As human beings, each human has unique personalities that are not necessarily the same. The test of a personality is not necessarily a methodical process but an intuitive and dynamic process that involves an individual and his or her motivations. People transform personalities, and therefore, behaviors and they are not always the same. The testing of a personality is not only interesting but very important. As psychotherapists, we know the unique personalities that function in different situations, and we know a great deal more about behaviors involving subjects of our clinical practice than most people realize.

When we assess personalities to accurately determine health or disease conditions, we must first clearly define what a personality is. Last year, the American Psychiatric Association defined a personality as a set of behavioral patterns and paraphilias. People who meet the following criteria have a set of coherent, convictions, values, and moral guidelines. Personality disorder, when addressed in a clinical setting, is a set of symptoms and disorders that are not always explainable by medical criteria. Also, Understanding the 145 different types of gradients or developmental types of personality disorders in people explains how multiple factors interact with each other to shape the individual. Again, different types of personality disorders revolve around different kinds of attunements from attachment relationships to financial and social status.

As humans, we matter to other humans. The ability of one person to count on someone else to respond to her needs, and to allow other people to count on her to respond to her needs is a basic human need. When these basic needs are not met they can react in the most unpleasant ways. When a child is born, we assume that the child will automatically get it. This is not necessarily so. Many times a person needs someone else to help them get it when they cannot help themselves. The different steps taken by a child, which will help him to become independent and grow comfortable, rely upon the caregiver’s intervention. The final step in independent growth is to ask for what you need.

Many times when I have been trying to figure out whether a person has a personality disorder I will ask the question, “is the person easily upset with things that do not go their way?” Often, the answer is yes, but it might also be that they are great at tolerating other people. And, of course, some people may show great potential to become human beings. These are the people who, on a whole, thrive under a certain set of circumstances. These are the people who may need to grow some more before they can eat, sleep, share their feelings, or behave effectively.

In my clinic I have often talked to parents who are seriously disturbed by decisions or behavior in their family. I have heard parents describe their children as manipulative, poor at sharing their feelings, and demanding or controlling. Many will say that they hardly speak to their children and even when they do their language is sometimes rude. Some children will play the victim and blame their parents for all their problems. A number of children even expressed an agreement with their parents that they never explain what they are doing or how they are thinking. These children are often less emotionally stable than their peers.

A parent described a child who was deaf in one of her children. She complained that her other children were getting very angry with her son for his deafness and she would not even get him to go to school. The other children, usually, allowed the deaf boy to accommodate his deafness. The deaf boy, however, would tear up when the school nurse gave him his lunch. Although this boy was not mentally handicapped he was not easy to deal with. He wanted, he stated, to eat his meal quietly and honor his mealtime. He wanted to eat at his own pace, to feed himself. The school nurse, through her positive attitude, was able to facilitate this unusual behavior. The child and his siblings all got to eat at normal times and school was a better place for them all. I believe that a very small percentage of primary and secondary school children meet the complete criteria for mental retardation. The vast majority of children are able to usefully interact with their peers and participate in social exchanges and classroom social activities. Many children of mental retardation do not grow up to follow social rules. Their social skills are more associated with being self-reliant. If these children are helped, and they are helped relatively well, they usually develop normal emotional responses to issues in life that are similar to those of their peers with normal developmental skills. It is convenient to compare a child to a sibling or to the typical caregiver. As I see it, all children share similar character traits.