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Personality disorder not otherwise specified


About once a year, I run into someone (usually at a client) who displays seriously maladaptive coping skills. Their behavior would get them run over in the parking lot at most companies, but for whatever reason,  nothing happens to them.  (Usually because they are protected by their superior, who has the same, or complimentary, personality issues).

Sometimes I publicize their bad behavior, just for fun, usually by copying key people on my calm reply to a horrific email from the offender. That way, I look reasonable, and they look like an idiot. I’m a consultant on temporary hire – they can’t do anything to me. If flak is directed my way, well, I wasn’t staying anyway. Sometimes it actually draws flak to the offender instead of to me. The rest of the time, it just reinforces what everyone already knew anyway.

Usually I can classify an offender’s bad behavior according to the DSM-IV handbook. You should read it, if you haven’t already. You would be surprised at how many descriptions you recognize among people you know. Actually, on second thought, do NOT read it. Being able to assign labels to people’s behavior does not necessarily make it easier to deal with them. It does make it easier to antagonize them, though, because you know where their weak spots are. (That would be passive-aggressive behavior, but passive-aggressive behavior has to be pervasive to be considered a disorder. I rarely do it, and only when it would serve a purpose to achieve a resolution of a problem at a client. Or if I’m bored.)

The DSM-IV is being reworked by a giant sworn-to-secrecy committee to create the DSM-V, which is due in 2013.This has provoked a long drawn-out fight, because the trend is to assign more and more labels to behaviors which used to be unlabeled (or “normal”). The justifiable fear is that these new labels will be used to (a.) legitimize behavior which was previously considered to be aberrant, and (b.) prescribe more medications for behavior which was previously considered to be normal, or at least not requiring medication.

I’m just hoping they don’t get rid of “Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,” because even though it’s a nondescriptive label, it seems to fit a lot of the fucked-up people I meet. According to at least one study, PDNOS is the third-most-diagnosed personality disorder. It’s used as a catch-all diagnosis, really, for behavior that’s a mix of things or which don’t fit neatly into one designation. I expect the PDNOS diagnosis will be used less in the future since the DSM-V will have a larger list of classifications.

Meanwhile, I like PDNOS because it fits right in with other acronyms I see used a lot in the IT world, such as:

  • PEBKAC (problem exists between keyboard and chair)
  • PICNIC (problem is in chair, not in computer)
  • ID10T (idiot)
  • Layer 8 issue (the non-existent “user” layer of the 7-layer Open Systems Interconnection model of computer networks)
  • wetware issue (biological bug)

So when a co-worker forwards me a horrific, hateful email from someone else with an expression of shock (0.O), I just reply: PDNOS.

  1. 2012-02-02T19:33:03-05:00 19:33

    We use the ID10t all the time at work. It’s so handy.


  2. katkasia permalink
    2012-02-01T00:19:49-05:00 00:19

    I’ll have to remember the PICNIC acronym – so often the case!


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