What are personality disorders?
For people without a personality disorder, personality traits are patterns of thinking,
reacting, and behaving that remain relatively consistent and stable over time. People
with a personality disorder display more rigid thinking and reacting behaviors that
make it hard for them to adapt to a situation. These behaviors often disrupt their
personal, professional, and social lives.
What are the most common types of personality disorders?
Generally, personality disorders are divided into 3 subtypes (or clusters), and include
Examples of odd/eccentric (Cluster A) personality disorders
Paranoid personality disorder. People with this disorder are often cold, distant, and unable to form close, interpersonal
relationships. Often overly, yet unjustifiably, suspicious of their surroundings,
people with paranoid personality disorder generally cannot see their role in conflict
situations. Instead, they often project their feelings of paranoia as anger onto others.
Schizoid personality disorder. People with this disorder are often cold, distant, introverted, and have an intense
fear of intimacy and closeness. People with schizoid personality disorder are absorbed
in their own thinking and daydreaming. Because of this, they exclude themselves from
attachment to people and reality.
Schizotypal personality disorder. Similar to those with schizoid personality disorder, people with this disorder are
often cold, distant, introverted, and have an intense fear of intimacy and closeness.
Yet, with schizotypal personality disorder, people also show disordered thinking,
perception, and ineffective communication skills. Many symptoms of schizotypal personality
disorder resemble schizophrenia, but are less intense and intrusive.
Examples of dramatic/erratic (Cluster B) personality disorders
Borderline personality disorder. People with this disorder are not stable in their perceptions of themselves, and
have difficulty keeping stable relationships. Moods may also be inconsistent, but
never neutral. Their sense of reality is always seen in "black and white." People
with borderline personality disorder often feel as though they lacked a certain level
of nurturing while growing up. As a result, they constantly 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.
Antisocial personality disorder. People 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 regret or guilt
for any of their destructive actions.
Narcissistic personality disorder. People with this disorder present severely overly-inflated feelings of self-worth,
grandness, and superiority over others. People with narcissistic personality disorder
often exploit others who fail to admire them. They are overly sensitive to criticism,
judgment, and defeat.
Histrionic personality disorder. People with this disorder are overly conscious of their appearance and are constantly
seeking attention. They also often behave dramatically in situations that do not warrant
this type of reaction. The emotional expressions of people with histrionic personality
disorder are often judged as superficial and exaggerated.
Examples of anxious/inhibited (Cluster C) personality disorders
Dependent personality disorder. People with this disorder rely heavily on others for validation and fulfillment of
basic needs. They are often unable to properly care for themselves. People with dependent
personality disorder lack self-confidence and security, and have a hard time making
Avoidant personality disorder. People with this disorder are hypersensitive to rejection. Because of this, they avoid
situations with any possible conflict. This reaction is fear-driven. People with avoidant
personality disorder become disturbed by their own social isolation, withdrawal, and
inability to form close, interpersonal relationships.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. People with this disorder are inflexible to change. They are bothered by a disrupted
routine due to their obsession for order. They experience anxiety and have trouble
completing tasks and making decisions. People with obsessive-compulsive personality
disorder often become uncomfortable in situations that are beyond their control. They
have difficulty maintaining positive, healthy interpersonal relationships as a result.
Treatment for personality disorders
Specific treatment for each personality disorder will be determined by your health
care provider based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history
Type and severity of symptoms
Extent of the disease
Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
Expectations for the course of the disease
Your opinion or preference
Personality disorders are often difficult to treat. They may need long-term attention
to change the inappropriate behavior and thought patterns. Treatment may include: