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Maladaptive Schemas in Personality Disorders: what are they?

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Personality is the uniqueness of the person, which is integrated according to Pervin (1998) in the organization. complex of cognitions, emotions and behaviors that gives direction and coherence to the individual's life. As the physical body is made up of structures, processes, genes and learning, it encompasses the effects of the past (memories) and the possibility of creating the present and the future.

When this uniqueness and optimal integration is altered, personality disorders arise, which will limit or generate instability/conflict in the individual both on a personal level and in the development of the different roles of her and functions. These alterations or disintegration of personality will give rise to a series of types of personality disorders. which are divided into three groups A, B and C.

On the other hand, each disorder is related to different maladaptive schemes, which were generated in childhood, but To make the schemes known in depth, I want to share information about the disorders so you can understand them. better.

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What is a personality disorder?

Personality disorders refer to a group of mental disorders where the person has a prolonged pattern of thinking, emotions and behaviors that are not common or normal within a culture or society. These interfere with the ability to perform normally in both interpersonal and interpersonal relationships and other contexts.

Sánchez and Ortiz (2007) mention Millon (1998) where the author states personality disorders in 8 areas or psychological perspectives such as: observable behaviors, interpersonal, cognitive style, defense mechanism, self-image, object representations, morphological organization and mood and temper.

All of them must be integrated in a unifying way for a functional personality, otherwise problems arise. disorders as the product of the disintegration or restrictions of each area that shapes the expression of each person. Personality disorders are divided into three groups A, B and C., of which are made up of certain types:

  • Group A: Schizoid, schizotypal, paranoid
  • B Group: Antisocial, borderline, narcissistic and histrionic
  • Group C: Avoidant, dependent and obsessive compulsive

Each of them has its characteristic or peculiarity that differentiates each of them. It is also very important to know some traits that will unite personality disorders, many of which will occur at the same time, as in cases of BPD, a person who suffers from this problem will present characteristics or symptoms of BPD added to the antisocial, narcissistic, dependent, personality traits. etc


What are maladaptive schemas?

Young and Klosko (2007) consider schemas to be those universal dysfunctional patterns which are persistent that are made up of memories, emotions, beliefs, thoughts, bodily sensations and expectations. These develop during childhood and adolescence and are maintained throughout life.. Which indicates that maladaptive behaviors are responses to the schemes since the schemes are the cause of the behaviors, but are not part of it.

On the other hand, López (2011) mentions Cid (2009) where the author calls them early maladaptive schemes because a complex, persistent and which are formed by memories, emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations that refer to self-analysis and interrelationships with the world abroad.

For Young, Klosko and Wheishaar (2003) The schemes are divided into negative schemes and positive schemes, as well as early or late schemes.. Likewise, the schemes usually have different degrees of severity (the number of times they are activated), rigidity and resistance to change (the origin, the situation, the representative figures and the amount of duration). These are the characteristics of maladaptive schemes:

  • They are a priori truths of both oneself and the environment, they are central structures of the self-concept.
  • They are self-perpetuating and very resistant to change, so they will prevail throughout life.
  • They are totally dysfunctional and destructive both for oneself and others.
  • They are activated by changes or environmental stimuli relevant to the schema or also by mood and biological states.
  • They are results of the interrelation of temperaments with harmful, painful and dysfunctional experiences with the most important or representative members in the early stages such as parents, family or caregivers.

What are personality disorders and their maladaptive schemas?

They are the following:

  • schizotypal: It generally presents the patterns of abandonment, imperfection, social isolation and insufficient self-control, etc.
  • Schizoid: They usually present social isolation, emotional deprivation, imperfection and shame, failure, among others.
  • paranoid: They are those who show a lot of distrust and abuse, vulnerability, negativity, among others.
  • Histrionic: they present abandonment and instability, seeking approval, insufficient self-control, etc.
  • Narcissistic: They have schemes of grandiosity, insufficient self-control, search for recognition and others.
  • Antisocial: They tend to have grandiosity and authorization, insufficient self-control and self-discipline, etc.
  • Bordering: they present abandonment and instability, distrust and abuse, dependency, negativity, insufficient self-control, failure, among others.
  • Avoidant: schemes of social isolation, imperfection and shame, negativism, etc. are presented.
  • Dependent: They present patterns of abandonment, dependency, vulnerability, emotional deprivation, among others.
  • Obsessive compulsive: It is characterized by presenting patterns of distrust, emotional deprivation, vulnerability, insufficient self-control, imperfection, etc.

The maladaptive schemas mentioned in the different types of personality disorders are those schemas that tend to occur most frequently. However, Each case is unique since having a maladaptive scheme will always be related to otherIn any case, it will also depend on the personality disorder and its severity.


What is the appropriate therapy for the therapeutic intervention of maladaptive schemas?

Without a doubt, schema therapy, created by Young, which is a novel and integrative therapy of other therapeutic models such as cognitive behavioral, Gestalt, psychodynamics, secure attachment, among others. The union of these models allows for a more comprehensive therapeutic approach, which is why positive effects are achieved in the different disorders whose origin is childhood trauma.

For everything already mentioned above, it can be concluded that personality disorders are the disintegration of the psychological areas mentioned by Millon.. These disorders will present a peculiarity depending on the group and type and in some personality disorders traits of other personality disorders may be present.

On the other hand, it is important to know that the cause of personality disorders is in two factors: endogenous and exogenous: exogenous causes are those that occur within the environment or environment of the individual (parents, caregivers, family, peers...), when this means of interrelation (child-parents) is not healthy or satisfactory, maladaptive schemes are generated and these in turn will give rise to different types of disorders of the personality.

Each disorder will present different maladaptive schemas which must be carried out with schema therapy, through a therapeutic approach, in where the therapist uses limited reparenting in order to satisfy some need of the “vulnerable child” that was not met in his or her childhood or early stage. As the depth of the maladaptive schemas is worked on, the patient/client reinterprets those experiences. traumatic and is recovering self-care, autonomy and independence, stability... and with it a new life where the healthy adult takes control of her life.

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