Personality Disorders

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People with personality disorders often have trouble relating to other people or the environment because of rigid or unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior. A person with a personality disorder often doesn’t recognize it and blames others for problems and challenges. This causes difficulties in social situations, relationships, school, and work.

Symptoms of Personality Disorders

There are several types of personality disorders, and they are grouped by characteristics and symptoms. Very often, a person will exhibit symptoms of multiple disorders.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Individuals with these conditions may exhibit odd or eccentric thinking or behaviors. These disorders and some of their symptoms include:

Paranoid Personality Disorder

  • Extreme lack of trust of other people and their intentions
  • Unjustified suspicions that someone is disloyal, untrustworthy, or trying to harm them
  • Tendency to hold grudges
  • Anger or over-the-top reactions to perceived insults or slights
  • Reluctance to share information with others because of a fear that it will be used against them

Schizoid Personality Disorder

  • Lack of interest in personal relationships or social situations
  • Inability to express one’s emotions or pick up on social cues
  • Appearance of being aloof or indifferent
  • Inability to experience pleasure or joy in most situations
  • Little to no interest in a sexual relationship

Schizotypal personality disorder

  • Odd or eccentric dress, thoughts, speech, or behavior
  • Lack of emotional response
  • Social anxiety
  • Lack of close relationships
  • Feelings that events outside one’s influence have an unusual personal significance or have been affected by one’s thoughts

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B disorders involve dramatic, emotional, erratic thoughts and behaviors. These conditions and some of their symptoms may include:

Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Seemingly complete disregard for the feelings of other people
  • Persistent deception, such as lying, stealing, or using an alternate identity
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Lack of regard for others’ rights
  • Lack of regard for the safety of others
  • Lack of remorse for one’s behavior

Borderline Personality Disorder

  • A pattern of taking personal risk, including having unsafe sex, excessive use of alcohol or drugs, or binge eating
  • Unstable self-image
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Frequent displays of rage
  • Intense, often unstable, relationships
  • Self-injury or suicidal behavior
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Occasional paranoia

Histrionic Personality Disorder

  • Persistent need for attention and behaving excessively emotional or dramatic to get it
  • Strong opinions that have little basis in fact
  • Inability to judge the closeness of a relationship or thinking it is closer than it is
  • Easily swayed by the actions and opinions of others
  • Rapidly shifting emotions
  • Excessive attention to appearance

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • Belief that one is more important that others
  • Exaggeration or lying about accomplishments
  • Expectation of the admiration of others
  • Being jealous of others or believing they are jealous of you
  • Arrogance
  • Unreasonable expectations of favors from others

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Individuals with Cluster C disorders experience excessive levels of anxiety and fear. These disorders and some of their symptoms include:

Avoidant Personality Disorder

  • Hypersensitivity to rejection or criticism
  • Feeling inadequate, lack of self-worth
  • Social anxiety to the point of isolation
  • Fear of embarrassment or ridicule
  • Fear of disappointment
  • Extreme shyness in social interactions and personal relationships

Dependent Personality Disorder

  • Excessive dependence on others or a persistent need to be taken care of
  • Clingy or submissive behavior
  • Persistent need for reassurance, even on small decisions
  • Fear of having to take care of oneself
  • Urgent need to replace old relationships with new ones
  • Tolerance of abuse or poor treatment
  • Difficulty expressing opposing opinions because of the fear of disapproval

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  • Extreme perfectionism to the point of distress or the inability to finish a project
  • Desire to be in control
  • Excessive need for orderliness
  • Inability to delegate tasks
  • Inability to throw away worthless objects
  • Need for excessive control over money

Causes of Personality Disorders

Personality forms early in life and is affected by genetics and the environment. While there is more to be learned, most researchers agree that personality disorders are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Your family history could make you more likely to develop a personality disorder, and your circumstances may be the spark for its development.

Treatment of Personality Disorders

While there are no cures for personality disorders, many people find relief in a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The specific types of treatment depend on the disorder, its severity, and an individual’s circumstances.