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Wow, I just had this discussion. Personality Disorders are diagnosable conditions according to the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I am not alone in believing that all of us have a little bit of everything when it comes to our emotions and behavior. I am also not alone in believing that not every emotion and behavior needs to have a label.

In general, I do my best to diagnose “on the low side”. For example: Never diagnose someone under 18 with a personality disorder because there are all kinds of things going on in your brain as kids and teenagers. Chances are, you are going to outgrow most of what you think by adulthood anyway.

A diagnosis is only useful if it helps in treatment. For example, if someone would benefit from the use of antidepressants, then a diagnosis of some sort of depression is needed to justify the prescription. However, there is no pill for a personality disorder. More importantly, I fear when someone is diagnosed with a personality disorder, it can become an excuse for bad behavior.

Everyone has a little bit of everything, but it is only noteworthy (diagnosable) if it interferes significantly with one or more areas of your life: i.e. relationships, education, social interaction, home life, or work. Society shouldn’t have anything to do with a diagnosis. What is good for me in my personal relationship may be considered a dysfunctional mess to someone else. As long as you are not experiencing emotions that interfere with your life as you would like to live or the rights of others, then no diagnosis. The psychologist’s, as well as society’s, opinion is not relevant.

I don’t know if my client was being passive aggressive or not. Maybe he honestly wanted to go to a guy who wrote a book. Maybe he just didn’t like me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Maybe he just didn’t want to go to counseling. Who knows. All I know is that my reaction caused my emotions to peak about my own vulnerabilities. Did it interfere with my life? No, it made me step back and gain insight. Definitely not diagnosable.

I would love to never diagnose and just focus on finding joy in this moment forward; however, insurance companies tend to frown on (not pay for) that approach.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful question!

Judy

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