Personality Disorders: An Overview

IMAGE Personality disorders are chronic mental illnesses that can range from mildly unsettling to severe. They arise from a person’s home environment, as well as from genetic and chemical causes. Treatment options include psychotherapy (counseling), medicines, and self-help approaches. Some people may need the personalized attention that only hospitalization can provide. A personality disorder must fulfill several criteria. They cannot be diagnosed just on the basis of one characteristic. People with personality disorders have an inflexible pattern of understanding people, thinking, and behaving that makes it difficult to adjust to their environment. This is serious enough to affect their functioning. But, in some cases, people with personality disorders may not think they have a problem or may not want to change. Personality disorders are usually recognizable by adolescence and continue throughout adulthood, and they become less obvious throughout middle age.The following information is an overview of ten clinically diagnosed personality disorders and their symptoms.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

With antisocial personality disorder, there is a pattern of disregarding or actually violating others’ rights, which usually includes most of the following:
  • Failure to conform to lawful behaviors
  • Deceitfulness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Disregard for safety
  • Irresponsibility
  • Indifference to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Avoidant Personality Disorder

A pattern of feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity, and social inhibition, which usually involves:
  • Avoidance of interpersonal contact
  • Fear of being shamed or ridiculed
  • Preoccupation with being criticized or rejected socially
  • Acting inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • Feelings of being socially inept, unappealing, and inferior
  • Fear of blushing or crying in front of others

Borderline Personality Disorder

With borderline personality disorder, there is a pattern of instability and shallowness in one’s personal relationships, usually related to one’s self-image and marked by:
  • Impulsiveness in areas that are potentially self-damaging
  • Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment
  • Recurrent suicidal talk and/or behaviors or self-mutilating behavior
  • Episodes of extreme irritability or anxiety
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Paranoia

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