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Personality Disorders

Personality is the characteristic way in which an individual thinks, feels and behaves. It accounts for the ingrained behavior patters of the individual and allows the prediction of how he will act in particular circumstances.

Personality embraces a person’s mood, attitudes, and opinions and is most clearly expressed in his interactions with other people. A personality disorder is deeply ingrained, long-during, maladaptive and inflexible pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that either significantly impairs an individual’s social or occupational functioning or causes him subjective distress.

Personality disorders are not illnesses but rather are pronounced accentuations or variations of personality in one or more of its traits. Personality disorders are characterized by enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about oneself and the environment in ways that are maladaptive. The individual uses inflexible behavior patterns to fulfill his or her own needs and attain self-satisfaction, often at the expense of others and society in general.

It can be identified by a persuasive pattern of experience and behavior that is abnormal with respect to thinking, mood, personal relations and the control of impulses.  Most personality disorders begins as problems in personal development. People with personality disorders suffer a life that is not positive, proactive or fulfilling.

Personality disorders can also be defined as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual’s culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early childhood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment.

For persons without a personality disorder, personality traits are pattern of thinking, reacting and behaving that remain relatively consistent and stable over time. Persons with a personality disorder display more rigid and maladaptive thinking and reacting behaviors that disrupts their personal, professional and social lives.

Generally personality disorders are divided into three subtypes and include the following:






Odd / Eccentric

Paranoid personality disorder

Schizoid personality disorder

Schizotypal personality disorder


Dramatic / Erratic

Borderline personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder

Histrionic personality disorder


Anxious / Inhibited

Dependent personality disorder

Avoidant personality disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Individuals with personality disorders have many things in common:

  • Self-centeredness that manifests itself though a me-first, self-preoccupied attitude.
  • Lack of individual accountability that result in a victim mentality and blaming others, society and the universe for their problems.
  • Lack of perspective - taking and empathy.
  • Manipulative and exploitative behavior.
  • Unhappiness, suffering from depression and other mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Vulnerability to other mental disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive tendencies and panic attacks.
  • Distorted or superficial understanding of self and other’s perceptions, being unable to see his or her objectionable, unacceptable, disagreeable, or self-destructive behaviors or the issues that may have contributed to the personality disorder.
  • Socially maladaptive, changing the rules of the game, introducing new variables, or otherwise influencing the external world to conform to their own needs.

Therapists have the most difficulties with those suffering from personality disorders. They are difficult to please, block effective communication, avoid developing of a trusting relationship and cannot be relied upon for accurate history regarding problems or how they arose.

They usually require long-term attention to change the inappropriate behavior and thought patterns. This involves changing their thinking – about themselves, their relationships and the world. It also involves changing their behavior.


  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dependent Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder


Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder results in what is commonly known as a Sociopath. This disorder is defined by an ongoing disregard for the right of others, since the age of 15 years. Some examples of this disregard are reckless disregard for the safety of themselves or others, failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, deceitfulness such as repeated lying or deceit for personal profit or pleasure, and lack of remorse for actions that hurt other people in any way. Additionally, they must have evidence a Conduct Disorder before the age of 15 years, and must be at least 18 years old to receive this diagnosis.

Persons with this disorder characteristically disregard the feelings, property, authority and respect of others for their own personal gain. This may include violent or aggressive acts involving or targeting other individuals, without a sense of remorse or guilt for any of their destructive actions.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is where a person has an extreme fear of being judged negatively by other people, and suffers from a high level of social discomfort as a result. They tend to only enter into relationships where uncritical acceptance is almost guaranteed, undergo social withdrawal, suffer from low self-esteem, but have a great desire for affection and acceptance. However, they do not want the affection as much as they fear the rejection.

Persons with this disorder are hypersensitive to rejection and thus, avoid situations with any potential for conflict. This reaction is fear-driven, however persons with avoidance personality disorder become disturbed by their own social isolation, withdrawal and inability to form close, interpersonal relationships.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorders (BPD) is characterized by a pattern of unstable personal relationships, a self-image that is not well formed, and poor impulse control. The person suffering from BPD fears abandonment and will go to any lengths to prevent this, including threats of suicide and self-harm.

Persons with this disorder present instability in their perception of themselves, have difficulty maintaining stable relationships. Moods may also be inconsistent, but never neutral – their sense of reality is always seen in “black and white.” They often feel as though they lacked a certain level of nurturing while growing up and, as a result incessantly seek a higher level of caretaking from others as adults. This may be achieved through manipulation of others, leaving them often feeling empty, angry, and abandoned, which may lead to desperate and impulsive behavior.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent personality disorder is manifested via passively allowing others to assume responsibility for major areas of ones life due to lack of self-confidence or lack of ability to function independently. This leads to the person making their own needs secondary to the needs of others, and then becoming dependent on them. While everyone is dependent on others for some parts of their lives, those with dependent personality disorders are dependent on almost all major areas of their lives, and view themselves poorly, and good only as extensions of others.

Persons with this disorder rely heavily on others for validation and fulfillment of basic needs. Often unable to properly care for themselves, they lack self-confidence and security and are deficient in making decisions.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

A person who is always calling attention to themselves, who are lively, and overly dramatic, characterizes histrionic Personality Disorder. They are overly dramatic, and minor situations can cause wild swings in emotions. They easily become bored with normal routines, and crave new, novel situations and excitement. In relationships, they form bonds quickly, but the relationships are often shallow, with the person demanding increasing amounts of attention.

Persons with this disorder are over overly conscious of their appearance, are constantly seeking attention, and often behave dramatically in situations that do not warrant this type of reaction. The emotional expressions of persons with histrionic personality disorder are often judged as superficial and exaggerated.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is a disorder in which a person has a grandiose self-importance, preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, a driven desire for attention and admiration, and intolerance of criticism, and disturbed self-centered interpersonal relations. They are often referred to as being conceited. They generally have a low self-esteem as well. They act selfish interpersonally, with a sense of entitlement.

Persons with this disorder present severely overly inflated feelings of self-worth, grandiosity, and superiority over others. They often exploit others who fail to admire them, and are overly sensitive to criticism, judgment and defeat.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by a person who has a decreased ability to show warm and tender emotions, a perfectionism that decreases the ability to see the larger picture, difficulty in doing things any way but their own, and an excessive devotion to work, as well as indecisiveness. Essentially everything must be just right, and nothing can be left to chance.

Persons with this disorder are inflexible to change and bothered by a disruptive routine due to their obsession for order. Thus, they experience anxiety and have trouble completing tasks and making decisions. They often become uncomfortable in situations that are beyond their control and have difficulty maintaining positive, healthy interpersonal relationships as a result.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality disorder essentially is an ongoing, un-based suspiciousness and distrust of people. Along with this, the person suffering from PPD is emotionally detached.

Persons suffering with this disorder are often cold, distant, and unable to form close interpersonal relationships. Often overly, yet unjustifiably suspicious of their surrounding, they generally cannot see their role in conflict situations and often project their feelings of paranoia as anger onto others.

In order to have this diagnosis, the person would have to have seen others as having malevolent intentions, by early adulthood in different situations, as indicated by a number of factors. These factors include: suspicion that others are exploiting, or deceiving them, that others may not be loyal or trustworthy, believes there are threats or attacks on their character in innocent statements that others do not see, and bears persistent grudges. Additionally, this is not a diagnosis that would be used if the person also has Paranoid Schizophrenia, a separate diagnosis, for example, among other diagnosis, which would exclude it.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

A person with Schizoid personality disorder has minimal social relationships, expresses few emotions (especially those of warmth and tenderness) and appears not to care about the praise or criticism of others. They appear absentminded and aloof, but are actually very shy. While they do not well in contact groups, they may excel when placed in positions where they have minimal contact with others.

Persons with his disorder are often cold, distant, introverted and have an intense fear of intimacy and closeness. They are usually so absorbed in their own thinking and daydreaming that they exclude themselves from attachment and reality.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal personality disorder is marked by a lack of, and reduced capacity for, social and interpersonal relationships. The person with this disorder also has cognitive distortions and eccentricities of behavior. They often have magical thinking (if I think this, I can make that happen), paranoia, and other seemingly strange thoughts. They may talk to themselves, dress inappropriately, and are very sensitive to criticism.

Similar to Schizoid personality disorder, persons with this disorder are often cold, distant, introverted and have an intense fear of intimacy and closeness. Yet with schizotypal personality disorder, persons also exhibit disordered thinking, perception, and ineffective communication skills. Many symptoms of resemble schizophrenia but are less mild and intrusive.


By Meeka O'Brien



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