This video answers the question: Do personality disorder symptoms predict divorce? We know that the construct of multiple divorces (when individuals get divorced a number of times throughout their life) is associated with anxiety, paranoid ideation, and global distress. We also know that borderline and antisocial personality disorders have been associated with separation, marital distress, low marital satisfaction, and divorce. Marital disruption, which of course is different than divorce, has been associated with paranoid, schizoid, antisocial, and histrionic personality disorders, as well as all three of the Cluster C personality disorders (avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder). There seems to be no question that personality disorders can tax a marriage, but here we’re looking specifically at divorce. The findings here were fairly interesting: increased levels of paranoid and histrionic personality disorders were associated with higher divorce rates, but none of the personalities disorders other than those were associated with higher divorce rates. Avoidant personality disorder symptoms were negatively associated with the number of divorces. The higher the level of symptoms the fewer divorces were observed. The next question is: Why do we have these findings? With paranoid personality disorder, we see characteristics like suspiciousness, hostility, and jealousy, so it’s not surprising looking at those characteristics that they would interfere in a marital relationship. With histrionic personality disorder, we see attention-seeking behavior, inappropriate sexually seductive behavior, and rapidly shifting and shallow emotions. Again, just looking at the symptoms associated with histrionic personality disorder, it’s not surprising that that disorder would interfere with a marital relationship. Also, with histrionic personality disorder, we oftentimes see this desire to have a number of close relationships. Individuals with this disorder are oftentimes searching for intimacy with a number of people and again it’s easy to connect this to the idea of marital disruption and of course eventually possibly divorce. Avoidant personality disorder has a negative association with divorce, which potentially could be explained by symptoms like not being assertive, social inhibition, and avoiding the criticizing of others. All these factors could lead to somebody avoiding divorce.
Disney, K. L., Weinstein, Y., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2012). Personality disorder symptoms are differentially related to divorce frequency. Journal of Family Psychology, 26(6), 959-965. doi:10.1037/a0030446