A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.
In some cases, you may not realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you. And you may blame others for the challenges you face.
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.
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Types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters, based on similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people with one personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder. It's not necessary to exhibit all the signs and symptoms listed for a disorder to be diagnosed.
Cluster A personality disorders
Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.
Paranoid personality disorder
- Pervasive distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
- Unjustified belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you
- Unjustified suspicion of the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
- Hesitancy to confide in others due to unreasonable fear that others will use the information against you
- Perception of innocent remarks or nonthreatening situations as personal insults or attacks
- Angry or hostile reaction to perceived slights or insults
- Tendency to hold grudges
- Unjustified, recurrent suspicion that spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful
Schizoid personality disorder
- Lack of interest in social or personal relationships, preferring to be alone
- Limited range of emotional expression
- Inability to take pleasure in most activities
- Inability to pick up normal social cues
- Appearance of being cold or indifferent to others
- Little or no interest in having sex with another person
Schizotypal personality disorder
- Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs, speech or behavior
- Odd perceptual experiences, such as hearing a voice whisper your name
- Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
- Social anxiety and a lack of or discomfort with close relationships
- Indifferent, inappropriate or suspicious response to others
- "Magical thinking" — believing you can influence people and events with your thoughts
- Belief that certain casual incidents or events have hidden messages meant only for you
Cluster B personality disorders
Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
Antisocial personality disorder
- Disregard for others' needs or feelings
- Persistent lying, stealing, using aliases, conning others
- Recurring problems with the law
- Repeated violation of the rights of others
- Aggressive, often violent behavior
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
- Impulsive behavior
- Consistently irresponsible
- Lack of remorse for behavior
Borderline personality disorder
- Impulsive and risky behavior, such as having unsafe sex, gambling or binge eating
- Unstable or fragile self-image
- Unstable and intense relationships
- Up and down moods, often as a reaction to interpersonal stress
- Suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury
- Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
- Ongoing feelings of emptiness
- Frequent, intense displays of anger
- Stress-related paranoia that comes and goes
Histrionic personality disorder
- Constantly seeking attention
- Excessively emotional, dramatic or sexually provocative to gain attention
- Speaks dramatically with strong opinions, but few facts or details to back them up
- Easily influenced by others
- Shallow, rapidly changing emotions
- Excessive concern with physical appearance
- Thinks relationships with others are closer than they really are
Narcissistic personality disorder
- Belief that you're special and more important than others
- Fantasies about power, success and attractiveness
- Failure to recognize others' needs and feelings
- Exaggeration of achievements or talents
- Expectation of constant praise and admiration
- Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others
- Envy of others or belief that others envy you
Cluster C personality disorders
Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
Avoidant personality disorder
- Too sensitive to criticism or rejection
- Feeling inadequate, inferior or unattractive
- Avoidance of work activities that require interpersonal contact
- Socially inhibited, timid and isolated, avoiding new activities or meeting strangers
- Extreme shyness in social situations and personal relationships
- Fear of disapproval, embarrassment or ridicule
Dependent personality disorder
- Excessive dependence on others and feeling the need to be taken care of
- Submissive or clingy behavior toward others
- Fear of having to provide self-care or fend for yourself if left alone
- Lack of self-confidence, requiring excessive advice and reassurance from others to make even small decisions
- Difficulty starting or doing projects on your own due to lack of self-confidence
- Difficulty disagreeing with others, fearing disapproval
- Tolerance of poor or abusive treatment, even when other options are available
- Urgent need to start a new relationship when a close one has ended
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- Preoccupation with details, orderliness and rules
- Extreme perfectionism, resulting in dysfunction and distress when perfection is not achieved, such as feeling unable to finish a project because you don't meet your own strict standards
- Desire to be in control of people, tasks and situations, and inability to delegate tasks
- Neglect of friends and enjoyable activities because of excessive commitment to work or a project
- Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
- Rigid and stubborn
- Inflexible about morality, ethics or values
- Tight, miserly control over budgeting and spending money
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, a type of anxiety disorder.
When to see a doctor
If you have any signs or symptoms of a personality disorder, see your doctor or other primary care professional or a mental health professional. Untreated, personality disorders can cause significant problems in your life that may get worse without treatment.
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Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that makes you unique. It's the way you view, understand and relate to the outside world, as well as how you see yourself. Personality forms during childhood, shaped through an interaction of:
- Your genes. Certain personality traits may be passed on to you by your parents through inherited genes. These traits are sometimes called your temperament.
- Your environment. This involves the surroundings you grew up in, events that occurred, and relationships with family members and others.
Personality disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of these genetic and environmental influences. Your genes may make you vulnerable to developing a personality disorder, and a life situation may trigger the actual development.
Although the precise cause of personality disorders is not known, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering personality disorders, including:
- Family history of personality disorders or other mental illness
- Abusive, unstable or chaotic family life during childhood
- Being diagnosed with childhood conduct disorder
- Variations in brain chemistry and structure
Personality disorders can significantly disrupt the lives of both the affected person and those who care about that person. Personality disorders may cause problems with relationships, work or school, and can lead to social isolation or alcohol or drug abuse.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Sept. 23, 2016
What are the causes of personality disorders? ›
- losing a parent or experiencing a sudden bereavement.
- emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
- being involved in major incidents or accidents.
A personality disorder refers to a long-term pattern of thinking, behaviour and emotion that is dysfunctional, extreme and inflexible. It causes distress and makes it difficult to function in everyday life. People with personality disorders find it hard to change their behaviour or adapt to different situations.What are the 10 personality disorders PDF? ›
Ten categories of disorders are described: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive–compulsive personality disorders.What causes personality disorders in the brain? ›
being a victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child. being neglected by 1 or both parents. growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or a drink or drug misuse problem.
Research suggests that genetics, abuse and other factors contribute to the development of obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic or other personality disorders. In the past, some believed that people with personality disorders were just lazy or even evil.What is the most common personality disorder? ›
Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, a type of anxiety disorder), is the most common personality disorder in the United States.What is a person with personality disorder like? ›
A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.How is a personality disorder diagnosed? ›
Your evaluation may include lab tests and a screening test for alcohol and drugs. Psychiatric evaluation. This includes a discussion about your thoughts, feelings and behavior and may include a questionnaire to help pinpoint a diagnosis. With your permission, information from family members or others may be helpful.What is the hardest personality disorder to treat? ›
Treating antisocial personality disorder
But antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult types of personality disorders to treat. A person with antisocial personality disorder may also be reluctant to seek treatment and may only start therapy when ordered to do so by a court.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is 1 of the 4 cluster B personality disorders, which also include antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and histrionic personality disorder (HPD).
What is the rarest personality disorder? ›
INFJ is the rarest personality type across the population, occurring in just 2% of the population. It is also the rarest personality type among men. INFJ stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. This unique combination is hard to find in most people.What personality disorder is no empathy? ›
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is associated with an assortment of characteristics that undermine interpersonal functioning. A lack of empathy is often cited as the primary distinguishing feature of NPD.What personality disorder is secretive? ›
Paranoid personality disorder:
They may be jealous, guarded, and secretive, appearing to be aloof and serious.
Socionics divides people into 16 different types, called sociotypes which are; ESTJ, ENTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ, INTJ, INFJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENTP, ENFP, ISTP, ISFP, INTP & INFP. A formal conversion is carried out following the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.What kind of trauma causes borderline personality disorder? ›
Stressful or traumatic life events
Often having felt afraid, upset, unsupported or invalidated. Family difficulties or instability, such as living with a parent or carer who experienced an addiction. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Losing a parent.
ESTJs have a tendency to think they are always right and that their moral compass is objective, absolute and universal.Does childhood trauma cause personality disorders in adults? ›
Does trauma increase a person's risk for developing a personality disorder? There is no definitive cause of personality disorders, but trauma does play a significant risk factor. Research recently revealed that victims of childhood trauma are 13 times more likely to develop borderline personality disorder as adults.Is personality disorder caused by brain damage? ›
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has long been known to be associated with changes in mood, personality, and behavior. The existing research has also contributed to the hypothesis that factors related directly to the TBI may be causative of these changes.What challenges do people with a personality disorder face? ›
- making or maintaining relationships.
- connecting with other people, including friends, family or work colleagues.
- managing and controlling your emotions.
- coping with life and difficult feelings.
- controlling your behaviours and impulses.
- Be patient.
- Don't judge.
- Be calm and consistent.
- Remind them of their positive traits.
- Set clear boundaries.
- Plan ahead.
- Learn their triggers.
- Provide distractions.
Are you born with personality disorder? ›
It's not clear exactly what causes personality disorders, but they're thought to result from a combination of the genes a person inherits and early environmental influences – for example, a distressing childhood experience (such as abuse or neglect).What is the most serious type of mental disorder? ›
By all accounts, serious mental illnesses include “schizophrenia-spectrum disorders,” “severe bipolar disorder,” and “severe major depression” as specifically and narrowly defined in DSM. People with those disorders comprise the bulk of those with serious mental illness.What is the difference between mental illness and personality disorder? ›
Key points. Mental illness is generally considered to cause impaired thinking and behavior without much personal control. People with personality disorders are often seen as having control over their own behavior, which frustrates family and friends.Do borderlines feel remorse? ›
Only remorse leads to a real apology and change. One of the hallmarks of people with Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (BP/NP) is that they often do not feel truly sorry. Even though a BP/NP may say he or she is sorry, there is often something lacking.What medications treat personality disorder? ›
There is not one single medication approved by the FDA for BPD treatment. Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics are typically prescribed to help treat and manage borderline personality disorder symptoms.What personality disorder is never satisfied? ›
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Compulsive personalities are conscientious and have high levels of aspiration, but they also strive for perfection. Never satisfied with their achievements, people with compulsive personality disorder take on more and more responsibilities.What is the best therapy for personality disorders? ›
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). ...
- Schema-focused therapy. ...
- Mentalization-based therapy (MBT). ...
- Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS). ...
- Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP). ...
- Good psychiatric management.
Psychosis i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder are viewed as 'severe' mental illness. Anything else, including personality disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders are 'common mental health issues' even if they are actually debilitating.Is it hard to live with a personality disorder? ›
These belong to a group of mental disorders that cause unhealthy and rigid patterns of thought and behaviors that impact relationships, activities, work, academics, and many other aspects of life. Living with an untreated personality disorder can be hugely disruptive to normal life.Why are people with personality disorders so difficult? ›
Personality disorders are difficult to treat because it's very difficult for someone suffering from one of these disorders to separate their personality (how they interact with others, how they view the world, and how they think about themselves) from the symptoms of their mental illness.
What is a Machiavellian person? ›
“Machiavellians are sly, deceptive, distrusting, and manipulative. They are characterized by cynical and misanthropic beliefs, callousness, a striving for … money, power, and status, and the use of cunning influence tactics.What is the complete opposite of a narcissist? ›
The opposite of a narcissist is called an 'empath'— here are the signs you could be one. People who are very receptive to the emotions of others are known as empaths. They are also very sensitive to noise, smell, and being around people.Is narcissism caused by childhood trauma? ›
The emergence and development of narcissistic traits, such as seeking excessive admiration from others, feelings of grandiosity and interpersonal competitiveness, have mostly been related to traumatic experiences in childhood [12,13,14].What is the easiest mental illness to treat? ›
Anxiety disorder is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. Anxiety disorder produces unrealistic fears, excessive worry, flashbacks from past trauma leading to easy startling, changes in sleep patterns, intense tension and ritualistic behavior.What is the most common mental illness in us? ›
Right now, nearly 10 million Americans are living with a serious mental disorder. The most common are anxiety disorders major depression and bipolar disorder. Below is more information on these disorders and how ACCESS can help.How many personality disorders can you have? ›
Technically, according to DSM-5*, a person can receive more than one personality disorder diagnosis. People who are diagnosed with a personality disorder most often qualify for more than one diagnosis. A person with a severe personality disorder might meet the criteria for four, five or even more disorders!What are the 5 most common personality disorders? ›
The Most Common Personality Disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
- Paranoid personality disorder.
- Schizoid personality disorder.
- Schizotypal personality disorder.
The disorders most often form in children subjected to long-term physical, sexual or emotional abuse or, less often, a home environment that's frightening or highly unpredictable. The stress of war or natural disasters also can bring on dissociative disorders. Personal identity is still forming during childhood.What is the root cause of borderline personality disorder? ›
Often having felt afraid, upset, unsupported or invalidated. Family difficulties or instability, such as living with a parent or carer who experienced an addiction. Sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. Losing a parent.What are the 4 types of personality disorders? ›
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) Borderline personality disorder (BPD) Histrionic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder.
What is the most diagnosed personality disorder? ›
Obsessive-compulsive Personality Disorder (not to be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, a type of anxiety disorder), is the most common personality disorder in the United States.What is the most common factor in personality disorders? ›
- Family history of personality disorders or other mental illness.
- Abusive, unstable or chaotic family life during childhood.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder): Signs, Symptoms, Treatment. Depression.How do you know if you're dissociating? ›
Symptoms of a dissociative disorder
feeling disconnected from yourself and the world around you. forgetting about certain time periods, events and personal information. feeling uncertain about who you are. having multiple distinct identities.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has long been believed to be a disorder that produces the most intense emotional pain and distress in those who have this condition. Studies have shown that borderline patients experience chronic and significant emotional suffering and mental agony.Which behavior is most typical for clients with borderline personality disorder? ›
People with BPD have an intense fear of abandonment and have trouble regulating their emotions, especially anger. They also tend to show impulsive and dangerous behaviors, such as reckless driving and threatening self-harm. All of these behaviors make it difficult for them to maintain relationships.What is a favorite person in quiet BPD? ›
A favorite person is the center of attention of an individual living with BPD. This means they consider this person as a trusted friend, confidant, and counselor all wrapped in one. Dr. Roberts notes that the person with BPD demonstrates an “anxious-preoccupied attachment style.”What are the 10 major personality disorders? ›
- Paranoid personality disorder. ...
- Schizoid personality disorder. ...
- Schizotypal personality disorder. ...
- Antisocial personality disorder. ...
- Borderline personality disorder. ...
- Histrionic personality disorder. ...
- Narcissistic personality disorder. ...
- Avoidant personality disorder.
Borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder are the most frequently diagnosed personality disorders.Is a personality disorder a mental illness? ›
A personality disorder is a mental health condition that involves long-lasting, all-encompassing, disruptive patterns of thinking, behavior, mood and relating to others. These patterns cause a person significant distress and/or impair their ability to function.