FEB 24, 2016 3:23 PM PST

What Are Personality Disorders?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

Personality disorders are marked by deeply ingrained "disruptive and enduring behavior patterns that impair social and other functioning - whether the sufferer recognizes that or not," according to the video. Personality disorders are ego-syntonic, meaning the person experiencing the disorder doesn't necessarily think they have a problem. Sometimes, they think the problem is with everyone else. Alternatively, many psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, are ego-dystonic, so the person suffering from the disorder is aware they have a problem and are distressed by their symptoms.

The concept of personality disorders is relatively new, and they are difficult to diagnose and understand. The DSM-5 now contains 10 distinct personality disorders, which are divided into three clusters.

Cluster A includes traits that are labeled "odd" or "eccentric." There are three disorders that fall under cluster A: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. People who suffer from paranoid personality disorder experience an unrelenting mistrust of others, even when there is no reason they should be suspicious. People with schizoid personality disorder act overly aloof, lack interest in having relationships and have restricted emotional responses. People with schizotypal personality disorder experience an extreme discomfort in social situations and have distorted perceptions.

Cluster B disorders include traits labeled as "dramatic," "emotional" or "impulsive." The four personality disorders in this cluster are antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. The behavior of cluster B can be frightening and severely self-destructive, so these disorders are often associated with frequent hospitalizations. For instance, those with antisocial personality disorder have a disregard for the rights of others, and often violate them. They lack empathy, have a bloated self-image, are manipulative, and have problems managing impulse.

Cluster C include "anxious," "fearful," or "avoidant" personality traits. The three disorders in this category are avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. People with avoidant personality disorder avoid meeting people and are extremely sensitive to negative judgment. People with dependent personality disorder are overly dependent on other people in order to meet their psychological and emotional needs. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by excessive perfectionism and the need to have control over one's environment.

Most people suffering from personality disorders are diagnosed as PDNOS, an acronym for "personality disorder not otherwise specified." Many people suffering from personality disorders may have a range of symptoms that don't all fit into a more specific diagnosis.

The disorders usually manifest by the time one reaches adolescents. Many psychologists believe the best way to treat personality disorders are to catch them early and to treat them patient during or before adolescents. It is important to identify warning signs early on and to work with the children and their families to correct their behavior.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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