Personality Disorders Appear To Be Increasing

© 2011 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Recent research suggests that more and more people are growing up with personality disorders. This may explain why there appears to be an increase in the number of high-conflict people. A recent study done by the National Institutes of Health between 2001 and 2005 suggests an increasing trend in the percentage of people who meet the criteria for a personality disorder. The researchers interviewed over 35,000 people, who were considered representative of the United States population. They analyzed the results by four age groups. The following are the study results for the five personality disorders which I believe are most often associated with high-conflict behavior:

Narcissistic = 6.2% of US population

(62% male; 38% female)

Common conflict traits: arrogance, superiority, lack of empathy, insulting, self-centered

By age group:

65+ = 3.2%

64-45 = 5.6%

44-30 = 7.1%

29-20 yrs. = 9.4%

Borderline = 5.9% of US population

(47% male; 53% female)

Common conflict traits: sudden intense anger, wide mood swings, revenge and vindication

By age group:

65+ = 2.0%

64-45 = 5.5%

44-30 = 7.0%

29-20 yrs. = 9.3%

Paranoid= 4.4% of US population

(43% male; 57% female)

Common traits of: extreme fearfulness, mistrusts everyone, fears conspiracies and betrayals

By age group:

65+ = 1.8%

64-45 = 3.6%

44-30 = 5.0%

29-18 yrs. = 6.8%

Antisocial = 3.6% of US population

(74% male; 26% female)

Common traits: criminality, lying, fearless, enjoys bullying/hurting others, likes to dominate

By age group:

65+ = 0.6%

64-45 = 2.8%

44-30 = 4.2%

29-18 yrs. = 6.2%

Histrionic = 1.8% of US population

(51% male; 49% female)

Common traits: excessive drama, highly emotional, exaggerates, demands attention, may lie

By age group:

65+ = 0.6%

64-45 = 1.2%

44-30 = 1.8%

29-18 yrs. = 3.8% 

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.