Personality Disorders

What Is a Personality Disorder?

Personality disorders are deeply ingrained, rigid ways of thinking and behaving that result in impaired relationships with others and often cause distress for the individual who experiences them. Mental health professionals formally recognize 10 disorders that fall into three clusters, although there is known to be much overlap between the disorders, each of which exists on a spectrum:

Cluster A — Odd or eccentric disorders, including paranoid personality disorder, as well as schizoid and schizotypal personalities.

Cluster B — Dramatic or erratic disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.  

Cluster C — Anxious or fearful disorders, including avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Are Personality Disorders Hard to Identify?

The first signs of a personality disorder usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood. Although the disorders grouped within each cluster have similar symptoms and traits, one person may not have the exact same symptoms as another person with the same disorder, nor to the same degree. People with one personality disorder commonly have symptoms of at least one other. They may be unaware of their differences because they perceive their own distorted thought processes, emotional responses, and behaviors as normal. Treatment is usually required to control symptoms which, in some cases, may diminish with age.


Personality, Cluster B

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