A Great Match or ‘Game Over’?
By Hilary Diack
How can you begin to define the diverse, complex, contradictory, confusing, charismatic, and sometimes infuriating mélange of characteristics that make up the human personality? And more intriguing, how do we all manage to get along, and even fall in love?
A recent meeting with Dr. Abdel Nasser Omar, leading psychiatrist and CEO of Al Mashfa Hospital proved to be informative and revealing. Cairo West Magazineshares it with you.
CWM: How do you classify the main personality types?
AO: From a psychiatrist’s point of view the personality is a cluster of different traits, combined in a group. We could say that there are around 13 to 14 main types of personality. Many personality types fall into ‘normal’ range, but can become exaggerated when interacting with other certain personality types.
Looking at the first main cluster, which we loosely define as ‘odd’ or ‘eccentric’ we have several sub-types: paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal.
Paranoid: Constantly suspicious, they find it difficult to trust anyone, will question the fidelity of his or her spouse, loyalty of friends. This type is also likely to bear grudges.
Schizoid: This person doesn’t relate, is reluctant to express emotion, has few close friends, and tends to avoid social activities and interaction. They are typically ‘cold fish’, even with people they often have in their immediate environment.
Schizotypal: Generally a combination of the two preceding types, this person is a loner by nature, suspicious, avoids social interaction, and holds eccentric, pseudo-scientific and pseudo-philosophical views. They have the potential to become schizophrenic.
Looking at the second group, we can class them as impulsive and emotionally unstable.
Borderline personality disorder: Many people have traits in this category, but manage to avoid having it develop into a full-blown disorder. They tend to be unstable and very impulsive, with no concrete life strategy. Their personality can be reactive and easily influenced. They are thrill seekers, always looking for instant gratification .
Usually the female of the species. This type wants to be the center of attention and can be a ‘drama queen’ with exaggerated displays of temperament. There is an ongoing obsession with being sexually seductive, with a strong need to enhance physical attributes and be admired by the opposite sex.
Here we find a personality that is more common with the guys. They tend to be very self-centred, with a need for adulation. They expect to be given priority in any situation, as they feel they warrant it. They can never be wrong or imperfect, in their own eyes at least, so their self-love is actually genuine.
Appearances can be deceptive. To the casual observer, and even those who think they know him or her quite well they are charming, attentive, a good spouse and parent, and agreeable friend. They are often intelligent and can excel in business and politics, which they regularly do. So, where’s the catch? At heart, or lack thereof, they are cold, manipulative and callous.
The third cluster of personality types is described as anxious and fearful.
This type is totally dependent on others in their life, constantly seeking reassurance and emotional support. Lacking self-confidence, they find it difficult to take decisions by themselves. Not being willing to push forward and demand attention, it may not immediately be apparent that they need caring for.
In this case there is a social phobia. Although they enjoy company, their sense of shyness and fear of receiving a negative reaction or being humiliated can mean they avoid a lot of gatherings. They can feel comfortable in smaller groups and interact quite well.
Totally driven, this type can be obsessed with details, analytical, and ritualistic. Insisting on always being right, they tend to see things as black or white. With an exaggerated preoccupation with rules and regulations, they need to clearly delineate what is right and what is wrong.
Another type of personality that occurs frequently can be categorized as depressive.
The predominant mood is pessimistic, gloomy, negative and lacking in humour. The person tends to look on the bleak side and expect the worst outcome in any situation. Their self-concept centres on feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness and they may exhibit low self-esteem.
So, how do they get along with other types, or even their own?
Paranoid / Paranoid: Perfect material for a budding scriptwriter, this combination is a private detective’s dream. Suspicion overload!
Paranoid / Schizoid or Schizotypal: The Paranoid would be constantly starved of any warmth or affection to allay fears of betrayal, the Schizoid couldn’t care less.
Paranoid /Borderline Personality Disorder: Maybe the Paranoid has every reason to worry, who knows what the BPD will do next? No comfort zone here. The BPD would just laugh off the Paranoid’s concerns.
Paranoid / Histrionic: If the Paranoid is male and the Histrionic female it could be a relationship from hell. Her attention-grabbing behaviour would be seen as ongoing signs of betrayal and infidelity, justified or not. The Histrionic would need to constantly reassure the Paranoid.
Paranoid / Narcissist: If the Paranoid can accept the Narcissist’s self-obsession they may be able to cope, for a while. The feeling of being manipulated would probably wear them down in the long run. The Narcissist would only stick around so long as the Paranoid served their purpose.
Paranoid / Anti-social: The Anti-Social can be quite a go-getter in life, so maybe the Paranoid is able to accept the down-side in order to reap some benefits?
Paranoid / Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive or Depressive: Now, this is more manageable. There will be less scope for Paranoid’s suspicion and doubts. While maybe not the most cheerful of combinations, they should be able to form reasonably stable relationships.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Schizoid or Schizotypal: Strangely, these loners could find common ground, a sort of instinctive understanding of each other’s need for space. Not impossible.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Borderline personality disorder: There could be an initial attraction, particularly between the Schizotypal and BPD. The key would be the eccentric views of the first, which may influence and excite the BPD. A potential recipe for trouble, this one!
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Histrionic: It is unlikely the Histrionic would receive the response they seek from either of these types, there is very little common ground. Not a likely combination.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Narcissistic: The Narcissist’s charm may fall on stony ground with these types. In an arranged marriage they could cope by role-playing when needed, but what a strain!
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Anti-social: Again, there would be little to attract these two types. Maybe shared goals, if they could be pragmatic enough. The Anti-social could be irritated by the Schizotypal’s eccentricity.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Dependent: The Schizoid or Schizotypal are not really cut out for taking care of anyone, let alone themselves, so the Dependent would really have a struggle getting support of any type in this relationship.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Avoidant: A shared aversion to crowds and an active social life could suit these two. They could make it work.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Obsessive Compulsive: So long as they could live and let live they might adjust to each other’s quirks.
Schizoid or Schizotypal/ Depressive: The risk here is that they could send each other into a real state of doom and gloom. Not much light at the end of the tunnel in this match.
Histrionic / Histrionic: Scary to consider, there would be a lot of competitiveness here, but a certain amount of camaraderie could surface. Never a dull moment!
Histrionic / Narcissist:Maybe neither of them could stand the competition for attention in this one?
Histrionic / Anti-Social: If the Anti-Social type sees the Histrionic as useful, they could manage them to serve their ends. Not a relaxed situation, but not uncommon either.
Histrionic / Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive, Depressive: The main issue here would be the ability each type might offer in terms of accepting the Histrionic’s craving for attention. If they can deliver, it could work. The Dependent may find it a battle to have their needs recognized.
Narcissistic/ Narcissistic: Ouch. How long would it take for the ice to set in? There is no room here for both of them.
Narcissistic/ Anti-social: The Anti-Social can read the Narcissist rather easily, and manipulate them. It depends what they can both get out of the relationship, there needs to be a common benefit.
Narcissistic/ Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive or Depressive: The key to these combinations lies in the Narcissist getting the attention required to maintain co-existence. There is not likely to be much resistance, so it could work, on an unequal level.
Anti-social/ Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive or Depressive: The Anti-Social would be in control in these relationships, but could choose them for that reason. There would be limited challenge to their decisions, they would be in the driver’s seat in most cases.
Anti-social/ Anti-social: Let the games begin. Two master players would battle to the end. If they had common interests at heart they could be a force to be reckoned with. Dangerous!
Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive or Depressive/ Dependent, Avoidant, Obsessive Compulsive or Depressive: Not combinations to take the world by storm, nonetheless they have the ability to understand their weaknesses and not feel threatened too much by each other. Supportive relationships could grow.