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Normal Personality & Abnormal Personal Disorder; Similarities and Differences

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Normal Personality and Abnormal Personal Disorder; Similarities and Differences

First and foremost, I will start with the definition of some terms for a better understanding of our subject matter (Normal Personality and Abnormal Personal Disorder).

Table of Contents


    I will define personality as a composite of mental abilities, interests, attitudes, temperaments and other variables characterizing thoughts, feelings and behaviour. To a layman, personality means a trait possessed by some people unlike others, personality is a combination of characteristics or qualities that forms an individual distinctive character. Atkinson and Hilgard (1983) see personality as the charistic pattern of behaviour and modes of thinking that determines a persons adjustment to the environment. It is the whole enduring attributes of a man that makes him unique and individualistic.

    However, when psychologists talk about personality, they are concerned with individual differences, they therefore define personality based on inner and/or external qualities or behaviour of an individual. For example, Gordon Allport (1887 – 1968) in 1937 gave a systematic definition of personality. He emphasized inner qualities of an individual although he mentioned external qualities. According to him, personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychophysical systems that determines his unique adjustments to his environment.

    Component Parts of this definition are:

    a. Dynamic Organization: which implies that personality is not constant but changes over time.
    b. Psychological: which refers to habits, attitudes and traits.
    c. Characteristics: which implies uniqueness of each individuals behaviour
    d. Behaviour and thought which refers to anything an individual does for survival and growth.


    Many factors determine our personality and some of them include.
    i. Biological factors
    ii. Home influences
    iii. Culture
    iv. School
    v. Psychological trauma
    vi. Situational factors

    Basically and essentially, a personality of an individual can be normal or abnormal.


    Normal personality is a flexible adaptive patterns or ways of behaving or relating to oneself and ones environment. It is a condition characterized by normal thoughts, feelings and behavours. Normal personality is used to describe individual behaviour that conforms to the most common behaviour in the society known as conformity. It varies by persona, time, place, culture and situation. It changes along with changing societal standars and norms. Normal personality is often only recognized in contrast to abnormality. For example, a human being with normal personality can work with satisfaction, if it is a descent work and he can relax when he is not working. He enjoys play. In fact, he enjoys himself most of the time, even if he is only talking to a friend or watching television. But probably, the defining quality of a normal person is a kind of flexibility that allows him to adapt to the different demands and stresses that life imposes upon him. He can tolerate conflict and frustration and loneliness to some extent. He is stressful at work and with people and within his family to some extent.

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    Some normal personality traits include;

    1. Extrovert
    2. Sociable
    3. Friendly
    4. Self disciplined
    5. Reliable
    6. Resourceful
    7. Hardworking
    8. Persevering
    9. Lovable
    10. Energetic
    11. Articulate
    12. Affectionate
    13. Modest
    14. Humble
    15. Polite
    16. Tactful
    17. Planner
    18. Unselfish
    19. Sensitive
    20. Considerate
    21. Kind
    22. Loyal
    23. Being relaxed
    24. Self healing
    25. Helpful


    Abnormal personality disorder is a long standing, inflexible, maladaptive patterns or ways of behaving or relating to oneself and ones environment. According to Adler (1930), personality disorder is a negative style of life. Personality disorders comprises of deeply ingrained and enduring behavioural patterns, manifesting themselves as inflexible responses to a broad range of personal and social situations. World Health Organization (1993) added that personality disorder represent either extreme or significant deviations from the ways average individual in a given culture perceives, things, feels and particularly relates to others. Researches carried out showed that personality disorders appear in childhood or adolescence but continue into adulthood.


    The following are the diagnostic guidelines that must be met before a diagnosis of personality disorder is made:
    i. Markedly disharmonious attitudes and behaviour involving usually control areas of functioning such as affectivity, arousal, impulse control, ways of perceiving and thinking and style of relating to others.

    ii. The abnormal behavioural pattern is enduring, long lasting and not limited to episodes of mental illness.

    iii. The abnormal behaviour pattern is pervasive and clearly maladaptive to abroad range of personal and social situations.

    iv. The above manifestations always appear during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood.

    v. The disorder leads to considerable personal distress but this may only become apparent later in its course.

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    vi. The disorder is usually but not invariably associated with significant problems in occupations and social per


    1. Paranoid personality disorders
    2. Schizoid personality disorder
    3. Schizotypal personality disorder
    4. Histrionic personality disorder
    5. Narcissistic personality disorder
    6. Avoidant personality disorder
    7. Antis-social personality disorder
    8. Borderline personality disorder
    9. Dependent personality disorder
    10. Anankastic (obsessive-compulsive personality disorder


    Paraniod personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive distrust of others, including even friends, family and partner. As a result, the person is guarded and suspicious and constantly on the lookout for clues or suggestions to validate his fears.


    A person with this disorder is detached and aloof and prone to introspection and fantasy. He has no desire for sexual norms and contentious and lack emotional response.


    People with this disorder are characterized by oddities of appearance, behaviour and speech and unusual perceptual experiences and abnormalities of thinking similar to those seen in schizophrenia.


    This disorder is characterized by a callous unconcern for the feelings of others. The person disregards social rules and obligations is irritable and aggressive, acts impulsively, lacks guilt, and fails to learn from experience.


    Here, the person essentially lacks a sense of self and as a result, experiences feelings of emptiness and fears of abandonment. There is outbursts of anger and violence, emotional instability, impulsive behaviour, suicidal threats and acts of self-harm.


    People with histronic personality disorder lack a sense of self worth and depend for their wellbeing on attracting the attention and approval of others.


    Here, the person has an extreme feelings of self-importance, a sense of entitlement and a need to be admired. He is envious of others and expects them to be same of him.


    People with avoidant personality disorder are socially unappealing, or inferior and constantly fear being embarrassed, criticized or rejected. They avoid meeting others unless they are certain of being liked, and are restrained even in their intimate relationships.


    This is characterized by a lack of self-confidence and an excessive need to be looked after. The person needs a lot of help in making everyday decisions and surrenders important life decisions to the care of others.


    This is characterized by excessive preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization or schedules, perfectionism so extreme that it prevents a task from being completed; and devotion to work and productivity: at the expense of leisure.


    These various treatments are used on personality disorders which includes;
    a. Behaviour modification such as cognitive methods and desensitization
    b. Assertive training
    c. Antianxiety medications
    d. Establishment of emphatic relationship with the client by the therapist

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    e. Therapeutic alliance in which the therapist agrees with the client that the world is a threatening place at one time.


    1. Biological causes: its based on dopamine abnormal activities
    2. Environmental factors: early childhood trauma, child abuse and neglect
    3. Over parental protection.


    1. Both traits, habits and attitudes
    2. Both appear in childhood or adolescence but continue into adulthood.
    3. Both are essentially innate and hereditary
    4. Both has its foundation laid at home, where socialization is made at home with parents, siblings e.t.c.
    5. Both personalities are being influenced by culture because an individuals’ cultural membership prescribes his do’s and don’ts which eventually determine his personality make-up.
    6. The school environment influences both which provides the basis from which the child finds his bearings and assesses his potentials both for academic growth and personality developments
    7. Both personalities are determined by the situation we find ourselves.


    1. Normal personality is characterized by normal thoughts, feelings and behaviours whereas abnormal personality disorder is characterized by inflexible, maladaptive patters or ways of behaving or relating to oneself and ones environment.
    2. Abnormal personality is a positive style of life which abnormal personality disorder is a negative style of life
    3. Hypersensitivity, tendency to best grudges, is experienced persistently in abnormal personality disorder but this is not so in normal personality
    4. Assertive training, antianxiety medications are used in the treatment of abnormal personality whereas it is not used in normal personality.
    5. Peoples with abnormal disorder exhibit certain personality traits to an unusual and inappropriate extreme whereas this is not so with normal personality.
    6. Normal personality is desirable whereas abnormal personality is undesirable
    7. Abnormal personality disorder is not limited to mental illness, while normal personality disorder has nothing to do with mental illness
    8. Persons with abnormal personality disorder has significant problems associated with occupation and social performance whereas it is not so with normal personality.


    1. Anatasi, A (1970). “Differential Psychology, Toronto, Macmillian”
    2. Boyinbole, 1 (1987). “Theories of Personality”
    3. Child R (1968). “Personality in culture”
    4. Godwin CE Obidigbo (2001) “Panoramic issues in Psychology” Zimbardo, P. (1988) “Psychology and Life”.


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