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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Diagnosing Personality Disorder

 hawt_p1nk - Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:50 pm

I'm a medic in the army and I'm being chaptered out for a wrongful diagnosis of "uncharacterized personality disorder." I'm being assigned an attorney and presenting before a board to convince them that I'm not a fruit cup.

I'm curious as to how someone makes a diagnosis of personality disorder. I know that you have to meet some criteria, but what criteria? Can a doctor diagnose you with personality disorder after talking to you for twenty minutes? Can you have a normal life and upbringing and then suddenly, taa-da!, personality disorder?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Fri May 29, 2009 5:46 pm

Hello, hawt_p1nk,

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders gives the general diagnostic criteria for diagnosing a personality disorder:
A) An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. This pattern is manifested in two or more of the following areas:
1) cognition (that is, ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people and events).
2)affectivity (that is, the range, intensity, lability and appropriateness of emotional response).
3)interpersonal functioning.
4)impulse control.
B) The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.
C) The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D) The pattern is stable and of long duration and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.
E) The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.
F) The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (for example, a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (for example, head trauma).

And so, to answer your other questions, no, 20 minutes is not an adequate evaluation period. No such diagnosis should be made without an extensive medical and personal history, followed by any testing that is needed for clarity.
Generally, a person does not have a "ta-da" event resulting in a personality disorder.
The diagnosis given to you, of "uncharacterized personality disorder" may be assigned as Personality Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified, when the individual's personality pattern meets the general criteria for a Personality Disorder and traits of several different Personality Disorders are present, but the criteria for any specific disorder are not met, or the individual's personality pattern meets the general criteria for a Personality Disorder, but the individual is considered to have a Personality Disorder that is not included in the specific list of Classifications.

I hope very much that this information is helpful to you.

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