The Four Types of Toxic Personalities

Lisa E. Scott's picture

The DSM-V is due out in 2013 and speculation regarding upcoming revisions has caused a great deal of controversy in the mental health field. Some reports indicate the American Psychological Association (APA) will condense the personality disorders. While we cannot predict what the APA will do in its upcoming version, the focus of my next book will be the four Toxic Personalities we most frequently encounter in romantic relationships that prohibit healthy intimacy and closeness.

The Four Toxic Personalities

1) The Narcissist – This person is an elitist and exists to be adored and admired.
• The characteristics of this Toxic Personality describe the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
• A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.
• Think American Gigolo (Richard Gere)

2) The Histrionic – This person is overly dramatic, emotional and attention-seeking.
• The characteristics of this Toxic Personality describe the Histrionic Personlity Disorder (HPD).
• Pervasive attention-seeking behavior including inappropriate sexual seductiveness and shallow or exaggerated emotions.
• Think Sunset Boulevard (Norma Desmond)

3) The Borderline– This person is intense, demanding and unstable.
• The characteristics of this Toxic Personality describe the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
• Extreme "black and white" thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior.
• Think Fatal Attraction (Glenn Close)

4) The Anti-Social – This person is the con-artist who often exhibits more criminal and violent traits.
• The characteristics of this Toxic Personality describe the Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD).
• A pervasive disregard for the law and the rights of others.
• Think The Talented Mr. Ripley (Matt Damon) or American Psycho (Christian Bale)

Keep in mind an individual may possess traits from more than one of the personality disorders as these characteristics often overlap. While each personality disorder has its own unique attributes, they all share one thing in common. All Toxic Personalities are manipulative, selfish and controlling. The only reason they seek out relationships is to ensure someone is always present to stroke their fragile ego, cater to their needs and make them look good.

Of course, a Toxic Personality will never show this side of themselves until you have settled down with them. They are smart enough to know this is not how to win one’s affection. Unfortunately, once they have won your heart, their true colors emerge and the reality of their true persona is quite shocking.

It is critical to our recovery that we understand the Toxic Personality. When coming out of a relationship like this, the first thing we need to do is get real with ourselves about what happened in this relationship. Only by understanding the Toxic Personality, do we realize we have suffered emotional abuse and trauma at the hands of the person we love. They have brainwashed us into becoming dependent on them and now we must deprogram from them. We have done nothing wrong, nor is there anything we could have done differently to save our relationship. All PDIs will eventually devalue and discard their significant others. It is imperative we comprehend and understand this before anything else.