MCAT Social and Behavioral Sciences : Personality Disorders

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Personality Disorders

People who are impulsive, unstable in mood, and manipulative are exhibiting the symptoms of __________.

Possible Answers:

dissociative identity disorder

schizophrenia

antisocial personality disorder

generalized anxiety disorder

borderline personality disorder

Correct answer:

borderline personality disorder

Explanation:

Borderline personality disorder is a diagnosis in people who are impulsive, unstable in mood, and manipulative. They can be charming and friendly one minute and angry, irritable, and sarcastic the next. People who need to escape from extreme trauma, most often from sexual or physical abuse in childhood, may develop distinct different personalities. This is termed dissociative identity disorder. People who lie, cheat, steal, and have no sense of responsibility and no anxiety of guilt about their behavior are described as having an antisocial personality disorder. People with schizophrenia experience hallucinations and delusions. Generalized anxiety disorder consists of persistent, excessive worrying and uncontrolled anxiety that has lasted for at least six months. 

Example Question #2 : Personality Disorders

A 24 year old male experiences difficulty forming healthy adult relationships. He has extreme reactions when someone disagrees with him, and may scream or accuse people of abandoning or betraying him. He has an explosive temper and can behave in self-destructive ways, such as driving while intoxicated, binge eating, and engaging in self-deprecating speech. His family states that he tends to form unhealthy opinions of others: he will make a new friend who he puts onto a pedestal, then he will demonize that same individual when they fail to meet his expectations. 

This individual is exhibiting symptoms of which of the following personality disorders?

Possible Answers:

Schizotypal personality disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Borderline personality disorder

Paranoid personality disorder

Correct answer:

Borderline personality disorder

Explanation:

"Borderline personality disorder" is characterized by difficulty regulating behavior or thoughts, extreme fluctuations in mood, unstable relationships due to idealization or demonization, fear of abandonment or other attachment disorders, and impulsive or reckless behavior.

The other choices are incorrect. "Obsessive-compulsive disorder" is typified by repetitive, unwelcome thoughts that compel the individual to perform ritualistic acts. "Paranoid personality disorder" is a condition of pervasive, long-standing paranoia and general mistrust of others. "Schizotypal personality disorder" is an antisocial disorder: individuals experience social anxiety, the urge to isolate themselves from others, and odd behavior or beliefs.

Example Question #3 : Personality Disorders

Which of the following is not a common symptom in borderline personality disorder?

Possible Answers:

A pattern of tumultuous relationships with family, friends, and romantic interests, often vacillating from extreme idealization to extreme dislike or devaluation.

Extreme reactions to abandonment, real or perceived

The desire to isolate socially

Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom

Correct answer:

The desire to isolate socially

Explanation:

The DSM IV criteria for diagnosis of borderline personality disorder includes at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme reactions to abandonment, real or perceived
  • A pattern of tumultuous relationships with family, friends, and romantic interests, often vacillating from extreme idealization to extreme dislike or devaluation.
  • Distorted and unstable self-image, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, plans, or goals
  • Impulsive and destructive behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or self-harming behavior
  • Intense and highly changeable moods
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.

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