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Us and them: not so different

The mind is attracted to thinking in terms of dichotomies – we like to believe there’s two sides to every story. And that’s just how our minds like to process the world. Our lives are littered with them: people are good or bad, politicians are left or right-wing, we are either happy or sad.

Popular thought about people with personality disorders is no different. These people are different from us, members of another category, not within our reach. What psychological research repeatedly tells us is that this is not true. No matter what personality traits you choose to measure, you will find we are not all that different.

Research from the University of Surrey compared senior business managers with current and former patients of Broadmoor hospital – a high security mental hospital. They found on measures of histrionic, narcissistic and compulsive personality, the business managers scored higher than the patients. Where the patients scored higher was on antisocial, borderline and paranoid personality dimensions.

> Read a summary of the paper