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How body language assists psychologist in diagnosis of personality disorder

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History of body language:

No other than Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, himself. He was the first man to study the body language of humans and animals in his book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” in 1872.

Body language was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement. His ideas over several decades were synthesized and resulted in the book, Kinesics and Context.

In 1967 Albert Mehrabian (born 1939 to an Armenian family in Iran), currently Professor Emeritus of PsychologyUCLA, has become known best by his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages. His findings on inconsistent messages of feelings and attitudes have been misquoted and misinterpreted throughout human communication seminars worldwide, and have also become known as the 7%-38%-55% Rule, for the relative impact of words, tone of voice, and body language when speaking..


body language that accompany our simple or primary emotions—anger and fear, surprise and disgust, joy and sadness, and other more complex emotions, too. Darwin terms these facial expressions and body language “the language of the emotions,” and deems them a product of natural selection, a process of evolution (charles Darwin,1872).

Body language “kinesics” is the interpretation of body motion communication such as facial expressions and gestures, nonverbal behavior related to movement of any part of the body or the body as a whole ( Ray Birdwhistell, 1952).

Body language is Nonverbal communication between people is communication through sending and receiving wordless clues (Andersen, Peter 2007).

The aspects of body language are face, eye contact, gesture, posture, body movements.

  1. Face: The face and eyes are the most expressive means of body communication. It can facilitate or hamper feedback.
  2. Eye contact: It is the most powerful form of non-verbal communication. It builds emotional relationship between listener and speaker.
  3. Gesture: It is the motion of the body to express the speech.
  4. Posture: The body position of an individual conveys a variety of messages.
  5. Body movement: Used to understand what people are communicating with their gestures and posture.


psychoanalytic theory of personality argues that human behavior is the result of the interactions among three component parts of the mind: the id, ego, and superego.

he id (Latin for “it GermanEs)[  is the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives. Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth. It is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives. The id contains the libido, which is the primary source of instinctual force that is unresponsive to the demands of reality (Laplanche, JeanPontalis, Jean-Bertrand ,1973).

The ego (Latin “I”, GermanIch) acts according to the reality principle; i.e. it seeks to please the id’s drive in realistic ways that will benefit in the long term rather than bring grief.( Mead, Merrill February 1984).

The super-ego (GermanÜber-Ich) reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence  (Schacter, Daniel (2009). Freud developed his concept of the super-ego from an earlier combination of the ego ideal and the “special psychical agency which performs the task of seeing that narcissistic satisfaction from the ego ideal is ensured … what we call our ‘conscience’.”  (Freud, On Metapsychology p. 89-90).

How body language related to personality disorder?

Every personality has its way of thinking that influence behavior, emotion and feeling.

It is difficult to some cases express their emotions and feeling but their unconscious gestures, movements and sign do.

Importance of study:

An ability to read body language of cases has positive outcome:

It helps to simplify contact when speech is difficult for a person with disorder.e.g

Person under the influence of shock.

It develops a meaningful and trustworthy relationship between psychologist and patients and, thus, is beneficial to both of them. The diagnostic capability of the psychologist is greatly enhanced because of better understanding of patient’s problems.

Patient’s level of satisfaction is improved by better recognition and understanding of their ailment and the treatment available. This further increases their compliance to the advices given by the psychologist.


To assist psychologist diagnosis patient personality disorder

To reveal an important information for diagnosis and treatment decision.

To shorten time and effort in exploring patients who able to hide their disorder.

To Stimulate the response to treatment process through the interaction of doctor with patient’s emotional state by tone of voice, signal and facial expression.

To assist psychologist in making control on patient’s behavior by knowing weaknesses.

to understand society culture that might affect personality

e.g . religious culture.

To assist psychologist in treatment by shooting facial expression and signals of complicated patient.

Research question

How body language assists psychologist to diagnosis personality disorder?

What are the nonverbal communication skills that psychologist should be mastered?

How much body language in diagnosis of personality disorder?

Research hypotheses

Personality disorder is difficult to diagnose.

Body language help to explore personality disorder.

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