About Personality Disorders
A personality disorder is a particular type of chronic mental health condition that causes highly inflexible thought patterns and behaviors that create difficulty coping with life, adjusting to change, interacting with people, or behaving appropriately. There are around a dozen categories of different types of personality disorders, each characterized by specific thought and behavior patterns. The following list of personality disorders briefly discusses each of the different types.
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by disregard for the feelings and rights of other people, and disregard for rules and laws. People with this personality disorder persistently violate rules and laws, lie to or deceive others, are physically aggressive, and show little regard for their own personal safety, or for the safety of other people. For diagnostic purposes, the behavior must have started by the time the individual is fifteen years old.
People with avoidant personality disorderr are very shy and anxious in social settings, due to feelings of inadequacy, fear of rejection, and heightened sensitivity to rejection. Unlike several other different types of personality disorders, people with avoidant disorder do wish to form relationships with others, but have difficulty in doing so and typically remain socially isolated.
The main feature of this disorder is instability, of personal relationships as well as moods, self-esteem, and self-perception. Someone with this disorder has poor impulse control, is intensely afraid of abandonment, has intense but unstable relationships, is often inappropriately angry, and is at high risk of substance addiction, suicide attempts, and self-harming behaviors.
Someone with dependent personality disorder has an overwhelming need to be taken care of, and an extreme aversion to personal responsibility and decision-making. A person with this disorder behaves submissively and often clings to personal relationships even when they are harmful or abusive. Fear of being alone, of making even trivial decisions, of abandonment or rejection, inability to disagree with others, and avoidance of responsibility at work and in other areas of life, are features of this disorder.
People with histrionic personality disorder are often perceived as attention-seekers. They are dramatic in speech and behavior, excessively emotional, self-centered, and highly changeable in mood. They also often display seductive or sexually provocative behavior, sometimes in inappropriate situations.
In narcissistic personality disorder, an individual has a much-inflated sense of self-importance, believing himself to be better than and more important than those around him. Someone with this disorder does not have much regard for other peoples’ feelings. However, this disorder is also characterized by low self-esteem and extremely high sensitivity to criticism, envy of others, and a craving for attention and praise from others.
People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are perfectionists and checkers with high attention to detail. They work patiently and dependably and are highly conscientious, but are also plagued by self-doubt and the need to constantly achieve. They often worry excessively about making mistakes, doing the wrong thing, or making the wrong decision, and tend to feel anxious and worried when unpredictable events occur that they cannot control. (Note that this is not the same condition as obsessive-compulsive disorder.)
An individual with paranoid personality disorder constantly perceives the actions of others to be deliberately threatening, demeaning, condescending, deceitful, or otherwise harmful. Often, people with this disorder are secretive and guarded, rather than open, and their perception of others as deceitful causes them to be untrusting, unforgiving, and prone to excessive and inappropriate outbursts of anger.
Schizoid personality disorder is fairly uncommon in contrast to other disorders, largely because it remains undiagnosed in many who have it. People with this disorder are detached from the world around them; they do not form relationships with others, and have no desire to. They do not take pleasure in leisure activities or hobbies, and will go to extreme lengths to avoid interacting with others, whether at work or in social situations, due to fear of and lack of interest in intimacy. However, they do often have rich “inner” lives, with elaborate daydreams.
People with schizotypal personality disorder are typically viewed as eccentric or odd. They tend to dress and speak strangely, are highly anxious in social situations, and have trouble forming relationships. Behavior and thought patterns include talking to themselves, inappropriate reactions in social interactions, and “magical thinking”, in which the person believes he or she can, for example, read minds or see the future.
David Bienenfeld, MD, for eMedicine: Personality Disorders
Mental Health America: Fact Sheet: Personality Disorders
National Institute of Health MedlinePlus: Personality Disorders
The Mayo Clinic: Personality Disorders
The Royal College of Psychiatrists: Personality Disorders Information Sheet