorder. 

What is a dependent personality disorder?

There are certain characteristics or traits that go with a dependent personality disorder. The good news is that individuals can alter the traits mentioned below, and they aren’t set in stone. With the help of professional psychologists and loved ones, an individual can overcome these traits.

Hard time making decisions

Indecisiveness is a crucial characteristic when it comes to dependent personality disorder. These individuals rely too heavily on others’ ideas, thoughts, and opinions and are afraid to exert autonomy.

Not trusting their judgement

They rely more on others to make decisions for them. In other words, they aren’t confident in themselves and don’t believe in their capabilities, capacities and strengths. Instead, they wholly depend on what others think, say and believe.

Reluctant to form their unique ideas, opinions and judgements. Instead, they take what others say very seriously that they might be distressed by the absence of a loved one or partner in their life. These individuals have trouble believing in their capacity to form accurate judgements and decisions and pass on the responsibility of taking a crucial or significant decision to a loved one or a partner instead of taking on the task or responsibility themselves.

People with a dependent personality disorder might worry about abandonment, losing a loved one or someone close to them. If a relationship were to end they would want to form another connection shortly after. There is a strong desire for approval and support.

 

Over eagerness to please

Everyone at some point in their life will depend on others. When this dependency becomes paralysing and detrimental to a person and all around them, it turns into a disorder. Individuals with dependent personality disorder aren’t assertive. They tend to agree with other people quickly, sometimes against their free will. They are driven by fear and anxiety and an over-eagerness to please and appear friendly. Someone with a dependent personality might live with an abusive partner instead of leaving them just because they are afraid.

Not confident in their decision making

Another trait is requiring excessive reassurance and advice from others. A person with dependent personality disorder tends to rely too heavily on others to make a significant decision. 

Indecisiveness is a major characteristic of a person’s with a dependent personality disorder. Difficulty thinking for themselves and making independent choices. Underestimate and undervalue their strengths and skills. They struggle to see value in their accomplishments.

‘Saying no’ to compliments

Individuals with dependent personality traits are quick to dismiss praise and think that they don’t deserve to be praised. They are afraid of standing out and being different. 

They struggle to fit in and try their best to conform and fit in with the crowd their whole life. These individuals are afraid of drawing attention to them and believe that the world is a dangerous place and the best way to survive is to lie low and fit and conform with the norms and beliefs of the majority. 

They are afraid to act independently and assert and express their unique ideas and perspectives because they are worried that this might draw unnecessary attention to them. Try their best not to stick out from the majority. They are over complacent and are ever ready to agree to anything despite even experiencing detrimental personal consequences.

Struggle to make choices

When it comes to making choices, both significant and insignificant, these individuals lack the necessary confidence to choose from the options available for them. Instead of deciding on something and believing in themselves to make the right moist suitable choice for themselves, they are over-reliant and dependent on the opinions and ideas of others. 

They seek advice excessively and don’t believe their views, opinions, and perspectives are of value or importance. Instead, they give priority to the ideas, opinions and thoughts of others over there and have immense trouble making decisions. They struggle to decide the best option and take more time and exert more effort than an average person when making decisions.

Avoids responsibility

These individuals shun opportunities to take responsibility. They are afraid and anxious to take on the duty. When offered responsibility, they tend to pass the ball to another person instead of shouldering the responsibility and acting with assertiveness and autonomy. 

They are afraid of shouldering responsibility because they doubt their abilities and capabilities more than ordinary people. Difficulty shoulder responsibility because they don’t trust in themselves and are overly dependent on others to make choices and decisions about their life, even profoundly personal and meaningful choice.

Trouble disagreeing

Individuals with dependent personality disorder have trouble disagreeing with others because they are too focused and concerned about what others might think of them. They don’t believe in themselves and have difficulty disagreeing with the opinions and ideas of others. 

They are afraid of being unpopular and tend to agree with everything. When it is detrimental to their wellbeing and quality of life. They are scared to voice their own opinions and ideas because of the extreme need for validation and over-eagerness to please and gain acceptance from those around them. These individuals don’t value themselves or consider themselves capable of making a valuable contribution to society or the lives of others.

Absence of self-confidence

These individuals lack self-confidence and tend to put themselves down. Other key features include devaluing themselves and have trouble appreciating and valuing themselves. They have difficulty being proud and celebrating their accomplishments.

Their low levels of confidence lead to low self-esteem, which impacts their performance and productivity. This, in turn, hurts their quality of life and wellbeing and their ability to function effectively and efficiently.

Thus this keeps them from achieving their highest potential since they have a disability with a severe lack of self-confidence because they keep undervaluing and looking down on themselves, which becomes a vicious cycle when they experience failure due to the lack of confidence which they attribute to them being not good enough or not being as capable as their peers.

Suffers for others

They put others before themselves at all times because they painful longing for approval and acceptance. There is an internal drive to please others, even at a cost to themselves. Even if others abuse them or treat them with disrespect, they tend to overlook these behaviours and attitudes because they long for the acceptance and approval of others even though it affects their self-confidence and self-esteem.

These individuals tolerate behaviours and actions that are unacceptable. They are afraid of being overlooked and undervalued. Driven to please others even at a personal cost that will hurt their wellbeing and quality of life.

Unhappiness being alone

People with a dependent personality disorder don’t believe in their ability to function as independent and autonomous individuals. They crave the company of others to an excessive level that severely affects their normal functioning. Often going to extreme lengths to stay in friendships and relationships even when they tend to be toxic and abusive.

They go to extreme lengths to be surrounded by others risking their wellbeing and quality of life. Thye have an insatiable longing for connection and validation by others. They put themselves on the line to be with others due to the extreme and excessive fears of losing others because they dread being alone and by themselves.

Requires close relationships

They actively and obsessively seek out relationships and connections. They will stick with abusive and crippling partners just because of their deep longing to be with someone and because they are terrified of being by themselves. 

If one relationship ends, they immediately go after and actively seek another replacement because they feel disabled without another. Because they lack self-assurance and underestimate themselves, they can’t function well without the help of another.

Preoccupied with the fear of being alone

These individuals dread being by themselves and being alone. They are afraid of their own company and seek out the company of others even though the connections they make are detrimental to their wellbeing and make them feel insecure. They are deeply distressed when they don’t have people around them and in their lives. Struggle to be by themselves and doing things on their own because they undervalue themselves. They rely too heavily on partners and friends to get through life challenges and problematic situations. They lack self-worth and self-respect.

Many people experience aspects of these. It becomes a disorder when it has highly negative impacts and impairs normal functioning to a significant or severe degree. These negative aspects can be detrimental when a person goes out into society or engages in an occupation. People who suffer from dependent personality genuinely believe that they are incapable and unable to function independently. Therefore they seek out help and rely too heavily on others as they go about their everyday life. They are afraid of being assertive because they fear that this will alienate the people they have come to rely on.

Dependent Personality Disorder Treatment

Therapy

Supportive therapy forms the backbone of dependent personality disorder management. A therapist can enable better understanding, containment and help with problem-solving. 

Targetted therapies such as CBT can help with assertiveness training and improving self-confidence. Sometimes behaviour exercises, challenging cognitive distortions form part of the therapy. 

Medication

Medication is not considered a first-line treatment option for dependent personality disorder. When medication is used, it’s often for a co-occurring condition such as depression. 

Recovery from Dependent Personality Disorder

Personality disorders by their very nature cause distress. The goal of treatment is to reduce distress and instil hope. People with dependent personality disorder or traits can learn ways to cope with their distress, challenge their underlying thought patterns and ways of being. It’s possible for these people to lead happy and emotionally fulfilling lives. 

If you or someone you know has or thinks they may have dependent personality disorder contact our team. Appointments are available with our psychologists and psychiatrists.