Personality disorders are a set of ten diagnosable and treatable mental disorders. One question people frequently have is whether the need for control is a personality disorder. The short answer is that it depends.
The need for control is related to some personality disorders. At the same time, just because someone has a controlling personality, it doesn’t mean they necessarily have a personality disorder.
Is There a Link with the Need for Control and a Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders are long-term thought patterns, emotional responses and behaviors outside of the norms of society.
The ten personality disorders include:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
Personality disorders can cause significant problems in a person’s ability to function normally.They can cause problems at work, and they make it difficult to maintain relationships.
Personality disorders are treatable, however.
Typically the treatment for personality disorders is a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. Other forms of talk therapy may be less frequently used as a way to treat these disorders.
Of these, some do include symptoms related to control and the need to be in control.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that’s defined by dramatic shifts in mood, behavior, and self-image. Someone with borderline personality disorder may do things that are impulsive, and there may be intense periods of extreme anger, anxiety and depression.
As far as the need for control and a personality disorder, with borderline personality disorder, the person may feel the need to control their environment. As a result, someone with BPD may create situations that are disruptive to others as a means of doing that.
In this way, borderline personality can lead to an indirect desire to control other’s situations and behaviors.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder leads people to have an inflated sense of self. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder will feel more important than they are. They will also need a lot of admiration and seek attention and praise.
People with this personality disorder have a difficult time forming relationships, and they don’t have a sense of empathy for others. At the core, however, someone with this personality disorder often has very little self-esteem and feels highly sensitive to real or perceived criticism.
Regarding the need for control and a personality disorder, with narcissistic personality disorder, a person may try to control how other people see them and how they see themselves. A lot of this is a self-protection mechanism to try and prevent being hurt by other people in relationships.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid personality disorder is marked by intense suspicion and a lack of trust. Someone with paranoid personality disorder won’t confide in other people, doesn’t form relationships and can take even simple comments as something that was intentional as a way to hurt them or “get them.”
People with paranoid personality disorder need to control their environment. They will develop an intense distrust for others as a way to make that happen.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Of all the links between the need for control and a personality disorder, the most significant lies with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder have an intense need to control their environment and other people as a way to reduce their own sense of anxiety.
Controlling Personality vs. a Personality Disorder
With personality disorders, there is certainly an element of control. People with personality disorders have a strong desire and need to feel like they’re controlling their environment. This can often include the people around them.
However, having a controlling personality is not the same as a personality disorder.
The desire to control other people is fairly common, while personality disorders aren’t. Our need to control people and situations stems from our need to manage our anxiety. This doesn’t mean a controlling personality is healthy, but it’s different from the long-term patterns and problems that result from untreated personality disorders.