A little imagination goes a long way

Imagination is the ability to generate ideas, images, or concepts that are not necessarily present in reality. It enables us to think beyond our immediate surroundings, envisioning alternate possibilities and potential futures. Imagination has long been a subject of intrigue for philosophers, psychologists, and artists alike and by chance, I stumbled across an unlikely book by the thriller writer Lee Child which perfectly encapsulated the psychological benefits of imagination. In his book ‘The Hero’ (2019), best-selling author Lee Child argues that imagination and storytelling were essential for the survival and evolution of our prehistoric ancestors.

Imagination as a Survival Tool

Child (2019), provides a compelling argument that imagination and storytelling played a pivotal role in the survival and evolution of homosapiens. He asserts that prehistoric humans used their imaginative capacities to make the impossible seem possible, thus providing hope and instilling valuable lessons that ensured the continuity of the species. These lessons were passed down from generation to generation, allowing humans to adapt and overcome various challenges.

The ability to imagine potential threats and develop strategies to mitigate them has been essential in human evolution. This concept is supported by the Social Brain Hypothesis, which posits that the human brain evolved primarily to navigate complex social environments (Dunbar, 1998). Imagination enabled early humans to anticipate the actions and intentions of others, forming the basis for cooperation and competition within social groups (Dunbar, 1998). Furthermore, it allowed them to learn from past experiences and envision potential future scenarios, enhancing their ability to plan and adapt.

Imagination and the Development of Empathy

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, is a critical aspect of human social interaction. Engaging the imagination through storytelling and role-playing can foster empathy by allowing individuals to put themselves in another person’s shoes (Mar & Oatley, 2008). This process, known as ‘mental simulation,’ enables us to gain insight into the emotions, thoughts, and perspectives of others, fostering a greater sense of compassion and understanding.

In turn, empathy contributes to stronger social bonds, reduced aggression, and increased prosocial behavior (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987). Thus, the cultivation of imagination serves to promote a more harmonious and supportive society.

Imagination and Innovation

Imagination fuels creativity and innovation, driving progress and advancements in various fields, from science and technology to art and literature. The ability to think beyond the confines of the known and the familiar allows individuals to generate novel ideas, pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and achievement.

Many transformative inventions and discoveries in history have been the product of imaginative thinking. For example, Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity was inspired by his thought experiments, where he imagined riding a beam of light and observing the consequences (Isaacson, 2007). Similarly, technological innovations such as the internet, smartphones, and renewable energy sources can be traced back to the creative minds that dared to imagine a different future.

Innovation and creativity, driven by imagination, contribute to economic growth, job creation, and overall societal wellbeing. These advancements help to address pressing global issues, such as climate change, healthcare, and poverty alleviation (Florida, 2002).

Imagination and Psychological Wellbeing

Engaging the imagination through activities such as reading, writing, art, and play has been linked to improved psychological well-being. These creative pursuits can provide a sense of purpose, increase self-esteem, and enhance coping skills (Stuckey & Nobel, 2010).

Furthermore, imaginative activities can act as a form of emotional regulation, allowing individuals to express and process complex emotions in a healthy manner (Djikic et al., 2013). This emotional catharsis can lead to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, ultimately promoting mental health and resilience.


Imagination has been an essential component of human evolution, contributing to our survival and adaptation. The societal benefits of engaging the imagination are multifaceted, including the development of empathy, the promotion of innovation, and the enhancement of psychological well-being. By cultivating and nurturing our imaginative capacities, we can create a more compassionate, creative, and mentally healthy society. Encouraging individuals to engage in imaginative activities, whether through storytelling, art, or play, can have lasting positive effects on both personal well-being and collective progress. By recognizing and fostering the power of imagination, we can strive to build a better future for generations to come.


Child, L. (2019). The Hero. Penguin Books.

Dunbar, R. I. M. (1998). The social brain hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 6(5), 178-190.

Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. A. (1987). The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101(1), 91-119.

Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class: And how it’s transforming work, leisure, community, and everyday life. Basic Books.

Isaacson, W. (2007). Einstein: His Life and Universe. Simon & Schuster.

Mar, R. A., & Oatley, K. (2008). The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(3), 173-192.

Djikic, M., Oatley, K., & Carland, M. (2013). Genre or artistic merit: The effect of literature on personality. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(1), 38-46.

Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health: A review of current literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254-263.


The Joy and Sadness of Pets

Today, I want to share my personal experiences with the psychological benefits of keeping pets, delving into the heartwarming and sometimes bittersweet moments of keeping animal companions.

As a proud pet parent to various creatures over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my home with a delightful mix of animals, including hamsters, guinea pigs, fish, cats, dogs, and even chickens. Each of these lovely beings has taught me something new and enriched my life in countless ways. But lately, I’ve been reflecting on how pets can be such potent sources of mental and emotional support, especially in trying times.

Recently, I had to say goodbye to my last two chickens, Yoko and Ash, who have been moved to a friend’s field. Due to some unavoidable local construction work, the noise and disruption were causing them undue stress. While this relocation was planned and expected, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness as they settled into their new home. As much as I miss their clucks and the sight of them strutting around, I know they’re now in a calmer environment, which is ultimately what’s best for them.

Thankfully, I still have my sweet young cat, Star, who has been an incredible source of comfort during this time of change. My first job was in a zoo (yes, pretty cool) and I have always loved animals, I can attest to the fact that pets can provide us with some genuinely amazing psychological benefits. Here are a few key ways that our animal companions can positively impact our mental health:

  1. Stress Reduction: There’s something incredibly soothing about stroking a purring cat or snuggling with a dog. These simple interactions can lower our stress levels, reduce blood pressure, and even decrease cortisol, the stress hormone.
  2. Unconditional Love and Support: Pets don’t judge us, which can make it easier to open up and share our feelings with them. I’ve had my fair share of heart-to-heart conversations with Star (and the chickens, too!) and the bond we’ve formed has been instrumental in helping me navigate the ups and downs of life.
  3. Improved Mood: Spending time with pets can boost our mood by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters associated with happiness and well-being. There’s nothing quite like a wagging tail or a playful nuzzle to put a smile on our face and brighten even the gloomiest of days.
  4. Socialization and Companionship: Pets can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are crucial factors in maintaining good mental health.
  5. Sense of Purpose and Responsibility: Taking care of pets gives us a sense of purpose and a daily routine, which can be beneficial for our mental health. Feeding, grooming, and exercising our pets require us to engage in purposeful activities that can help us stay grounded and focused on the present.

I continue to adjust to life without chickens and now I’m considering venturing into beekeeping because animals truly are remarkable creatures that can heal our hearts and minds in ways we never thought possible. So here’s to our furry, feathered, and scaly friends, who help make our lives brighter and more meaningful, one buzz, wag, purr, or cluck at a time.


A little something for you.

Hobbies are great. They are something just for you, that you can do without having to get approval from partner, kids or friends. Okay, terms and conditions apply – you may need to negotiate time and any financial cost with the family. However, it is worth carving out a little time and space to pursue a hobby.

Hobbies are often considered as mere time killing activities that we do in our leisure time. In reality, hobbies are much more than that. They are a crucial aspect of our lives, which can help us in various ways. Hobbies are activities that we enjoy doing in our free time, and they can be anything from reading books to running, screen printing, car booting, or gaming. Engaging in hobbies can provide us with a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and joy that we might not find in our daily routine.

The importance of hobbies in our lives goes beyond mere entertainment. Engaging in hobbies can be an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental health and wellbeing, and enhance our overall quality of life. In fact, several studies have shown that hobbies have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Science and Technology, engaging in leisure activities, including hobbies, can significantly reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. The study found that people who engaged in leisure activities reported lower levels of stress and anxiety, improved mood, and increased feelings of happiness and contentment.

Furthermore, hobbies can provide a sense of accomplishment, which can boost our self-esteem and confidence. When we engage in hobbies that we enjoy, we can develop new skills, learn new things, and achieve goals that we set for ourselves. This sense of accomplishment can help us build a positive self-image and enhance our overall sense of wellbeing.

Hobbies can also provide an opportunity for socialization and connection with others. Many hobbies, such as team sports, book clubs, or art classes, involve interacting with other people who share similar interests. This social interaction can provide us with a sense of community and belonging, which can improve our mental health and overall wellbeing.

One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology found that engaging in hobbies that involve social interaction can help reduce symptoms of depression. The study found that people who participated in social hobbies reported significantly lower levels of depression than those who did not engage in social hobbies.

Additionally, hobbies can provide us with a break from our daily routine and allow us to recharge our batteries. Engaging in hobbies can be a form of self-care, which can help us maintain balance in our lives and prevent burnout. Taking time to do something that we enjoy can help us feel refreshed and rejuvenated, which can improve our overall mental health and wellbeing.

Hobbies are essential for our mental health and wellbeing. Engaging in hobbies can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost our self-esteem, promote relaxation, provide socialization opportunities, and allow us to recharge our batteries. With so many benefits, it’s essential to make time for hobbies in our daily lives. Whether it’s reading, painting, playing sports, or gardening, finding an activity that we enjoy can have a significant impact on our mental health and overall quality of life.


  1. Chieh-Yu, L., Chih-Hung, L., & Chien-Huei, K. (2015). Leisure activities, stress, and quality of life of occupational therapists. Journal of Occupational Science and Technology, 9(1), 25-30.
  2. Kim, E. S., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2011). Increased happiness and less depression: how are they related? Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(2), 267-281.
  3. Pressman, S. D., Matthews, K. A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Scheier, M., Baum, A., … & Moskowitz, J. T. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71

Spring into Action

Spring is often thought of as a time of renewal and new beginnings, making it the perfect time to review your life goals and make any necessary adjustments. While many people choose to set new goals and make resolutions at the beginning of the year, the spring season can offer a renewed energy and perspective that can be just as beneficial for goal-setting and achieving success.

One of the reasons that spring is an ideal time for reviewing and setting goals is that the days are getting longer and warmer. The increased sunlight and warmer temperatures can have a positive effect on our mood and energy levels, making us feel more motivated and inspired to take on new challenges. This can be especially beneficial for those who may have struggled to maintain their motivation during the darker and colder months of winter.

In addition to the positive effects of spring on our mood and energy levels, the season is also a time when nature is coming back to life. Trees and flowers are blooming, and the world around us is becoming more vibrant and colorful. This can serve as a reminder that anything is possible, and that we too can make new beginnings and achieve our goals.

As you begin to review your life goals this spring, it is important to take a holistic approach and consider all aspects of your life. This may include your career, relationships, health, and personal development. Think about what you want to achieve in each of these areas, and set specific, measurable, and achievable goals.

Harness the renewing power of spring by taking on a new challenge or learning a new skill. This could be something as simple as starting a new hobby, or something more ambitious like training for a marathon or taking on a leadership role in your community. Whatever it is, make sure it aligns with your overall life goals and is something you are truly passionate about.


Planning the Great Escape

We are getting closer and closer to spring. The sun is shining brighter and longer and it’s natural for thoughts to turn to summer. It might be a good time for you to start thinking about booking a summer holiday. There’s still enough time to save money or pay-off a holiday, and plenty of time to make the arrangements. Holidays are not just about getting away, they can have a huge impact on our mental health and wellbeing right from the point where you start thinking about it.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love the anticipation and build up to a holiday? Just thinking about it can lift our spirits and bring a smile to our faces. The excitement of planning the perfect trip, choosing the destination, the activities and the outfits to take with us, is all part of the fun.

Taking a break from our routine and spending time in a new environment can be incredibly refreshing. It allows us to disconnect from our daily lives, which can be especially important for those who have been working hard and feeling stressed. A change of scenery and some time to relax can help us return to our daily lives feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and with a clearer mind.

And, it doesn’t have to be a two-week luxurious all-inclusive holiday in a far-flung destination. A holiday can be as simple as a weekend stay with friends or family, a short cheap camping trip or an affordable overnight city stopover in a Travelodge or Premier Inn. These types of breaks can be just as effective in providing a much-needed mental health boost.

The benefits of taking a holiday are numerous. From reducing stress and anxiety levels to improving our sleep patterns and boosting our mood, holidays can help us feel more relaxed and at ease. Research has shown that spending time in nature can be especially beneficial for our mental wellbeing, so a camping trip or a hike in the countryside could be just what the doctor ordered.

If you’re feeling like you need a break, why not start planning a holiday today? Whether it’s a short trip with friends or family, or a week in the sun, taking a holiday can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Do whatever fits your budget, you don’t have to spend a fortune to experience the benefits.

So let’s plan an adventure! The sun is back and it’s the perfect time to book that trip. Remember, it’s not just the destination that counts, but also the anticipation and build-up to the trip, so enjoy every moment of the journey.


Natural Disasters and PTSD

The recent earthquake in the Middle East and the catastrophic loss of life and livelihood will have resulted in symptoms of stress, anxiety, grief, depression and panic for thousands upon thousands of individuals. I recently saw mention of a need for those individuals to be able to access CBT to treat their PTSD. A noble and well meant notion but I thought it might be worth discussing the misunderstanding behind this notion.

PTSD is a specific mental health condition that can develop after a person experiences a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster. While stress, grief, anxiety, depression and panic are common reactions to a traumatic event, they do not necessarily indicate the presence of PTSD.

PTSD is usually only diagnosed if symptoms persist for more than a month and cause significant distress or impairment in daily functioning. The symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive memories, flashbacks, or nightmares.
  • Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event, such as people, places, or activities.
  • Negative changes in mood and thinking, such as feeling emotionally numb, hopeless, or guilty.
  • Hyperarousal, such as being easily startled, feeling irritable, or having trouble sleeping.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Not everyone who experiences a trauma will find their initial distress develops into PTSD.

PTSD or not, how soon after a disaster should someone seek CBT? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the timing of when to seek CBT can vary depending on the individual and the specific circumstances of the disaster.

Immediately after a disaster, it is natural to experience some level of stress, grief, anxiety, depression or panic. This is a normal response to a traumatic event and is not necessarily a sign of PTSD. In the days and weeks following the disaster, most people will begin to recover on their own as they adjust to their new reality. This is the time when talking to a counsellor (which is different to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist) might be beneficial to support this period of adjustment.

If negative symptoms persist for more than a month and cause significant distress or impairment in daily functioning CBT might be beneficial. While CBT might work for an individual if undertaken within a month of the trauma, the reality is that in the aftermath of a trauma it might be impossible to complete the considerable amount of home-tasks required for CBT to be effective. Worse still, undertaking CBT treatment too soon risks causing further stress. This is why CBT might not be the most appropriate immediate response after a natural disaster.


Relight Your Fire

Being in a long-term relationship can be both wonderful and challenging. As the initial spark of attraction and excitement fades, it can be all too easy to fall into a routine and become complacent. However, reigniting passion in your relationship is possible, and there are many ways to do it:

  1. Prioritize Quality Time Together

One of the most important ways to reignite passion in your relationship is to spend quality time together. Make a conscious effort to prioritize each other, and do things together that you both enjoy. This could be anything from cooking dinner together, going on a weekend getaway, or simply taking a walk in the park. The key is to focus on the experience and make it about the two of you, not just one person.

  1. Communication is Key

Communication is key in any relationship, and it’s especially important in a long-term relationship. Take the time to listen to your partner, and really understand what they’re saying. Share your own thoughts and feelings, and be open to feedback from your partner. Communication can help you both feel heard and understood, which can go a long way in reigniting the passion in your relationship.

  1. Be Intimate

Intimacy is a crucial component of any relationship, and it can easily fade over time if you’re not careful. To reignite the passion in your relationship, make a conscious effort to be intimate with your partner. This doesn’t have to mean just physical intimacy, but also emotional and mental intimacy. Share your hopes and fears, and show your partner that you’re there for them.

  1. Get Creative

One of the best ways to reignite the passion in your relationship is to get creative. Try something new and exciting together, whether that’s a new hobby or a new type of cuisine. This will help you both break out of your routine, and add a new level of excitement and passion to your relationship.

  1. Practice Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for reigniting the passion in your relationship. Make a conscious effort to appreciate your partner for who they are, and all the things they bring to your relationship. Take the time to acknowledge the things you’re grateful for, and let your partner know how much they mean to you.

  1. Show Affection

Affection is another important component of a healthy relationship, and it’s important to show your partner affection in a variety of ways. Whether it’s a kiss on the cheek, a hug, or simply holding hands, make sure to show your partner that you care. This physical affection can help reignite the passion in your relationship, and help you both feel more connected.

  1. Work Through Issues Together

Every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s important to work through issues together in a healthy and positive way. If you’re facing a challenge in your relationship, make a conscious effort to work through it together, instead of pushing it aside. This can help you both grow closer, and help reignite the passion in your relationship.

Relighting passion in a long-term relationship requires effort and dedication. By prioritizing quality time together, practicing effective communication, being intimate, getting creative, practicing gratitude, showing affection, and working through issues together, you can reignite the passion in your relationship and keep it strong. Remember, relationships take work, but the effort is well worth it.


How to start a healthy relationship.

Dating can be an exciting time in someone’s life, filled with anticipation and new experiences. However, it can also be a confusing time, as you try to determine whether the person you’re seeing is the right fit for you. If you’re ready to move from dating to being in a relationship, it’s important to consider what you’re looking for and to be aware of any potential red flags.

What to Look for When Moving from Dating to a Relationship:

  1. Communication: Communication is key in any relationship, and it’s important to establish good communication habits early on. When you’re dating someone, pay attention to how they communicate with you and how you communicate with them. If you find that you’re comfortable talking to each other about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns, then this is a good sign that you’re both ready to take the next step.
  2. Compatibility: When you’re dating someone, it’s important to consider whether you’re compatible in terms of your values, interests, and lifestyle. Are you both on the same page when it comes to things like finances, family, and your future together? If you’re both aligned, then this is a good sign that your relationship has potential.
  3. Trust: Trust is another key ingredient in a healthy relationship. When you’re dating someone, pay attention to whether they’re trustworthy and whether you trust them. Do they keep their promises? Do they respect your privacy? If you find that you can trust each other, then this is a good sign that your relationship has potential.
  4. Emotional Support: A good relationship is one in which both partners feel emotionally supported by each other. When you’re dating someone, pay attention to whether they’re there for you when you need them, and whether you feel comfortable talking to them about your feelings. If you both feel emotionally supported by each other, then this is a good sign that your relationship has potential.

Possible Red Flags When Moving from Dating to a Relationship:

  • Disrespect: If your partner is disrespectful to you, your friends, or your family, this is a red flag. Disrespect can take many forms, from belittling comments to physical violence, and it’s important to take it seriously.
  • Jealousy: Jealousy can be a sign of insecurity in a relationship. If your partner is overly jealous or possessive, this can be a red flag. Jealousy can lead to controlling behavior and can make you feel trapped in your relationship.
  • Lies and Deception: If your partner lies to you or deceives you, this is a red flag. Lies and deception can erode trust and can damage your relationship. If you find that your partner is not truthful, it’s important to talk to them about your concerns and to determine whether you can trust them.
  • Abusive Behavior: If your partner is abusive towards you, this is a red flag. Abuse can take many forms, from physical violence to emotional abuse, and it’s important to get help if you’re in an abusive relationship.

Moving from dating to a relationship can be an exciting and confusing time. By looking for key things like good communication, compatibility, trust, and emotional support, you can determine whether your relationship has potential. However, it’s also important to be aware of red flags like disrespect, jealousy, lies and deception, and abusive behavior.

Transitioning from dating to a relationship can be a challenging and exciting journey, but it can also lead to a fulfilling and loving partnership. By being open and honest with each other, investing time and effort into the relationship, and seeking support when needed, couples can overcome obstacles and build a strong, lasting bond. With patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to one another, there is no limit to the love and happiness that a relationship can bring. So embrace the journey, be open to growth, and never stop working towards a stronger, more loving relationship.


Dealing With Difficulties

This week I’ve been in the uncomfortable position of having to have difficult conversations with complete strangers about land and building issues. Aside from illness and death; having to address conflict and assert yourself is one of the more unpleasant things in life that adults have to deal with.

Difficult conversations and conflicts are an inevitable part of personal and professional life. They can arise due to a variety of reasons, including differing opinions, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations. Handling these situations can be challenging, but it is essential to develop the skills to effectively communicate and resolve conflicts.

One of the keys to successfully navigating difficult conversations is to approach them with empathy and a willingness to understand the other person’s perspective. It is essential to listen actively and try to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. This can help to build trust and establish a foundation for a productive and respectful dialogue.

Another important factor in handling difficult conversations is to be assertive. This means being confident and clear in your communication, while also being respectful of others. It is important to stand up for your beliefs and values while also being open to compromise and finding a mutually beneficial solution.

When having a difficult conversation, it is also essential to prepare in advance. This means anticipating the potential challenges and having a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the conversation. It can also be helpful to practice what you want to say ahead of time and to identify any potential obstacles that could arise.

It is also important to establish clear boundaries in conflicts. This means setting limits on what you are willing to tolerate and what behaviors are unacceptable. Being clear about your boundaries can help to prevent misunderstandings and ensure that the conversation remains productive.

It can also be helpful to use “I” statements when communicating during a difficult conversation. This means expressing your feelings and opinions in a non-confrontational way. For example, instead of saying “you’re wrong,” you might say “I feel that we have different opinions on this issue.” This approach can help to diffuse tensions and keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand.

Finally, it is important to remain open and flexible in difficult conversations. This means being willing to listen and consider alternative perspectives, even if you do not agree with them. It is essential to find a solution that works for everyone involved and to maintain an open and respectful dialogue.

Handling difficult conversations and conflicts requires empathy, assertiveness, preparation, and flexibility. By developing these skills and approaching conflicts with a willingness to understand and compromise, you can effectively navigate even the most challenging situations. Although, it might still be an excruciatingly uncomfortable experience.


Considering Personality Disorders

I recently had the opportunity to attend an excellent training program on Personality Disorders, and I thought it might be useful to share some of the most interesting and beneficial information from the training.

Lets clarify how mental health clinicians classify symptoms and mental illness. In the UK we use two different books; the ICD11 and the DSM-5. In print or online the ICD-11 and the DSM-5 are essentially two different diagnostic systems used for classification of mental disorders.

  • ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision) is developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is used globally for health statistics and medical billing purposes.
  • DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition) on the other hand, is developed by the American Psychiatric Association and primarily used in the United States and other countries for clinical diagnosis and treatment planning.

Both systems share many similar diagnoses, but there are some differences in criteria, terminology and cultural emphasis. It’s important to note that while DSM-5 is widely used, ICD-11 is considered to have a more comprehensive and culturally sensitive approach to classification of mental disorders.

DSM- 5

DSM-5 sees personality disorders are a type of mental disorder that affects the way individuals think, feel and behave. It can be defined as an enduring pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that differ significantly from the expectations of an individual’s culture.

There are ten types of Personality Disorders recognized by the DSM-5 and they are:

  1. Paranoid Personality Disorder: Individuals with this disorder display a persistent distrust of others and are constantly on the lookout for any signs of deception, manipulation or exploitation. They also have difficulty in establishing close relationships with others and can be extremely suspicious of others’ motives.
  2. Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with this disorder display a marked disinterest in social relationships and prefer to lead a solitary life. They are often described as emotionally cold and aloof and are known to have difficulties expressing their emotions.
  3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by odd or eccentric behavior, distorted thinking, and a tendency to have unconventional beliefs. People with this disorder often struggle to form close relationships and experience intense discomfort in social situations.
  4. Antisocial Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a disregard for the rights of others, a tendency to engage in criminal behavior and a lack of guilt or remorse. Individuals with this disorder often have a history of lying, cheating and manipulating others.
  5. Borderline Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by intense and unstable emotions, impulsivity, and a tendency to engage in self-destructive behavior. People with this disorder often have a distorted self-image and struggle with intense feelings of abandonment.
  6. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power and success, and a lack of empathy for others. People with this disorder often have a sense of entitlement and a need for admiration and adoration.
  7. Avoidant Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of social inhibition and feelings of inadequacy. People with this disorder avoid social situations and are extremely self-conscious, fearing rejection and criticism from others.
  8. Dependent Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of submissive and clinging behavior that is related to an excessive need to be taken care of. People with this disorder struggle to make decisions on their own and often cling to others for support.
  9. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control. People with this disorder are often described as rigid, inflexible and struggle with the idea of delegating tasks.
  10. Histrionic Personality Disorder: This disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior. People with this disorder are often described as overly dramatic, seductive and tend to be overly concerned with their appearance.

It’s important to note that not everyone with a Personality Disorder will display all the symptoms associated with it. However, the presence of a significant number of symptoms can indicate a Personality Disorder.


The ICD-11 has recently changed the diagnostic criteria and now considers level of severity of personality disorder and the pattern of personality disorder from the 6 patterns listed below:

Patterns of Personality Disorder

These are core features to look for. Not all features will be present in every person all the time, and there is no specific recommended number of these symptoms to qualify for a diagnosis.

Borderline Pattern (PDBP)

  • Pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects
  • Marked impulsivity
  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
  • Identity disturbance (markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self)
  • Rash behavior in states of high negative affect, leading to potentially self-damaging behaviors
  • Recurrent episodes of self-harm
  • Emotional instability due to marked reactivity of mood
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
  • Transient dissociative symptoms or psychotic-like features in situations of high affective arousal

Negative Affectivity Pattern

  • Broad range of negative emotions with a frequency and intensity out of proportion to the situation
  • Emotional lability and poor emotion regulation
  • Negativistic attitudes, low self-esteem, and self-confidence
  • Mistrustfulness

Detachment Pattern

  • Social detachment (avoidance of social interactions, lack of friendships, and avoidance of intimacy)
  • Emotional detachment (reserve, aloofness, and limited emotional expression and experience)

Dissociality Pattern

  • Self-centeredness (e.g., sense of entitlement, expectation of admiration, attention-seeking behaviors, concern for one’s own needs, desires, and comfort, not others)
  • Lack of empathy (e.g., indifference to consequences of actions on others, deceptive, manipulative, exploitative, callousness, ruthless in achieving goals)

Disinhibition Pattern

  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Irresponsibility
  • Recklessness
  • Lack of planning

Anankastia Pattern

  • Perfectionism (e.g., concern with social rules, obligations, norms of right and wrong, meticulous attention to detail, rigid routines, hyper-scheduling, planfulness, emphasis on organization, orderliness, and neatness)
  • Emotional and behavioral constraint (e.g., rigid control over emotional expression, stubbornness, inflexibility, risk-avoidance, perseveration, deliberativeness)

Comparing and analysing the two different diagnostic criteria is not something I will attempt in a blog post, it is enough to be aware of the differences. However, this article by Roger T. Mulder (2021) provides further reading on the subject.

Mulder, R. T. (2021). ICD-11 Personality Disorders: Utility and Implications of the New Model. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 655548. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.655548

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis and treatment of personality disorders can have a significant impact on the well-being of affected individuals. A proper diagnosis can provide a clear understanding of the difficulties being faced, leading to appropriate treatment and a clearer path for recovery. Treatment can help individuals manage their symptoms, improve their relationships, and increase their overall quality of life. The process of diagnosis and treatment can also bring a sense of relief, as individuals feel less alone and have more realistic expectations for their future. By receiving a proper diagnosis and engaging in effective treatment, individuals with personality disorders can work towards leading fulfilling and satisfying lives.

It’s worth mentioning that studies have shown that there is a strong link between childhood trauma and the development of personality disorders. Childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, and abandonment can lead to the development of maladaptive coping mechanisms and patterns of behavior that persist into adulthood. I will side-step discussion around the role of trauma in personality disorders but it is something for clinicians to consider. However, please avoid assumptions; trauma is not an automatic precursor for developing a personality disorder and personality disorder is not always indicative of past trauma.

The diagnosis of a personality disorder can have both advantages and disadvantages for an individual. On one hand, it offers a structure for comprehending one’s difficulties and can lead to appropriate treatment. It can also provide a sense of belonging and help individuals understand what to expect in terms of progress. However, the diagnosis can also be viewed as a label rather than a true understanding of the individual. It may also restrict access to the right treatment and put an emphasis on the person’s shortcomings rather than past experiences and current relationships. Additionally, the broad definition of personality disorders can result in misunderstandings.

Treatment for Personality Disorders can involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Psychotherapy is the primary form of treatment for Personality Disorders and can involve a variety of approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT can be effective in treating personality disorders by helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that maintain their disorder.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of CBT that emphasizes the balance between change and acceptance. DBT can be useful in treating personality disorders by teaching individuals coping skills to regulate their emotions, manage interpersonal relationships, and reduce self-harm behaviors.

Psychodynamic Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on unconscious thoughts and past experiences that may be impacting current behaviors and relationships. Psychodynamic therapy can be helpful in treating personality disorders by exploring the unconscious motivations and conflicts that contribute to the development and maintenance of the disorder. The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to increase the patient’s self-awareness and improve their ability to manage their thoughts, behaviors, and relationships.

Working with people living with a personality disorder

Working with people with personality disorders can present unique challenges in terms of interpersonal difficulties. Some common behaviors that may be observed include:

Fear of abandonment: Clients may express a strong fear of being abandoned or left alone, which can lead to excessive demands for attention and reassurance.

Clients who are ambivalent or disengaged: Some clients may withdraw from support or disengage from therapy just as they are starting to make progress. This can be a defense mechanism to avoid being “rejected.”

Intense relationships: People with personality disorders may form intense relationships with their therapists, idealizing them or becoming overly familiar. They may also make demands that are outside of the therapist’s role, such as requesting more time or asking for things that go beyond their professional capacity.

Clingy or dependent behavior: Clients may become overly dependent on their therapist, requesting more frequent sessions or longer appointments. They may also express feelings of emptiness or dissatisfaction with the support they receive.

Rejecting behavior: On the other hand, clients may reject their therapist’s help and support, expressing dissatisfaction with their efforts and calling into question their competence.

In order to effectively work with clients with personality disorders, it is essential to maintain clear and consistent boundaries. As a practitioner, you have a role to play in modeling healthy and predictable boundaries for your clients, who may have experienced inconsistent or traumatic boundary violations in the past. However, maintaining these boundaries can be challenging, given the powerful emotions that can be generated in both the client and the practitioner.