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What Are Personality Disorders_

What are Personality Disorders?

While depression and anxiety are the most common mental health conditions, there are other types of mental health conditions that are not as common, but still quite prevalent. Among these are personality disorders. According to a 2003 study cited by the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 9.1% of Americans have some form of a personality disorder. 

However, personality disorders can be tricky to identify and diagnose because many people who have them are not aware of it. This is mainly due to the fact that their way of thinking and behaving seems normal to them. Because of this, it is an unfortunate fact that many people with personality disorders never get the proper help. Oftentimes, the ones that do get help are already in crisis. 

Cartoon concept of personality

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines a personality disorder as “a way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time”. Additionally, personality disorders are said to affect two or more of the following: 

  • How one sees themselves and others
  • How one controls their behavior
  • How one relates to others
  • How one emotionally responds

Currently, the DSM-5 recognizes a total of 10 personality disorders that they have divided into “clusters”. There are three clusters, including: 

Cluster A: characterized by odd, bizarre, or eccentric behaviors

  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypal personality disorder

Cluster B: characterized by dramatic or erratic behavior

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder

Cluster C: characterized by anxious or fearful behavior

  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Despite the different types of personality disorders within each cluster, all the personality disorders in each cluster tend to blend together in reality. This is mostly due to the fact that these disorders were differentiated by historical observations rather than scientific study. What this means is that someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder may also show behaviors associated with antisocial, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. 

Listed below is a brief summary of the ten different types of personality disorders: 

#1 Paranoid Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by a pervasive distrust of others, even people they are well-acquainted with
  • Behaviors such as acting guarded, suspicious, or constantly looking for clues that validate fears
  • Defends their ego by projecting their thoughts and feelings onto others

#2 Schizoid Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by directing attention towards oneself while ignoring the external world
  • Behaviors such as acting detached, aloof, introspective, and indifference towards others

#3 Schizotypal Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by schizophrenic thinking, and odd behavior, appearance, and speech. 
  • Behaviors such as fearing social interaction, believing happenings are related to them, and a general fear of others
  • More likely to develop schizophrenia 

#4 Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by a blatant disregard for the feelings of others
  • Behaviors such as irritability, aggression, impulsivity, and disregard for rules
Illustration of two human heads back to back with one representing night and the other day

#5 Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by a lack of self that yields feelings of emptiness and a deep fear of abandonment
  • Behaviors such as intense and unstable relationships, emotional instability, angry or violent outbursts, impulsivity, suicidal threats, and self-harm

#6 Histrionic Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by a lack of self-worth that causes them to depend on the approval of others
  • Behaviors such as dramatic outbursts to be heard or seen, great regard for their appearance, impulsivity, sensitivity to criticism, and an inability to handle failure
Man kissing mirror to illustrate narcissism

#7 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by an extreme feeling of self-importance and entitlement
  • Behaviors such as being self-absorbed, controlling, intolerant, selfish, insensitive, and a lack of empathy

#8 Avoidant Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by feelings of being socially inept or inferior to others
  • Behaviors such as avoiding social interactions unless they are certain to be liked
Man physically clinging onto woman as she is walking away

#9 Dependent Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by a lack of self-confidence resulting in the need to be looked after by another person
  • Behaviors such as an inability to make decisions, fear of abandonment, feelings or inadequateness or helplessness, and submission to others

#10 Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  • Predominantly characterized by an excessive preoccupation with details, rules, lists, order, organization, and schedules.
  • Behaviors such as extreme perfectionism that prevents things from being done, and an extreme devotion to work and productivity without regard to leisure or relationships. 
headshot of dr.miller

Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability.  For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.            

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