There was a time in psychology when therapists were held in low esteem for passing any type of judgment on the beliefs or attitudes their patients held. But in the age of character disturbance, no self-respecting therapist can avoid not only recognizing but also confronting the dysfunctional beliefs that inevitably damage relationships.

If someone’s behavior and impulse control problems are truly a problem of chemistry, then appropriate medication (and supportive counseling) is what’s indicated. But if the problem is primarily one of character, then the person’s way of looking at the world – the various ways they think about things, the attitudes they hold, etc. – all need to be confronted and corrected in within a highly specialized treatment framework.

Whether or not we choose to ignore or discount the fact, character always has and always will matter. It matters in every aspect of our lives, from our relationships, to our work endeavors, to our civic duties. So let’s do our best to make it “cool” to talk about, focus on, and especially promote character once again.

As I first suggested is true of conditions like character disturbance, we have recently come to realize that many conditions, especially autism, exist along a continuum of intensity and severity.

Upon hearing the term “disorder,” many folks infer that a genuine disease process is at work that in some measure relieves a person from full culpability. But in fact only a handful of clinical illnesses can potentially render a person not fully responsible for their behavior.

Because we live in the age of entitlement, there are far too many among us who think that respect is a fundamental right as opposed to something that rightfully need be earned. Folks with an entitlement mentality often demand respect, even when they’ve habitually conducted themselves in a manner that doesn’t merit it.

Perhaps no two concepts in psychology are as confusing at times as personality and character. That’s in part because the definitions of both terms have evolved over time. But it’s also because certain misconceptions about the terms have persisted over the years not just in the minds of the general public but also in among professionals.

Misperceptions abound about why people commit serious crimes and eventually find their way into prison. Some of the misconceptions have been around a long time and persist despite mounds of evidence to the contrary.