High & Low Functioning PDs


High and Low-Functioning – A High-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual is one who is able to conceal their dysfunctional behavior in certain public settings and maintain a positive public or professional profile while exposing their negative traits to family members behind closed doors. A Low-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual is one who is unable to conceal their dysfunctional behavior from public view or maintain a positive public or professional profile.

Low-Functioning – A Low-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual is one who is unable to conceal their dysfunctional behavior from public view or maintain a positive public or professional profile.


Contrary to a popular myth, personality disorders have little correlation with intelligence. People who suffer from personality disorders span the spectrum of IQ from the lowest to the highest.

High-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individuals are those who are able to keep up appearances outside of the home and participate in society convincingly in the workplace, in social groups, in churches and organizations. Some high functioning personality-disordered individuals are leaders in their field of work, politicians, CEO’s, teachers, church elders, police officers, judges etc. However, they may exhibit a very different set of behaviors behind closed doors.

Living with a High-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual can be frustrating because there may be little support and validation from people outside the home, who may assume that what they see on the outside is a reflection of what goes on behind closed doors.High-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individuals may use their success in the public world as a way to bolster the opinion that there is nothing wrong with them and that any conflict within the home cannot be their fault. You may find yourself thinking “Everybody thinks I’m so lucky but nobody knows what this is really like.” In reality there are many people who do know what it is like, but it’s not the kind of thing that many people are willing to talk about openly in public.

Low-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individuals are at the opposite end of the spectrum, unable to hide their behaviors from public view. Examples include people who are reclusive, long-term unemployed, chronically depressed, people who are institutionalized in psychiatric facilities, people with alcohol & drug addictions or people who are repeatedly in trouble with law enforcement. Note that none of these conditions is necessary or sufficient for the diagnosis of a personality disorder, but someone who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder and also exhibits one of these traits might be considered “low-functioning”.

Living with a Low-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual can be frustrating because you may feel that you are being taken advantage of and you are doing all the hard work while the person with the personality disorder complains and puts demands on you while doing nothing to improve their own situation. You may also suffer from depression yourself as you torture yourself with the thought “How did I get stuck with such a loser?” In reality what sometimes keeps us stuck is our own sense of FOG- Fear Obligation & Guilt – in which we convince ourselves that we can’t afford to make the changes necessary to unstick ourselves.

It is not unusual for some people with personality disorders to flip between periods of high-functioning and low-functioning behavior. This is very similar to people who suffer from Bipolar Disorder and may in some cases be indicative of Bipolar Disorder. Another common occurrence is for a personality-disordered individual to live with a kind of “split-personality” where in certain environments or situations they behave in a high-functioning manner and in others in a low-functioning manner. See our pages on Selective Competence and Selective Memory for more Information.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Borderline Buddha
    Jul 28, 2015 @ 21:21:07

    Some days i feel like im both.
    Unable to function in the home and want so bad to get out. Then im fine for a little but, then i just want to go home and hibernate and cry until i feel normal

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Joyce
    Jul 28, 2015 @ 21:41:45

    Reblogged this on MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. KtKat
    Jul 28, 2015 @ 22:05:57

    Reblogged this on The House of Hale.

    Liked by 1 person


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