Are you concerned you may have a personality disorder? Or do you think that a friend, family member, or ex-spouse may?
There are many comprehensive tests that have been designed for detecting personality disorders. Unfortunately, few are available for online use by the general public.
A couple of weeks ago, I found an online personality disorder test  and spent some time examining and experimenting with it. Knowing what I’ve learned about personality disorders, I can see the point of a lot of the questions on the test. So at first glance, it seems like a genuine effort and not a joke or half-brained effort.
Testing the Test
Based upon taking the test and varying the answers according to people I know fairly well, I think it comes up with some reasonable estimates of the probability of a person having one or more of the 10 personality disorders discussed in DSM-IV, the mental health professional’s guide to diagnosing mental illnesses. So I’d say that this test could likely give an idea of what kinds of personality disorders, if any, might affect a person.
I answered the questions honestly as I perceive myself. The results were that I have a low probability of having any personality disorder. I’m so perfect, and the test shows it!
(That’s mock narcissistic humor, in case you hadn’t noticed. 😉 )
How a Person Affected by an Abusive Relationship May Score
Next, I asked a friend of mine to take the test a few different ways. He’s a troubled guy, not because there’s really anything wrong with his personality but because of the effects of a really bad marriage that turned into an even worse divorce.
When my friend took the test and answered thinking about how he has been impacted due to the problems with his ex, he scored “low” for all personality disorders except for “high” for paranoid personality disorder. Looking at his answers, I can understand why he has trouble trusting people and is suspicious of their motives. His ex gave him plentiful reasons to think that way, from affairs to false allegations to parental alienation to criminal behaviors. She continues to do so even after their divorce.
Then I asked him to take the test again, this time thinking about his family and friends excluding anybody “touched by the evil ex.” This time he scored “low” for all personality disorders. Apparently he’s not so paranoid about people who haven’t been influenced by his ex.
Keep in mind that this test doesn’t attempt to assess Axis I disorders at all, just Axis II personality disorders. He’s depressed, traumatized, anxious, and uneasy a lot of the time, especially when his ex is on the attack. I’d venture that most people would feel similarly given the circumstances, and that also tends to indicate that even though he’s conscious of being very worried about what his ex will do for her next stunt that he’s probably not really a paranoid person.
How an Abusive Person as Viewed By His/Her Victim May Score
He’s of the opinion that his ex has one or more personality disorders. From our discussions, I suspected she could be diagnosed with one or more of Borderline, Antisocial, Paranoid, Narcissistic, and Histrionic personality disorders. He agrees all of those are possibilities, but thinks the Borderline Personality Disorder is the most likely from his experiences with her over the years. He characterizes her as a pathological liar who has abandonment issues and is very manipulative and deceitful, but is good enough at it that he didn’t find out how skilled at deceit and manipulative she is until after many years of knowing her.
As I mentioned, my friend has a few Axis I disorders. They appear to originate from being abused and traumatized and would probably dissipate if his ex were to drop off the face of the planet. Unfortunately for him, even though he thinks she’s a Borderline, he doesn’t think she’s one of the “acting in” types and so thinks she’s not likely to end her life by suicide. Instead, she’s an “acting out” type who drives people around her crazy by playing on their emotions, picking fights, blaming, projecting, and engaging in distortion campaigns  complete with false allegations to law enforcement. So he’s likely going to have years more trouble, especially until their children are adults or they turn against their mother as many children of mothers like her are apt to do.
Next, I asked him to take the test answering the questions as if he was his ex. This is where it got really interesting. Here is what the results looked like:
In discussing these questions and results with him, he pointed out that his ex probably wouldn’t see herself as he does. He thinks she’s in denial about her mental illnesses. So I asked him to try to answer the questions as he thinks she would. Here are the results:
He realizes she doesn’t see herself as he does, and that’s reflected by the differences in the two sets of results. This points out that any kind of psychological testing is highly dependent upon objective answers. It’s particularly interesting how his perception that she has BPD is very high yet his perception of what she thinks of herself is that she doesn’t have BPD. Maybe this is a sign of why diagnosing BPD is so difficult to do without input from other people beyond the patient.
Well-designed psychological tests are set up to make it more difficult to answer without showing some kind of high score on an inconsistency or dishonesty index. This test doesn’t appear to have enough questions to provide any such integrity checks. Having taken professional psychological tests in the past, it’s clear that having only 99 questions is on the short side for a broad psychological assessment test. Part of the reason for that is the integrity checks and multiple ways to ask similar questions attempting to elucidate fine differences in meaning and perception.
So don’t take this test as gospel, but it’s definitely worth something if you’re trying to figure out whether you or a person you know may have a personality disorder. It’s best to consult a qualified mental health professional (or a few of them — it’s sometimes hard to know which ones are truly qualified without a few sessions to judge) for further evaluation if you suspect there may be a problem.
Even though you cannot get a reliable diagnosis from this test, that should not stop you from using the insights you gain. Combine them with some reading about how to heal yourself from such problems or to better deal with such people and you’ll make some progress at improving your situation whatever it may be.