Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders are mental illnesses that share several unique qualities. They contain symptoms that are enduring and play a major role in most, if not all, aspects of the person's life.  While many disorders vacillate in terms of symptom presence and intensity, personality disorders typically remain relatively constant.

Personality disorders are pervasive chronic psychological disorders, which can greatly affect a person's life. Having a personality disorder can negatively affect one's work, one's family, and one's social life. Personality disorders exists on a continuum so they can be mild to more severe in terms of how pervasive and to what extent a person exhibits the features of a particular personality disorder. While most people can live pretty normal lives with mild personality disorders ( or more simply, personality traits ), during times of increased stress or external pressures ( work, family, a new relationship, etc. ), the symptoms of the personality disorder will gain strength and begin to seriously interfere with their emotional and psychological functioning.

Those with a personality disorder possess several distinct psychological features including disturbances in self-image; ability to have successful interpersonal relationships; appropriateness of range of emotion, ways of perceiving themselves, others, and the world; and difficulty possessing proper impulse control. These disturbances come together to create a pervasive pattern of behavior and inner experience that is quite different from the norms of the individual's culture and that often tend to be expressed in behaviors that appear more dramatic than what society considers usual. Therefore, those with a personality disorder often experience conflicts with other people and vice-versa. There are ten different types of personality disorders that exist, which all have various emphases. ( See below )

There are as many potential causes of personality disorders as there are people who suffer from them. They may be caused by a combination of parental upbringing, one's personality and social development, as well as genetic and biological factors. Research has not narrowed down the cause to any factor at this time. We do know, however, that these disorders will most often manifest themselves during increased times of stress and interpersonal difficulties in one's life. Therefore, treatment most often focuses on increasing one's coping mechanisms and interpersonal skills.

We have developed the information here to act as a comprehensive guide to help you better understand the various personality disorders and find out more information about them on your own. Choose from among the categories at left to begin your journey into recovery from these treatable disorders.
To be diagnosed with a disorder in this category, a psychologist will look for the following criteria:

  • Symptoms have been present for an extended period of time, are inflexible and pervasive, and are not a result of alcohol or drugs or another psychiatric disorder. The history of symptoms can be traced back to adolescence or at least early adulthood.
  • The symptoms have caused and continue to cause significant distress or negative consequences in different aspects of the person's life.
  • Symptoms are seen in at least two of the following areas:
    • Thoughts ( Ways of looking at the world, thinking about self or others, and interacting ).
    • Emotions ( Appropriateness, intensity, and range of emotional functioning ).
    • Interpersonal Functioning ( Relationships and interpersonal skills ).
    • Impulse Control.
Personality Disorders
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder:  Lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture, marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules.  Sometimes called psychopaths or sociopath's.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder:  Marked social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and extremely sensitive to criticism.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder:  Lack of one's own identity, with rapid changes in mood, intense unstable interpersonal relationships, marked impulsively, instability in affect and in self image.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder Extreme need of other people, to a point where the person is unable to make any decisions or take an independent stand on his or her own. Fear of separation and submissive behavior. Marked lack of decisiveness and self-confidence.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder:  Exaggerated and often inappropriate displays of emotional reactions, approaching theatricality, in everyday behavior. Sudden and rapidly shifting emotion expressions.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder:  Behavior or a fantasy of grandiosity, a lack of empathy, a need to be admired by others, an inability to see the viewpoints of others, and hypersensitive to the opinions of others.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:  Characterized by perfectionism and inflexibility; preoccupation with uncontrollable patterns of thought and action.
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder:  Marked distrust of others, including the belief, without reason, that others are exploiting, harming, or trying to deceive him or her; lack of trust; belief of others' betrayal; belief in hidden meanings; unforgiving and grudge holding.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder Primarily characterized by a very limited range of emotion, both in expression of and experiencing; indifferent to social relationships.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder:   Peculiarities of thinking, odd beliefs, and eccentricities of appearance,  behavior, interpersonal style, and thought ( e.g., belief in psychic phenomena and having magical powers ).

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