Personality Disorders are long-standing patterns of thinking and behavior that lead to problems in interpersonal relationships and may cause impairment or distress in the person with the disorder.
A personality disorder may reflect a potentially disruptive combination of personality traits, such as low agreeableness or high narcissism, that make it more difficult for someone to get along smoothly with others in life or dispose the person to treat others poorly. In practice, however, personality disorders are typically defined in terms of sets of signs and symptoms that reflect the harm or difficulty stemming from a person’s way of being.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes 10 personality disorders, grouped into three clusters.
For more information, see Personality Disorders.
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Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by odd or eccentric patterns of thinking. These may include persistent suspiciousness of or disinterest in other people or strange beliefs that are not better attributed to a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.
Paranoid Personality Disorder involves a distrust of other people in various areas of one’s life. Potential signs include irrational suspicions that one is being manipulated by others, that others are untrustworthy, or that others are communicating hidden threats or insults.
Schizoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of detachment from social relationships in general and limited emotional expression in social settings. It may involve a lack of desire for close relationships, an overwhelming preference for solitude, or a lack of apparent concern about others’ praise or criticism.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder involves a discomfort with and limited capacity for having close relationships along with cognitive or perceptual abnormalities—which may include magical beliefs (such as in telepathy) that influence behavior, false beliefs that events are directly related to them, or social anxiety due to paranoid fears.
Cluster B personality disorders are marked by unstable emotional states and erratic behavior. For those with such disorders, the propensity to lash out or to try to manipulate others, along with other behaviors, can cause major disruption in interpersonal relationships.
Antisocial Personality Disorder is a pattern of disregard for others’ rights, which can show up in behaviors such as repeated criminal activity, fighting, or lying, a tendency to act impulsively and failure to plan ahead, and a lack of remorse. Psychopathy and sociopathy, while not defined in exactly the same way, are related personality concepts.
Borderline Personality Disorder is defined by instability in a person’s relationships, sense of self, and emotional state, as well as impulsivity (such as in risky sexual behavior or drug use). People with this disorder may have a history of troubled relationships and swing between extreme positive and negative views of other people.
Histrionic Personality Disorder is marked by excessive attention-seeking and emotional expression. This may involve inappropriate, provocative behavior, theatricality, and a discomfort with not being the focus of attention.
Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder shows, in a variety of areas of life, a grandiose sense of self and need for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It may involve arrogant behavior, exploitativeness, and a belief that one deserves special treatment. Though defined differently, it is related to the personality trait of narcissism.
Cluster C personality disorders involve ingrained ways of thinking and relating to others that are colored by anxiety and fear.
Someone with Avoidant Personality Disorder tends to resist getting close to other people (which can include romantic partners) and fears the negative evaluations of others. The potential for rejection or embarrassment and perceived inadequacy may be frequent concerns.
Dependent Personality Disorder involves an excessive need to be taken care of by others—to have others make decisions or assume responsibility, for example—that leads to fear of separation. Someone with this disorder may struggle to disagree with a partner or act in a submissive way so as not to jeopardize a relationship.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is marked by perfectionism and a demand for order and control, which can manifest in a counterproductive fixation on rules and details and a devotion to work that crowds out other parts of one’s life. It is distinct from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is not a personality disorder.