Personality changes in mental illness (psychopathic-like syndrome)

Personality degradation is a reverse development, regression, loss of stability, weakening of activity, decline in performance and mental balance. Simply put, a personality loses its inherent traits simultaneously with the impoverishment of all skills and qualities: judgments, feelings, talents, activity.

We can identify such symptoms of personality degradation as increased irritability, narrowing of interests, dysfunction of memory and attention, and decreased adaptive capabilities. Also, the violation in question can be expressed in the development of carelessness, complacency, and weak character.

The most severe type of personality degradation is considered to be insanity, which manifests itself in carelessness, dementia, loss of contact with the environment, and complete indifference to the environment. A common cause of the described disorder is alcoholism, accompanied by severe somatic disorders and neurological dysfunctions caused by the abuse of alcohol-containing liquids. Alcoholics lose social connections, professional functioning and work activity also suffer.

What is degradation or disintegration of personality

Personality degradation is a collective term that implies the presence of psychological and physiological pathological processes that interfere with a person’s normal life and work.

Personality degradation in the definition refers to a decrease in activity and performance, personal regression as a result of mental imbalance and passivity. Degrading, a person loses socially significant qualities, his judgments and conclusions become primitive. He loses the ability to create something new, to generate ideas.

With a split personality, a person’s sphere of interests narrows, and he experiences difficulties in social adaptation. Mental processes malfunction, as a result of which a person becomes irritable. The characteristic features of the behavior of a degenerate are weakness of character, carelessness, insanity, and dementia. Gradually, a person loses contact with the world around him, the natural need for recognition and communication is replaced by indifference and a craving for loneliness. The pathological process also has a negative impact on a person’s professional activity.

Heavy burden of the past

A distinctive feature of any human life is a long and varied series of events.

Some moments are colored with disappointment and melancholy, when a person especially acutely felt his uselessness and loneliness. Unfortunately, such negative memories often “settle” in the subconscious of the individual. Any individual destroys his real life by transferring into it the negative “baggage” of the years he has lived.

It is important that you should not allow him to constantly influence your own life. It is necessary to realize that there was negativity, but it has already passed.

You will need to develop a habit that should ban everything bad that happened in the past. If a person allows negative memories to influence the perception of his own personality, then the entire world around him will turn into unsightly colors. In this case, a person may miss out on many opportunities that life provides - career growth or the love of his life.

The reason is that a person evaluates himself biasedly, belittling his own capabilities and potential. As a result, it turns into a never-ending vicious circle.

The main thing we need to do is to leave the past in the past and look at the real world with a fresh and optimistic look.

Stages of development of personality degradation

Personality orientation - what is it in psychology, its types

In psychology, the pathological process of personal degradation includes several stages:

  1. Disappointment in loved ones as a result of conflict or quarrel. A person feels insulted and decides to become independent, to live for his own pleasure, regardless of the interests and needs of relatives and friends. A person is contemptuous of family and friendly ties, neglects the norms and rules of behavior established in society.

If attempts are not made to resolve the conflict situation, which served as a reason for disappointment, then the personal construct will continue to collapse, aggravated by such harmful feelings as anger, resentment and aggression. A person's character is rapidly changing for the worse. There are manifestations of cruelty and envy, the ability to admit one’s guilt and work on one’s shortcomings is lost.

  1. Spiritual degradation. As a result of anger towards loved ones and more successful people, a person becomes conflicted. He has clashes with work colleagues, conflicts with management, and is rude and insulting towards his loved ones. In the speech of a degrading personality, profanity appears, moral values ​​and moral foundations collapse.

Spiritual degradation

  1. Complete degradation. Signs of the onset of the last stage of degradation are alcohol or drug addiction, depraved behavior, and loss of friendships.

Attention! The degradation process can be stopped at any stage. In order to regain the taste of life and receive joy from communicating with loved ones, a person must learn to forgive and sincerely repent.

Complaint and reason for it

You don’t have to be a person with a history of psychological trauma to have a reason to complain about your life. In the everyday speech of the average person, regardless of demographic, gender, social and other aspects (except cultural and the level of general self-awareness), this complaint is often found. Let's look at the concept of a complaint and the reason for it from a psychological perspective.

A complaint can be expressed through various forms. For example, a person may share with you that his boss at work annoyed him, his husband doesn’t give him flowers, his wife nags, his relatives bore him with calls, or he will tell a fascinating story about how he was rude to him in the store yesterday. As we can see, the common feature is that in all these stories the complainer is always ideal. Only someone else, some external evil, always ruins his life. Another person influences activities, thoughts, health, causes negative experiences, pierces a Voodoo doll with the face of the poor victim, and so on. We ourselves are not the source of our negative thinking, but there is definitely someone else who is responsible for what we feel. This is called external locus of control; when we believe that our life is in the wrong hands, everything happens because of other people, and only luck can help us achieve success. With this approach to life, a person has no opportunity to influence anything at all; he is powerless and dependent on someone else, who for some reason has the opportunity to influence not only his own life, but also the life of the person complaining. There is essentially nothing wrong with complaints, but in fact they are a hidden threat. By giving a complaint the green light, we rebuild relationships with the outside world in a negative way; this is a significant factor in the formation of inadequate destructive beliefs that take root in our minds and gradually destroy relationships in all areas of activity: with ourselves, in the family, with a partner, in business and so on. Complaining is when we blame others for not doing something or, on the contrary, their actions are the reason for your dissatisfaction. The complaint is connected to some extent with the fact that we are afraid to take responsibility in experiencing our emotions. Sometimes people are afraid to experience them. They are afraid to take responsibility for themselves in case of manifestation of infantile behavior. Take responsibility for your actions and actions. The complaint depends on the level of self-awareness of the individual, understanding and acceptance, first of all, of oneself, one’s feelings and thoughts.

Now let's look at examples of expressing NOT complaints. A conscientious person who understands his responsibility for his own life may say that he does not like that the romance has disappeared in a relationship, or that he does not like how quickly he gets tired of work. All these statements are constructed from a personal position. A person understands that he is responsible for his own characteristics and experiences. He gets tired not because his vampire boss is draining energy from him, but because he is like that himself. And you can already do something about this. He can play sports, get better sleep, rest more often, and so on. And if someone else is to blame, freedom of maneuver disappears. It is much more difficult to get out of such a situation.

Possible reasons

Single people are more prone to personal disintegration than married or cohabiting people. Prolonged stay in depression leads to personal decline, sometimes to suicidal attempts.

Factors in human personality development - what they include

In addition, regression of personal development is one of the symptoms of various mental illnesses and neurotic disorders. Thus, regression of intellectual and personal development can be observed in schizophrenia, epilepsy and traumatic brain injuries.

Most often, personality deformation is observed in those who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction. In this case, personal degradation will be accompanied by somatic symptoms and problems in the functioning of the nervous system.

Additional Information. Alcoholism can be both a cause of personal degradation and a bitter consequence of the collapse of a person’s psychological structure. The same goes for gambling addiction.

Alcoholism and degradation

Apathy and personality disintegration can occur when a person has experienced severe emotional stress: the death of a spouse, loss of a job. Some regression in personal growth is observed among people after retirement: they lose their usual connections with colleagues, fall out of business communication and “lag behind” the pace of life of working friends and relatives. In addition, carelessness and the absence of daily work responsibilities will relax the brain and help reduce the expression of socially significant personal qualities of a person.

Spiritual degradation is becoming an urgent problem in modern society. It occurs as a result of devaluation of love, lack of compassion, disregard for moral standards, and self-centeredness. Young people today are degrading, since reading fiction has ceased to be an interesting activity for them. Their jokes are flat, their topics of communication are banal, their judgments are superficial and frivolous. They tend to destroy themselves with electronic cigarettes and spice.

For your information. A rare visit to cultural events, theater, cinema, and concerts can provoke spiritual degradation.

Reversibility of degradation and its prevention

To prevent the process of personality destruction, you need to engage in self-education, self-development, and self-affirmation. This is sometimes difficult, but interesting everyday work.

No matter how difficult it is to overcome shortcomings, it is easier than reversing the process of “fading” of the personality. Those people who managed to do this deserve great respect. You should not be shy to ask for help and support from loved ones and turn to professional psychologists.

When a person copes with grief and suffering, does not forget about humanity in inhumane conditions and in other similar difficult situations, he fights for the right to be himself, for his “I”, for the integrity and harmony of the individual and for the right to be a happy person. He chooses the path of development, not decline, life in every sense of the word, and not social death.

Personal degradation must, at a minimum, be stopped. You need to recognize it as a problem in time and stop it by eliminating the causes, adjusting behavior, and changing your worldview.

You need to be able to accept life as it is in cases where it is impossible to change it; in all other cases, a person is the creator of his own history and happiness.

Characteristic symptoms and signs

Volitional personality traits - what is it in psychology, their formation

The process of personal disintegration can be detected by the following symptoms and signs:

  • In character, such traits as deceit, anxiety, grumpiness, and stubbornness come to the fore.
  • Untidy appearance, neglect of personal hygiene rules.
  • Loss of faith in one's strength and importance. A person is convinced that everything is decided by the stronger. He believes that life depends on circumstances, and not on his own activity. It is useless to argue with fate; you should not try to change something.
  • Apathy and indifference. Human activity is aimed only at satisfying physiological needs.
  • A clear division of people into “us” and “strangers”. The circle of contacts is sharply narrowing.
  • Lack of tolerance for other people's opinions. The degenerate considers his point of view to be undeniably correct.
  • Limited vocabulary. A degrading person has difficulty in describing an object or phenomenon in detail. There are few adjectives in his speech. He has difficulty describing his emotional state and makes mistakes in understanding the expression of emotions and moods in other people.
  • Presence of alcohol, gaming or drug addiction.

Alcohol personality distortion

Important! Attentive attitude towards a person and a timely response to changes in his behavior can stop degradation.

What is the difference between personality disorders, neuroses and psychoses?

Unlike other psychiatric diagnoses, personality disorders are persistent, and psychologists increasingly speak of them as mental features that require not treatment, but adjustments within the framework of therapy.

A personality disorder is a mental disorder that, firstly, manifests itself constantly, and secondly, prevents a person from living in society. If some trait is similar to a disorder, but does not interfere with a person’s life, it is not a disorder.

Experts conditionally divide all “breakdowns” of the psyche into three categories: neuroses, borderline states and psychotic states or psychoses. The main difference between the former is that neuroses are a problem for healthy people. “At this level, a balanced personality faces individual painful experiences. But they do not threaten its integrity,” Snigur emphasizes.

neuroses are a problem for healthy people

Psychosis is an acute condition that often leads to hospitalization. At this level there are mental illnesses - for example, severe forms of schizophrenia, complicated by delusions and hallucinations.

Personality disorders are located between neuroses and psychoses. Bordering on the former and sometimes dangerously approaching the latter, they are nevertheless considered separately.

Personality degradation in alcoholism

The first signs of personal destruction in alcoholism become noticeable 6-8 years after the development of addiction. With alcoholism, personality destruction manifests itself in a gradual loss of self-control and a decrease in self-criticism. Increased irritability and aggressiveness are noted in those moments when there is no opportunity to drink. Such people are prone to causeless grievances and provoking scandals. An alcoholic’s thinking is superficial, intellectual processes are dulled, coordination of movements is weak, and criticality of perception sharply decreases.

In the later stages of alcoholism, personality disintegration manifests itself in the fading of social contacts. Severe ataxia is noted. A person becomes self-confident, rude, soulless, cynical, behaves tactlessly and incorrectly.

With personality degradation as a result of alcoholism, a person loses a sense of duty and responsibility, a sense of shame and guilt.

Attention! Alcoholism is a severe form of addiction that leads to complete personality degradation. The result of this process can be compared to the social death of the individual. That is why the timely reaction of loved ones to this problem and the adoption of urgent measures to help a degenerating person are so important.

Definition of degradation in psychology

Degradation is the process of deterioration of the characteristics of any object or phenomenon over time, a gradual decrease in quality, decline, destruction of matter due to external influences according to the laws of nature and time.

There is environmental, telecommunication, biogender, chemical degradation, degradation of the individual, society, and culture.

The phenomenon of personality degradation is studied in psychology. This is a pressing problem, closely related to the degradation of society as a whole.

As a psychological phenomenon, personality degradation includes the following processes:

  • narrowing of intellectual abilities,
  • deterioration of mental activity, ability to think critically,
  • decreased quality of mental processes and functions (problems with attention, perception, memory, speech),
  • decrease in social and physical activity,
  • loss of ability to work,
  • loss of acquired abilities and skills,
  • lack of manifestation of positive personality traits and qualities,
  • the emergence of negative personality traits and qualities,
  • impoverishment of the sphere of feelings and emotions, deterioration in the ability to understand others and communicate.

Thus, personality degradation is the process of destruction of its structure, qualities and properties.

People say about a degraded individual that he “sank down,” “lost his human appearance,” “disappeared,” and “took a step back in development.” Such definitions succinctly characterize the process of personality degradation.

Is it possible to avoid personality degradation?

Personality destruction can be avoided. However, this will require effort. First of all, you need to take care of yourself and your appearance, observe the norms and rules of behavior in society, and eradicate bad habits. An excellent measure to prevent personal degradation is reading both fiction and scientific works, followed by discussing what you read with friends or loved ones. At the same time, you need to learn to express your opinion in a reasoned manner, defend your point of view, and at the same time be able to change it if the interlocutor’s arguments turn out to be convincing.


Turning to philosophy and thinking about the meaning of life can help a person set a goal and outline ways to achieve it. If you have a life guideline and active attempts to do everything possible to achieve your goal, personal degradation cannot happen.

Attention! Any manifestations of creativity are a guarantee against personal disintegration and regression in development.

How to understand that something is going wrong?

Ask yourself a question: what every time prevents us from doing what we want most?

“Specialists prefer to diagnose when the patient is about 25 years old,” says the psychotherapist. “At this age, a person’s brain is fully formed, as is his behavior. But there are also studies of adolescent behavior that reveal characteristics that can develop into a personality disorder.”

Experts prefer to diagnose when the patient is about 25 years old

If we are talking about a teenager, the task of recognizing the problem and taking action falls on the shoulders of parents and teachers. An adult can detect a “breakdown” on his own.

“It is something that prevents a person from doing what he wants. For example, he wants to get a job, but he can’t, he wants to spend time with friends, but he doesn’t have them, he wants to create relationships, but over and over again they collapse, Snigur gives an example. — A person may ask himself the question: what’s wrong? Perhaps he automatically creates obstacles for himself.”

Methods to combat personality destruction

There are many ways to combat personal destruction. In the early stages of degradation, to prevent it, a person’s personal efforts will be sufficient, subject to the obligatory support of loved ones. If a person is in a state of deep decay, it is necessary to seek the help of specialists.

Self-medication or professional help

“What should I do if I am deteriorating as a person?” - the man, who realized the problem, racks his brains. Before taking measures to combat degradation, you need to understand its causes. Self-medication lies in the desire to constantly learn something new, to master new types of creativity. You can resort to auto-training or sign up for personal growth courses. Making new acquaintances and communicating with different people enriches the spiritual and social experience of the individual.

The main thing in self-medication is that a person should feel needed and significant for loved ones, find something worth living for. By expanding his horizons of possibilities, learning new things, the individual heals.

However, if, in addition to personal degradation, there is one or another type of dependent behavior, then you cannot do without the help of specialists. If the case is severe, hospitalization and inpatient treatment may be necessary.

No matter what happens, no matter how neglected the case may seem, you should not give up. Support, attentive attitude and participation of loved ones, personal positive example are the ladder along which a person who has once stumbled can again get on the right path in life.

Coped with degradation

How the solution to a problem becomes the problem itself

A person with a personality disorder tries to cope with the same situations year after year in the same ways, learned in childhood. And although they have not worked for a long time, he cannot get out of the vicious circle.

Personality disorder, one might say, becomes a “universal” method of solving problems similar to the one that a person faced at the beginning of his journey. As a rule, such methods are quite crude and do not take into account the subtleties of what is happening. But they are perfectly remembered, becoming part of our internal “firmware”.

“These mechanisms continue to operate in adulthood, when they are no longer needed. The man begins to walk in a circle. For example, as a child he learned that being an excellent student is a guarantee of respect and recognition. This is how you can come to perfectionism. But at 40, it is more likely to become a problem than a help in solving life problems, warns the psychotherapist. “A perfectionist may experience difficulties not only in relationships with people who find it difficult to withstand the level of his demands, but also with physical health.”

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