10 Mental Illnesses We Often Mistake for Character Traits

Nov 09, 2018 by apost team

When people start acting strangely, we often try to make excuses for them because we believe it is a part of their character. However, many people believe there is more to the strange behavior than we initially think.

Arthur Freeman, a psychotherapist and member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and Aaron T. Beck, the founder of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, have revealed that some of the characteristics are symptoms of mental illnesses. They discuss this in their book, Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders.

These ten personality traits might be symptoms of something worse if people do not control them.



The first category of personality traits is negligence. These are the people who want to play all the time and work as little as possible. Though it is often a wish of many people to work less, some people cross the line.

One example might be people who have managed to take some days off by claiming to be sick, while also taking many vacations and leave without pay. Those who are also often late to work might have a mental illness called antisocial personality disorder.

Other symptoms of this disorder are feeling as if they are going nowhere, wasting money on unplanned purchases, living at the expense of others and frequent lying without having any reasoning.

Rewards and time management skills can help people fight against this personality disorder. It can be a great idea to use a reward system by telling yourself what gift you will give yourself for reaching a goal.

Make sure you stick to this for at least one month to help you develop the habit. It is also important to consider writing down any issues or problems and brainstorm the possible solutions.




Shyness can become a full-blown mental illness when people go into complete isolation and do not want to maintain their connections to the outside world. People who try to stop feeling emotions or who are seeking to limit their connection to others will often find activities or work that does not require much social interaction.

However, this intense isolation and introversion might lead to schizoid personality disorder. This might have symptoms like the tendency to dream unrealistically, to have a hypersensitivity, a lack of close friends and an indifference to critique or praise.

Many people can prevent this disease by finding group activities that they enjoy. This might include learning a new language or attending classes.



People who procrastinate often don’t want to obey the rules of society and they express their frustration by putting off their work. People who procrastinate may have a passive-aggressive personality disorder which can include bouts of depression.

Though most people procrastinate at one point or another, those who procrastinate chronically might develop more irritability responding to requests to do things that are ordinary for others like chores or typical work tasks.

They may also expressive offensiveness towards those who seek to provide helpful advice to work better or faster and they may act with anger when they are criticized.

One of the difficulties of this disorder is that they often do not feel guilty. However, therapy can help people stop procrastinating.

Temper and Impulsiveness

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People who have a short temper or who are incredibly impulsive might have a borderline personality disorder. Though impulsivity does not often include dangers, when it is paired with a short temper, you might want to pay attention to it.

If a person also has unthoughtfully wasted money, unstable relationships, lack of care while driving and mood swings, they might have a borderline personality disorder.

However, a great way to solve this problem is rewarding self-control with small rewards.

Constant Self-Reproach

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Those who are constantly self-deprecating might have an avoidant personality disorder. They tend to hide away from their problems rather than solving them and they are often prone to depression, panic attacks, and sleeping disorders.

Though being self-aware is a necessary part of functioning in the world today, self-criticism does not help you develop further. Instead, it can be extremely dangerous to your mental health.

If you feel a strong resentment of disapproval or criticism or are constantly avoiding new responsibilities or exaggerating the possible difficulties, you might be too self-critical.

A great way to solve constant self-reproach is to write down all the predictions about the action you are about to perform so you can see that they are very unlikely to happen.



Suspicion can be a symptom of paranoid personality disorder when people start feeling overly concerned that they are being watched.

If the disorder gets out of control, they may start to distrust their partner, start looking for codes and meaning in ordinary actions and considering everyone as being guilty of wrongdoing.

If you have constant mistrust, you need to start creating a list of your close relationships and then keep track of every time they meet your expectations.



People who are overly dependent might have a dependent personality disorder. If they have difficulty making decisions without validation from outside authorities, they might have this disorder.

People who severely dislike being alone or feel obsessive about the fact that everyone is constantly betraying them might have issues with dependency. People can fight this disorder by proving to themselves how competent they are.



People might have histrionic personality disorder or hysteria when they are incredibly sensitive and emotional. They are often looking for approval or praise from people who are very respected and are unable to concentrate on a task for a significant period. People can fight hysteria by working with a timer while focusing on one task.



People who are perfectionists might have an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder if they are unwilling to do the things they like because they do not want to be unproductive. They also have a giant fear of making a mistake.

People who are perfectionists can start working towards healing by staying in one place and meditating.

Heightened Self-Esteem


While a healthy sense of self-esteem is considered confidence, too much might be a narcissistic personality disorder. This might be using people to achieve their own goals, expecting special treatment, or feeling a lot of envy towards others.

People with narcissism should start changing their dreams to realistic goals.

Have you ever experienced anyone with such traits? Let us know in the comments. Pass this with your friends and family so they are informed as well. 

Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation by your doctor. Your health is important to us!