Personality disorder: What are the different types?

A personality disorder is one of a range of personality traits and behaviors that describe individuals who face challenges when dealing with other people.

The outlook of a patient with a personality disorder may be rigid and inflexible. They may find it harder than other people to respond to the changes and demands of life. Others may regard them as dysfunctional in the way they assess situations and relate to people around them.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes a personality disorder as: “An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it.”

A personality disorder is considered a mental illness. The patient can become distressed when having to perform everyday functions in the workplace, the school, or in situations involving other people.

The person with a personality disorder may believe that their behaviors and interpretations of situations are normal. However, their thought processes and behaviors may be self-destructive and self-denigrating. Other people are sometimes blamed for any problems or difficulties that arise.

What Is personality?

[woman looking in mirror]
Having a personality disorder can make it difficult to sustain relationships.

Ryckman defines personality as a “Dynamic and organized set of characteristics that each person possesses, which uniquely influences their behaviors, motivations and cognitions in varying situations.”

An individual’s personality will define how they perceive the world around them. This will shape their thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.

Individuals with so-called healthy personalities are seen to deal with normal stress in a natural way, and they form functional relationships with family members and peers.

Personality disorder

Personality disorders are grouped into three broad clusters, A, B, and C, according to the DSM-5.

Cluster A personality disorders include people whose behavior is seen as abnormal and somewhat eccentric. A person with the disorder sees other people are seen as strange. This type of disorder includes paranoid personality disorder, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorder.

Paranoid personality disorder

A person with paranoid personality disorder is suspicious and distrustful.

They might think that they are being lied to or manipulated, and that friends and colleagues cannot be trusted. They suspect that any confidential information about them will be turned against them. They may perceive hidden meanings in remarks that most people would regard as innocent. They may suspect their partner or spouse of disloyalty, even without evidence.

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Schizotypal personality disorder

People with schizotypal personality disorder are also detached from social relationships, and they may have cognitive and perceptual distortions, poor social skills, and delusional thoughts. They may have brief periods of psychotic episodes.

Others may find their behaviors confusing.

Some people have delusional thoughts about insignificant daily events, and details may take on a misguided significance. A person may believe that television or newspaper headlines are really coded messages directed at them. They may think they are telepathic or have extraordinary empathic powers, but to a lesser extent than in schizophrenia.

People with Cluster B personality disorders also have difficulty relating to others. Their behavior may be seen as disturbing, dramatic, and threatening. Examples of Cluster B behaviors are antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.

Antisocial personality disorder

People with antisocial personality disorder may be unconcerned about the consequences of their actions.

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