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Self-Esteem And The Gift of Challenging People: Part Three

“The healthy man doe not torture others. Generally, it is the tortured who turn into torturers.”—Carl Jung

In the previous two blogs we have been discussing self-esteem and the gift of challenging people. In the first blog, we looked at the characteristics of challenging people who may be in your life. In part two, we began looking at the types of challenging people. This blog will continue with the discussion around types of challenging folks.

This is not intended for readers to use to diagnose self or others. It can be useful information as a beginning point to understand why some people may be more difficult for you and others. We will continue with this discussion and cover what you can do about being in a relationship with someone who is challenging. We don’t want to give up on others just because it may be a challenge.

The Schizotypal Personality

This personality is discussed in the DSM-IV-TR as one characterized by “a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.”

This type of personality is known for having superstitious or paranormal preoccupation that is “outside the norms of their subculture.” This personality may believe he has special powers or psychic abilities or magical control. Voices may be heard murmuring their name and they may engage in magical rituals. Their speech may be vague, digressive, and include unusual or idiosyncratic phrasing.

One of the best film examples of this personality disorder is Taxi Driver, staring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle. Travis is an almost perfect textbook schizotypal personality. As a note of caution: Most schizotypal personality types are not dangerous. This was portrayed differently in this film.

The Antisocial Personality

Three films come to mind when looking at the antisocial personality disorder. These are Cape Fear, The Silence of the Lambs, and Reservoir Dogs. One with a female antagonist is The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.

At times, the terms “psychopath” or “sociopath” are used interchangeably with the antisocial personality disorder. This category is one of the most popular for Hollywood to draw from for films. People with antisocial personality disorder display a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others. They violate the rights of others.

Lying and manipulation are the cornerstones of this personality type. They may have a history of arrest for theft or they may pursue illegal occupations. The antisocial personality disregards the rights and feelings of others. Some with this personality may be impulsive and make decisions on the spur of the moment. They may therefore experience frequent changes in job, residence, or relationships. They may be involved in physical assaults such as spousal abuse, and high-risk sexual involvements. Being irresponsible is another hallmark of this personality type.

The Avoidant Personality

The Remains of the Day with Anthony Hopkins is an example of this personality type. Some sources note it may also be an example of the schizoid personality. Persons with the avoidant personality possess the total inability to engage another, to overcome social inhibitions, and to have adequate feelings and self-esteem. People with this type of personality avoid work, school, and others for fear of being criticized or rejected. They may decline promotions out of fear that a more visible role may lead to criticism. There is considerable fear involved with becoming intimate or being in intimate relationships, again for fears around being ridiculed or shamed.

It is a terribly painful type of personality. Avoidant personality types do not take risks; if they do, they do so reluctantly. They do not tend to have large social networks. They spend time fantasizing about relationships due to the fact that they are so very lonely. They want affection and acceptance, but avoid opportunities for the very thing they desire. The avoidant personality may have begun as shyness (which is not a disorder) that worsened with time.

The Dependent Personality

The DSM-IV-TR notes that a person with dependent personality needs to be taken care of and these needs become exaggerated to the point that the person becomes submissive and clinging. In short order, fears develop around separation.

The film, Single White Female is an example of this personality disorder. Everyday decisions are fraught with indecision for the person with this personality. An enormous amount of reassurance and advice from others is necessary when it comes to everyday activities such as what to ear, what to eat, or whether it looks like rain.

Someone with this type of personality is usually dependent on a parent or spouse and must confer about jobs, salary, where to live, and who they can have as friends. It is understandably difficult for someone with this personality to embark on creative paths or to take the initiative to create projects. They will often wait for the approval or help of another and they have low confidence in themselves.

Due to the dependent state of their relationships with others, they may not develop independent living skills. The dependent personality may put himself at risk by having such a high need for caretaking, because it means they will do almost anything to obtain the help they feel they need. Others can obviously exploit this type of person.

Ok, hang in there with me and we will discuss some of the more known personality disorders such as the Borderline Personality, the Narcissistic Personality, and the Histrionic Personality. We will also be discussing what you can do to help your own self-esteem, while perhaps helping your challenging person.

Take care,

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo

Excerpts used in this blog were taken from The Everything Guide to Self-Esteem by Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo

Self-Esteem And The Gift of Challenging People: Part Three

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, Ph.D.

Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo, Ph.D. works in private practice as a psychotherapist. Nanette works with children, adults, adolescents, couples, and families. She also works as a consultant with public and private schools on issues ranging from suicide and violence prevention to topics on mental health issues affecting youth. She is the author of Entering Adulthood: Understanding Depression and Suicide, 1990,The Everything Self-Esteem Book with CD, 2011, and A Comparative Case Study of the Elderly Women Beggars of Central Mexico, 2006. She frequently appears on radio and television covering community mental health topics such as the Arizona wild fires in the summer of 2011 and the Gabrielle Gifford shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

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APA Reference
Burton Mongelluzzo, N. (2012). Self-Esteem And The Gift of Challenging People: Part Three. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Mar 2012
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