In 1994, a best-selling children’s book was published titled An Elephant in the Living Room, to help children learn about alcoholism—a topic that had been taboo to discuss or even acknowledge. It wasn’t just children who weren’t discussing it, most adults hesitated to talk about it for fear of upsetting the person with alcoholism, their family, their workplace, or their community. Yet over the past few decades, our society has learned a great deal about alcoholism, including how to recognize it, set limits on it, and treat it. We are now at a similar point in history in regard to personality disorders—a topic that has been taboo to talk about or even acknowledge up to the present, even though as of 2022 the diagnostic manual of mental health professionals indicates that over 10 percent of the adult population has a personality disorder.
This has become a public health problem comparable to alcoholism in its ability to ruin the lives of those who have it, those close to them, those professionals working with them, and society at large. The time has come for all professionals, especially those involved in legal disputes, workplace conflicts, and child and family problems, to learn about personality disorders, talk about them openly, and take their significant issues into account in their work.