Personality Disorders: An Overview
by Robert Bittner
Personality disorders are chronic mental illnesses that can range from mildly unsettling to severe. They arise from a person’s home environment, as well as from genetic and chemical causes. Treatment options include psychotherapy (counseling), medicines, and self-help approaches. Some people may need the personalized attention that only hospitalization can provide.
A personality disorder must fulfill several criteria. They cannot be diagnosed just on the basis of one characteristic. People with personality disorders have an inflexible pattern of understanding people, thinking, and behaving that makes it difficult to adjust to their environment. This is serious enough to affect their functioning. But, in some cases, people with personality disorders may not think they have a problem or may not want to change. Personality disorders are usually recognizable by adolescence and continue throughout adulthood, and they become less obvious throughout middle age.
The following information is an overview of ten clinically diagnosed personality disorders and their symptoms.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
With antisocial personality disorder, there is a pattern of disregarding or actually violating others’ rights, which usually includes most of the following:
Avoidant Personality Disorder
A pattern of feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity, and social inhibition, which usually involves:
Borderline Personality Disorder
With borderline personality disorder, there is a pattern of instability and shallowness in one’s personal relationships, usually related to one’s self-image and marked by:
Dependent Personality Disorder
A chronic need to be taken care of along with a fear of being abandoned. Symptoms include:
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Excessive emotionality and attention seeking, demonstrated by:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A chronic need for admiration, a lack of empathy with others, and absorption with oneself, usually including:
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
With obsessive compulsive personality disorder, there is a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control—at the expense of flexibility and efficiency—demonstrated by:
Paranoid Personality Disorder
A pattern of distrust and suspicion, often demonstrated by:
Schizoid Personality Disorder
A pattern of being detached from and unemotional in social relationships, demonstrated by:
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
A pattern of acute discomfort with close relationships, combined with distortions of thought and perception, and eccentric behavior, demonstrated by:
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association. DSM IV TR. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Factsheet: personality disorders. Mental Health America website. Available at: http://www.mentalh... . Updated November 2008. Accessed August 6, 2008.
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