Functional sociopaths more and more seem to find their way into the local church’s leadership, sometimes they are the pastors, worship leaders, home group leaders or they may have no official leadership role but have manipulated their way into a position of influence and then begins the breakdown of any healthy community life.

Community life is part of the problem or, rather lack of it.  High functioning individuals with personality disorders seem quite normal, but as time passes it becomes clear that something isn’t right so to keep their secrets sociopaths will change their friends or associates every few years.

What is a personality disorder?

Everyone has personality traits that characterise him or her. These are the usual ways that a person thinks and behaves, which makes each of us unique. Personality traits become a personality disorder when the pattern of thinking and behaviour is extreme, inflexible and maladaptive.

Personality disorders are seen as a failure of character development. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) divides personality disorders into 3 clusters and 10 distinct diagnoses. There clusters of personality disorders: odd or eccentric disorders; dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders; and anxious or fearful disorders. Specific disorders are:

Paranoid personality disorder is a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others, such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.

Schizoid personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.

Schizotypal personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with reduced capacity for close relationships. It is also characterised by distortions of thinking and perception and eccentric behaviour.

Antisocial personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.

Histrionic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking.

Narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or actual behaviour), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

Avoidant personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.

Dependent personality disorder is a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of, which leads to submissive and clinging behaviour and fears of separation.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.

Borderline personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, moods, and control over impulses.

In the next post, we will focus on the narcissistic personality disorder perhaps the unhealthiest disorder in any position of authority, specially behind the pulpit.

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