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Dysfunctional Thinking Personality Types

Danica Joan January 17, 2022

Patterns of dysfunctional thinking commonly point to some typical personality types. Four such personality types are the Pessimist, the Faultfinder, the Victim, and the Perfectionist. Most of us have a tendency to fall into at least one of the following categories:

The Pessimist

The pessimist has a dysfunctional thinking personality type found in many people who are prone to negativity. The pessimist’s predominant tendencies include:

  • Anticipating negative outcomes
  • Fear or the future, and
  • Catastrophizing

The pessimist is forever hyper-vigilant, watching with concern for signs of trouble. “What if?” is a phrase familiar the pessimist.

Instead of “What if?” you can say: “So what?” “I can handle this.” “I can be anxious and still do this.” “This may be daunting, but I can tolerate a little anxiety, knowing that it will pass.” “I’ll get used to this with practice.” “I can retreat if necessary.”

The Faultfinder

Faultfinders have a dysfunctional thinking personality type that is constantly judging and evaluating their own behavior, pointing out flaws and limitations whenever possible. In order to portray inadequacy or failure, the faultfinder pounces on any mistakes. The faultfinder typically uses comparison to bolster their own sense of self. For example, You should have gotten an A on that paper, like Sally. But at least you did better than Bob. He only got a C minus. “You could have done better” is a phrase familiar to the faultfinder.

Instead of “You could have done better,” you can say: “I’m OK the way I am.” “I am lovable and capable.” “I”m a unique and creative person.” ” I deserve the food things in life as much as anyone else.” “I accept and believe in myself.” ” I’m worthy of others’ respect.” “I’ve done as well as I could, for now.”

The Victim

The Victim has a dysfunctional thinking personality type that feels helpless or hopeless. Victims tend to believe that something within them is inherently wrong, deprived, defective, or unworthy. They always perceive insurmountable obstacles between them and their goals. Characteristically, the victim laments, complains, and regrets life’s situations. “I’ll never be able to” is a phrase familiar to the victim.

Instead of, “I’ll never be able to,” you can say: “I don’t have to be all-better tomorrow.” “I can continue to make progress one step at a time.” “I acknowledge the progress that I’ve made and will continue to improve.” “It’s never too late to change.” “I”m willing to see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.” “I”m in control of my own behaviors.”

The Perfectionist

The perfectionist has a dysfunctional thinking personality type similar to that of the faultfinder, typically self-critical. However, the motivation of the perfectionist is less to find fault but rather to improve. There is a grandiose desire to be special, and an intolerance of the un-specialness of setbacks. The perfectionist is dependent on external qualities, such as:

  • being accepted by others
  • attaining money and status
  • achieving career success, and
  • being pleasing and nice to others

The perfectionist often experiences stress, exhaustion, and burnout, by way of achievement and the drive for acceptance. “I have to” is a phrase familiar to the perfectionist.

Instead of “I have to,” you can say: “It’s OK to make mistakes.” “Life is too short to be taken too seriously.” “Setbacks are part of life and a necessary learning and growth experience.” “I don’t always have to be perfect.” “My needs and feelings are as important as anyone else’s.”