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Personality Disorders in a Social World: What Social Media Means for Personality Disorders

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Personality disorders social mediaThe old saying, “it’s a small world,” has never been more true than it is today. Texting, email, Twitter, Facebook, and even GPS systems make it almost impossible to be anonymous or alone. In the world of personality disorders, this constant input and expectation from others for input may have the potential to wreak havoc on symptoms already nearly impossible to live with.

In a study released by the non-profit Anxiety UK, over half of people who used social media such as Facebook or Twitter said the sites had changed their lives — but not for the better. Nearly half said they felt “worried or uncomfortable” when they found themselves without access to the sites, while nearly two-thirds of study respondents said they “felt the need to switch off” their computers and phones to truly get a break from technology.

Feeding Personality Disorder Symptoms

These constant forums for self-expression could be baiting, even feeding, the symptoms of personality disorders, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

In fact, Randi Kreger, co-author of books like Stop Walking on Eggshells known for bringing the concerns of those dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder to an international forefront, recently pointed to a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences that found a direct link between the number of friends one has on Facebook and the degree to which one is a “socially disruptive” narcissist.

“The research comes amid increasing evidence that Facebook and other social media are creating a generation of young narcissists,” writes Kreger.

Kreger continued to note that, in the study, researchers were unclear as to whether Facebook was feeding or creating narcissistic tendencies, or a little bit of both. This is because of the increased need people have to share every aspect of their lives online, whether good or bad.

Studies have also shown that social media can result in feelings of depression and anxiety. It can be hard for people to watch their online friends lives evolve with events, such as weddings, babies, and parties, that they may not be experiencing themselves. People may feel anxious about gaining more online friends, or not getting any responses to their online posts. This can stoke the symptoms of certain personality disorders instead of helping people to feel more connected.

Forums for Support

On the flip side of that coin, social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are undeniably effective forums in spreading information and finding communities of people dealing with the same issues. Facebook, for example, has several community pages set up for those with Borderline Personality Disorder to discuss their daily struggles and engage with each other about what has helped them deal with symptoms and what has not.

These forums can be invaluable when it comes to feeling heard and understood by other people who are experiencing the same symptoms as you. The anonymity may even allow you to open up about your symptoms or ask questions that you’ve been too nervous or embarrassed to ask.

The danger lies in the perceived safety of hiding behind a computer screen when seeking help for personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder, social anxiety, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Advice you get online may not always be accurate, and it’s vital to remember the importance of seeking professional personality disorder treatment if you believe you are struggling with a personality disorder.

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