September 21, 2020

Jem Fundano

Personality Disorder: What is it?

Your personality is a collection of traits that you develop as you grow up. It's composed of how you think, feel, and act, and it stays over time. But, there are people with unusual thoughts and emotions. Their atypical processes can manifest as bizarre or odd behavior. Over time, their behavior creates a strain in their life, and it causes distress. What these people have is called a 'personality disorder'.

What is a personality disorder?

If your thoughts, feelings, and actions are significantly different from what's normal, it can cause problems. This situation may cause distress and develop into a personality disorder. Here are possible areas you may be struggling with if there's a problem with your personality:

  • staying committed in relationships
  • getting along with loved ones
  • getting along with workmates or schoolmates
  • keeping out of trouble
  • listening to other people
  • controlling your feelings or behavior
  • focusing at work or school
  • staying out of fights or avoidable conflicts

A personality disorder may begin during adolescence or early adulthood. If untreated, a personality disorder can be long-lasting.

What causes a personality disorder?

There are different factors at play in personality disorders. The following are the factors and its definitions:


Living in a difficult environment is a factor. When you experience forms of violence, you're likely to develop a personality disorder.

Body Chemistry

Researchers observed that those with personality disorders have different brain structures. Some individuals with personality disorders come from a family with a history of mental disorders.

Life Situations

Personality disorders don't just appear out of nowhere. Tragic events can trigger the onset of this disorder. Money problems, poverty, deaths, and family issues can influence the start of a personality disorder.

How are personality disorders grouped?

There are 3 types of clusters for personality disorders. Within the 3 clusters are the 10 types of personality disorders. The following are the definitions of the clusters and the list of personality disorders.

Cluster A

- a cluster with odd and eccentric abnormal traits.

a.) Paranoid Personality Disorder

b.) Schizoid Personality Disorder

c.) Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Cluster B

- a cluster with diagnoses of emotional, dramatic, erratic, or impulsive traits.

a.) Antisocial Personality Disorder

b.) Borderline Personality Disorder

c.) Histrionic Personality Disorder

d.) Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Cluster C

- a cluster of personality disorders identified to be fearful or anxious.

a.) Avoidant Personality Disorder

b.) Dependent Personality Disorder

c.) Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Each of the personality disorders have their own set of criteria. Some personality disorders may not meet the clustered disorder's full criteria, so it's called 'unspecified'. Other medical conditions can cause a personality disorder, so it's labeled as such.

What are the brief definitions of personality disorders?

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder- A pattern of distrust and suspiciousness towards others.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder- Detachment from social relationships and has a restricted range of emotions.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder- Lacking close relationships, has distorted thoughts, and odd behavior.
  • Antisocial personality disorder- Isn't concerned with others, deceives people, and doesn't follow the rules.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder- Instability of relationships, self-image, and emotions.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder- Excessively emotional and is attention-seeking.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder- Feels unrealistically superior to other people.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder- Feels inadequate, very sensitive to criticism, and withdraws from people.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder- Attaches self to others, feels the need to be taken care of, and fears separation.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder- Having a preoccupation with order, perfection, and control.
  • Personality change due to another medical condition- Is a persistent disturbance caused by another illness.
  • Unspecified or other specified- There's a presence of personality disorder symptoms but it doesn't fit in any cluster.

How can you know if you have a personality disorder?

When you're having trouble with your mental health, consult a mental health professional. Professionals are the ones who can help you out. You will undergo a series of psychological tests and interviews during your check-up. The process will help the professional create a report and a treatment plan for you.

Self-diagnosing may only worsen your condition, so it's best to consult a professional.

Are personality disorders treatable?

Personality disorders, in children and adults, are impossible to cure without a professional's help. Since personality disorders are long-standing, treatment takes months or years. If you're diagnosed with a personality disorder, it's vital to engage in treatment.

There are no medications researched to treat personality disorders yet. But, antidepressants and mood stabilizers can help treat some of its symptoms.

What are the types of therapy used to treat a personality disorder?

You might encounter a therapist that specializes in only one form of therapy. If you're diagnosed with a personality disorder, it's best to know which therapy types can help. The following therapy types are effective for those with a personality disorder:

  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Group Therapy

Related: What is CBT and Does it Work? ; What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

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