Our personality refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we regularly exhibit over a long period. Our personality not only determines who we are but also governs how we see and interact with the world around us. When a personality causes distress, becomes maladaptive, or impairs one's relationships or occupation then it is said to be dysfunctional and is referred to as a “personality disorder.”
Unlike other disorders in psychiatry, like mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders are given special consideration. They are even placed in their own category, referred to as an Axis. Personality disorders are considered Axis II disorders, whereas depression, phobias, ocd, and bipolar disorder as well as most other psychological conditions are all categorized as Axis I disorders.
In addition to being exceedingly difficult to treat, personality disorders affect all aspects of a person’s behavior. There are no quick fixes or single pill solutions to repairing a “broken personality”.
The DSM of psychiatry defines a personality disorder as, “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, and leads to significant distress and impairment.”
It goes on to identify ten personality disorders along with the key features and diagnostic criteria for each. It is estimated that around 9% of the U.S. population suffers with a personality disorder. The causes of these disorders are believed to be both biological and social.
Below are the names of each of the ten personality disorders along with the fundamental or hallmark features of each.
- Paranoid Personality Characterized by irrational suspicions and mistrust of others.
- Schizoid Personality Characterized by a lack of interest in others and flat emotions.
- Schizotypal Personality Characterized by odd behavior and magical thinking
- Antisocial Personality Characterized by a blatant disregard for the rights of others and an absence of remorse.
- Histrionic Personality Characterized by attention-seeking behavior and exaggerated emotions.
- Borderline Personality Characterized by "black and white" thinking, impulsivity, and reckless behavior.
- Narcissistic Personality Characterized by a need for admiration and a lack of empathy.
- Dependent Personality Characterized by extreme dependence on other people.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Characterized by conformity to rules and excessive orderliness.
- Avoidant Personality Characterized by feelings of inadequacy and avoidance of social situations.
This is only a brief description of the ten personality disorders. The DSM describes each of these disorders in depth and provides a complete list of the diagnostic features. Only a psychiatrist or an experienced mental health practitioner can diagnose a personality disorder.
For more information on personality disorders visit, the National Library of Medicine at the National Institute for Health website.
Source material: APA 2000, DSM-IV, NIH.gov