Personality Disorders

If you have a personality disorder, the way that you behave and the way that you think can create problems for you at work and school, interfere with personal and social relationships and overall interfere with your daily life.

Personality disorders are a type of mental illness, and the disorder causes behaviors and thoughts that are unhealthy, even if the person who has a personality disorder is unaware that it is doing so. While there is no known cause of personality disorders, your childhood experiences and your family genes may help determine who develops a personality disorder. The symptoms of each personality disorder are different, and they can range from mild to severe. Before you can learn more about an individual personality disorder, you need to know how the disorders are clustered together and why. The clusters include disorders that cause odd or eccentric behavior, disorders that cause dramatic or unpredictable behavior or thinking and disorders that cause anxiety, fearful thinking or behavior.

Odd or Eccentric Behavior

There are three different personality disorders: Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Let us look closer at each disorder.

  • Paranoid personality disorder is diagnosed when a person shows a pattern of suspiciousness and distrust towards other people. For those with a paranoid personality disorder, they may often feel that others are trying to harm or deceive them, and they become suspicious of people that show them loyalty or trustworthiness. People with paranoid personality disorder tend to hold grudges against those who they do not trust and can become hostile or angry when confronted with criticism.
  • Schizoid personality disorder is diagnosed when a person shows a pattern of detachment from most social and personal relationships and who prefers to be left alone. A person with this disorder tends to shy away from close relationships, instead choosing to live in solitary. They also seem to be indifferent to both praise and criticism from others around them and have a short range of emotional expression. A person who has schizoid personality disorder is also unable to pick up normal social cues and often appears to be indifferent and cold to others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is when a person displays odd perceptual experiences, like hearing a voice whisper to them. People with this disorder may or may not act on the voices. Often, a person with schizotypal personality disorder shows discomfort in close relationships and overall social anxiety. People who live with schizotypal personality disorder experience inappropriate emotional responses or flat emotions, and gives indifferent or suspicious responses to other people. They may also believe in magical thinking, such as being able to influence people or events with their mind or that certain events or incidents have hidden messages meant only for them.

Dramatic, Emotional or Erratic Behavior

Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality disorder. Let us review each of them.

  • Antisocial personality disorder can be characterized as a person who violates or disregards the rights of others. They may show disregard for another person’s needs or feelings by lying, stealing and overall conning people, even those that they love. They may exhibit impulsive behavior and show a total disregard for the safety of themselves and others by displaying aggressive and violent behavior.
  • Borderline personality disorder is a person who has unstable and intense personal relationships, and who may show impulsive and risky behavior like having unsafe sex. They may also have an unstable or fragile self-image and a great fear of being abandoned or alone. A person with a borderline personality disorder may also show signs of mood disorders often in reaction to stress, and may display signs of suicidal behavior or threats of self-harm. Those with a borderline personality disorder may also show intense displays of anger and have an ongoing feeling of emptiness. They are also prone to self-related paranoia.
  • Histrionic personality disorder is when a person shows extreme attention seeking and emotions. If they feel uncomfortable when they are not currently the center of attention, and often use dramatic, emotional, or sexual provocation to gain the attention that they need and that they feel they deserve. People with histrionic personality disorder are easily influenced by other people, are shallow and show extreme concerns with physical appearances. They may also think that their relationships are closer than they in fact are.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder is when a person needs to be admired by others while also showing a lack of empathy. They may believe that they are more important and more special than other people are and have a great sense of self-importance and sense of entitlement. They may fail to recognize the feelings and needs of other people, while also expecting praise and admiration from others. They show signs of arrogance, and also envy others or believe that others envy them. People with a narcissistic personality disorder often have grand fantasies about power and success while also exaggeration their talents and achievements.

Anxious or Fearful Behavior

Finally, the last groups of personality disorders are avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

  • Avoidant personality disorder is when a person shows extreme sensitivity to criticism or rejection and feels inadequate, unattractive or inferior. They may also show extreme shyness in personal relationships and social interactions, and be fearful of embarrassment, disapproval or ridicule. A person with an avoidant personality disorder may be afraid of getting involved with people if they are not certain that they will be liked and they may avoid work situations that require contact with other people.
  • Dependent personality disorder is when a person shows signs of submissive and clingy behavior and needing to be taken care of. They fear that they are going to have to provide self-care and that they will have to fend for themselves if they are left alone. They also lack self-confidence and need reassurance and advice from others to make daily decisions. A person with a dependent personality disorder has trouble disagreeing with others since they fear disapproval, and they have difficulty starting projects on their own due to their lack of self-confidence. When a close relationship has ended, they show an urgent need to start a new relationship, and they tolerate abusive or poor treatment even when there are other options around them.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is apparent when a person is preoccupied with orderliness, details and rules. They have the constant desire to be in control of people and situations, and their inability to give tasks means that they are often stubborn and rigid. A person with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder show signs of extreme perfectionism, which often results in neglecting friends and being able to enjoy activities because of their excessive nature. They may show signs of distrust when they are unable to reach perfectionism, like when they are unable to finish a task due to their high expectations and strict standards. They may also be inflexible about issues such as values, morality and ethics and tightly monitor and control money. It is crucial to note that obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you believe you may be suffering from one of the above disorders, you have options to receive treatment in your area. There are many ways to access mental health treatment as well as various kinds of therapy to choose from. You more easily can get help for yourself or a loved one if you understand the basics of each disorder.

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