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. They are often overly suspicious
of their surroundings without good reason. People with paranoid personality disorder
generally can't 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 look like 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. They
have trouble 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. This may lead to desperate and impulsive
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 don't 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 often can't 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 very sensitive to rejection. Because of this, they avoid
situations with any possible conflict. This reaction is fear-driven. People with this
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 adverse to change. They are bothered by a disrupted
routine due to their obsession for order. They have anxiety and trouble completing
tasks and making decisions. People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
often become uncomfortable in situations that are beyond their control. They have
trouble maintaining positive, healthy interpersonal relationships as a result.
Treatment for personality disorders
Specific treatment for each personality disorder will be determined by your healthcare
provider based on your age, overall health, and medical history.
Personality disorders are often hard to treat. They may need long-term attention to
change the inappropriate behavior and thought patterns. Treatment may include:
People with personality disorders may need to try a number of therapists and types
of therapies before they find a combination that works.