Favorite Personality Disorders

  1. So, I was goofing around on another thread and reminded myself of a time, all those years ago in nursing school (well, three years ago) when, in psych, my class was divided into groups and we were each assigned a personality disorder to depict in a little skit. Right off, a nice break from the usual assignments, but my group was assigned Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and of course I was the star.

    The thing that really stuck with me was, it was one of the most liberating moments of my life.

    So, I pose the question to my esteemed colleagues: If you had to have a personality disorder (or, I suppose, any other mental illness), which would you prefer?

    Please note: I'm honestly not trying to make light of mental illness, here. I would not seriously choose to spend the rest of my life making the people who love me miserable, or struggling against the tendency to do so. But it was fun, just for an hour, living "larger than life," perhaps because in the real world I occassionally feel "smaller than life." Know what I mean?
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   leslie :-D
    just for one day, i'd love to be a histrionic.
    cool, calm, professional, is for the birds.

    leslie
  4. by   mercyteapot
    Yes, I suppose it would be fun to pretend you had a mental illness for an hour, because if you were just pretending, you wouldn't be suffering much, would you? I would no more declare a favorite mental illness than I would choose a favorite physical one.
  5. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from mercyteapot
    Yes, I suppose it would be fun to pretend you had a mental illness for an hour, because if you were just pretending, you wouldn't be suffering much, would you? I would no more declare a favorite mental illness than I would choose a favorite physical one.
    i do understand mental disability, as does my daughter, who receives special ed.
    sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

    leslie
  6. by   nursemike
    Quote from mercyteapot
    Yes, I suppose it would be fun to pretend you had a mental illness for an hour, because if you were just pretending, you wouldn't be suffering much, would you? I would no more declare a favorite mental illness than I would choose a favorite physical one.
    Honestly not trying to make light of anyone else's pain. I spent the better part of my third decade in a recurring depression, had major anxiety to the point of physical symptoms in nursing school and my first months as a nurse--neither of which compares to some of the afflictions I've seen.

    Sorry if I came across as lacking empathy for those who are truly ill.

    Still, if I could have OCD just long enough to get my housework caught up, or a mild case of anorexia nervosa--just temporarily--I might be tempted. Likewise, I wouldn't really choose to be narcissistic, even though I probably am a little self-absorbed (introspective). It would just be nice, sometimes, not to have to work at being assertive.
    Last edit by nursemike on Oct 31, '07
  7. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from nursemike
    Honestly not trying to make light of anyone else's pain. I spent the better part of my third decade in a recurring depression, had major anxiety to the point of physical symptoms in nursing school and my first months as a nurse--neither of which compares to some of the afflictions I've seen.

    Sorry if I came across as lacking empathy for those who are truly ill.

    Still, if I could have OCD just long enough to get my housework caught up, or a mild case of anorexia nervosa--just temporarily--I might be tempted. Likewise, I wouldn't really choose to be narcissistic, even though I probably am a little self-absorbed (introspective). It would just be nice, sometimes, not to have to work at being assertive.
    No way, no how would I want to be anorexic/bulimic . . .for almost 24 hours now I've had the tummy flu and it ain't pretty.

    Well, I think one of the things that surprised me as a new nurse was reading doctor's progress notes or H&P's describing women who are sure they are pregnant and they aren't as "hysterical".

    steph
  8. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from earle58
    i do understand mental disability, as does my daughter, who receives special ed.
    sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

    leslie
    Laugh at what? The absurdity of the situation in which you occasionally find yourself? Yes. I once was struggling so hard to get my son into his car seat that the woman parked next to me kept coming back by to make sure I wasn't beating him (he was screaming, rather, let's say, loudly). After her third or fourth pass by, I just started laughing hysterically.

    OTOH, I wouldn't pretend to have autism. It doesn't strike as something one can pretend to have. As far as I'm concerned, the small group activity was a stupid assignment. What were the students supposed to learn from it?
  9. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from mercyteapot
    Laugh at what? The absurdity of the situation in which you occasionally find yourself? Yes. I once was struggling so hard to get my son into his car seat that the woman parked next to me kept coming back by to make sure I wasn't beating him (he was screaming, rather, let's say, loudly). After her third or fourth pass by, I just started laughing hysterically.

    OTOH, I wouldn't pretend to have autism. It doesn't strike as something one can pretend to have. As far as I'm concerned, the small group activity was a stupid assignment. What were the students supposed to learn from it?
    seriously, i am so burnt now, i didn't even notice the part in mike's post, about it being a class assignment.
    i only read/saw, what mental illness would you be?

    in nsg school, we did have to be physically handicapped.
    some were blind, others were non-ambulatory, others were physically disfigured.
    it was all role playing, in hopes we would better empathize.
    i would like to think the same goals were set, in mike's class...
    although, i think it's easier or more conducive to downplay the severe barriers w/mental illness.
    and yes, i do laugh alot about my own disability and try to encourage my dd to do the same.
    it's not a gutteral laugh, but one of, "if i didn't laugh, i'd cry".
    then of course, there's always a nurse's warped humor, which i definitely have.

    anyway, if mike's class researched the various mental disorders and acted them out accordingly, one could really get a glimpse of the struggles that come w/these disorders.
    and yeah.
    you gotta laugh.
    gotta.

    leslie
  10. by   mercyteapot
    I facilitate a sibling support group and have run several different disability awareness workshops with hands on activities. It works for physical disabilities, because there are tangible barriers that people without disabilities can experience. Disorders of the psyche don't lend themselves to such activities, though. How do you simulate what it feels like to be so consumed with anxiety that you become inert? Or so incapacitated by depression that dying seems preferable to living?

    Even if it were possible to design an activity to raise some awareness about how these disorders feel, I still find the concept of imagining having one of them "just for a while", until, presumably they serve their purpose offensive. You never hear anyone saying they'd like to have cancer for just long enough to lose 20 pounds, do you?
  11. by   nursemike
    Quote from mercyteapot
    I facilitate a sibling support group and have run several different disability awareness workshops with hands on activities. It works for physical disabilities, because there are tangible barriers that people without disabilities can experience. Disorders of the psyche don't lend themselves to such activities, though. How do you simulate what it feels like to be so consumed with anxiety that you become inert? Or so incapacitated by depression that dying seems preferable to living?

    Even if it were possible to design an activity to raise some awareness about how these disorders feel, I still find the concept of imagining having one of them "just for a while", until, presumably they serve their purpose offensive. You never hear anyone saying they'd like to have cancer for just long enough to lose 20 pounds, do you?
    I'm sorry you were offended. I can only defend the classroom assignment based upon what I got from it. Basically, we researched various personality disorders and put on a skit that summarized our research. On the whole, I don't think it was the most useful time spent in nursing school, nor did it remotely compare to psych clinicals. I did learn some interesting things about the disorder we portrayed. I found a fascinating website by a man afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder--sorry, I don't recall the link, but it shouldn't be hard to Google. Truly, he did not seem to be having a lot of fun with it.

    My intent, here, and I'll admit it was at least partly in jest, was to say that someone like me, dealing with my own minor neuroses, can see enviable attributes in the afflictions of others. Taken literally, you're right--it would be utterly ridiculous to say, "I wish I were agoraphobic."
    I've experienced depression, and the only real advantage I can see to having done that is developing a degree of empathy with others going through it. I'll never tell someone they've just got to "snap out of it."
    I might, if the circumstances seem appropriate, remark that the turning point for me seemed to be getting thoroughly pissed-off at the things that seemed to be depressing me, but I tend to think that might only be effective in a minority of milder cases. I might tell someone crippled with anxiety that talking your fears out with someone who understands can be therapeutic.

    Again, I'm sorry my sense of humor seemed insensitive. That happens to me, sometimes, and it's ironic, because I'm actually very sensitive.
    I do tend to find a lot of life funny; I thinks it's my way of coping, and it must be reasonably effective, since I'm generally pretty happy. I am often, but not always, the butt of my own humor--not because I hate myself, but simply because I'm most often there to catch myself doing funny things.

    I don't mean this as a personal attack in any way--not to you or to Art Buchwald--but your sig line kind of depresses me. It seems like he's saying life has gotten so absurd that it isn't even funny, any more. I purely love to smile at the beauty of the "What is Love?" thread. I'm moved to tears by some of the posts on the "Male Nurse Crying" thread. I'm saddened, inspired, and outraged by some of the things I have seen in this world, but a lot of it makes me chuckle, or even guffaw.

    Finally--and, again, not to be argumentative--I've met cancer patients who've said, "Well, at least I'm finally losing some weight..." or words to that effect.
  12. by   zuzi
    Nursemike trying to not be rude, I will (whishing to helping you to not mess your mind) and telling you that science and good sense are two different notions. Happy to discuss with you always about any personality disorder that you are interested but only on scientific bases.
  13. by   canoehead
    I want to be mildly manic, that happy euphoria stage before the hallucinations and pain. I once hallucinated for a day (drug induced) and it was my own little freaky world. Rough day because the floor was too fecking bumpy to walk comfortably, and the walls were moving in and out. Plus I couldn't read safety signs with all that movement...I wanted to be a responsible nutcase, heehee.
  14. by   Thunderwolf
    nursemike, thank you for this thread of discussion. I certainly can see both sides of the arguements elaborated on this thread. The thing about mental/emotional illnesses (personality disorders included) is that folks may have a tendency NOT to talk about them due to shame or fear. Education and discussion are the keys to raising our understanding and empathy about them. So, they do need discussed from time to time. Of course, this needs to be done in a way which allows safe dialogs to occur. Personality disorders are tremendously anxiety producing. And depending upon which personality disorder will dictate who will have the most anxiety...the patient and/or loved ones. Antisocial personality disorders tend not to exhibit much anxiety because of their lack of empathy inherent in the disorder...but often create lots of anxieties for loved ones. The Obsessive Compulsive personality disorder lives in a daily basis of anxiety and so too do their loved ones who are at their wits end trying to adapt around that lifestyle. Narcissistic personality disorders tend to experience their anxieties when others do not see "their importance" to the world and then become righteously angry because of it....it is not easy being a loved one walking on eggshells or living with the temper tantrums. Borderline personality disorders are fraught with lots of anxieties much due to fear of feeling out of emotional control or others having too much of it...chaos may be chaos and uncomfortable, but at least it is familiar....putting them at additional risk of being abandoned by loved ones because they just can't handle it any more...which just escalates the Borderline person's fear factor and acting out even more....a vicious cycle. So, mikenurse, at the very least, I wish to commend you for attempting a dialog regarding this type of discussion. As care givers, folks struggling with personality disorders (as our patients) can be such a mysterious thing at times, if not energy draining...so we need to understand them in order to best provide care to them. Persons with personality disorders do not only frequent our psych units, but our medical and med-surg floors as well. We got to know a little bit about them....if not to preserve our own sanities. Also, just like any mental or emotional illness, there are degrees of severity....not all, for example, Histrionic personality disorders are alike in presentation or severity....it is in degrees....just like depression....mild, moderate, and severe. Folks forget this little pearl. And lastly, I highly commend you, nursemike, for sharing your own heart in complete sincerity that you meant no offense. I totally believe you in that. Offensive is not your way....I have read your various posts on the board...your sincerity often stands out.
    Last edit by Thunderwolf on Nov 2, '07

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