Personality Disorders

Personality Disorders

What are Personality Disorders?

There are many types of personality disorders, but generally those who live with a personality disorder have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving.

In some cases, someone may not realize that they have a personality disorder because their way of thinking and behaving seems natural to them. They may blame others for the challenges they face. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems in relationships, social activities, work and school.

Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types may become less obvious throughout middle age.

What Causes Personality Disorders?

The cause of personality disorders is unknown. However, genes and childhood experiences may play a role.

Some experts believe that people are genetically predisposed to personality disorders. Others believe environmental situations cause formation of personality disorders. One theory is that childhood events cause a person who is already genetically vulnerable to later develop a personality disorder.

What are Symptoms of Personality Disorders?

There are many types of personality disorders. Different personality disorder types must fulfill specific criteria. But inflexible patterns of relating and thinking that cause problems in important relationships are symptomatic of all personality disorders.

Types of Personality Disorders

There are many types of personality disorders, each with their own set of symptoms. It should be emphasized that these types are based on observation. Personality disorders rarely present in "textbook" form, instead blurring into one another. The three categories, or clusters, reflect how any one personality disorder diagnosis is likely to blur with other personality disorders within its same cluster.

Personality disorder types are grouped into three categories:

  • Suspicious – paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal and antisocial.
  • Emotional and impulsive – borderline, histrionic and narcissistic.
  • Anxious – avoidant, dependent and obsessive compulsive.

Some of the more commonly diagnosed personality disorders are paranoid personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive distrust of others, including even friends, family, and partners. As a result, this person is guarded, suspicious, and constantly on the lookout for clues or suggestions to validate his fears.

Borderline Personality Disorder

In borderline personality disorder (BPD or emotionally unstable PD), the person lacks a sense of self and experiences emptiness and fears abandonment. A pattern of intense but unstable relationships, emotional instability, outbursts of anger and violence (especially in response to criticism), and impulsive behavior are also characteristic. Suicidal threats and acts of self-harm are common.

Click here for the diagnostic criteria and types of personality disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

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