Everything you need to know about Personality disorder

A personality disorder is a type of disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble adjusting and relating to circumstances and people which causes major problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.

In some cases, personality disorder goes unnoticed because your behaviour seems natural to you. And you constantly blame others for the challenges you face.

Personality disorders start developing in the formative years. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types of personality disorders may become less obvious throughout middle age.

Types of Personality Disorders

Based on similar characteristics and symptoms, types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters. Most people with one personality disorder also show signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder.

Cluster A personality disorders

Cluster A personality disorders are classified according to odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They involve paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Paranoid personality disorder

  • Complete distrust and suspicion of others and their motives
  • Constant belief that others are trying to harm or deceive you
  • Doubt the loyalty or trustworthiness of others
  • Hesitancy to confide in others due to irrational fear that others will use the information against you
  • Thinking of innocent remarks or non threatening situations as personal insults or attacks hostile reaction towards perceived slights or insults
  • Tendency to hold grudges

Schizoid personality disorder

  • Lack of interest in relationships, preferring to be left alone
  • Limited range of emotional expression
  • Inability to take pleasure in most activities
  • Inability to pick up normal social cues

Schizotypal personality disorder

  • Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs, speech or behavior
  • Odd perceptual experiences, like hearing a voice whisper your name
  • Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Social anxiety and discomfort with close relationships
  • Indifferent, inappropriate or suspicious response to others
  • "Magical thinking" — believing you can influence everything with your thoughts
Behavioral changes in a person who has personality disorder
Behavioral changes in a person who has personality disorder

Cluster B personality disorders

Cluster B personality disorders are classified according to different behaviours like being overly dramatic, emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. This involves antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Disregard for others' needs or feelings
  • Persistent lying, stealing, using aliases, conning others
  • Recurring problems with the law
  • Repeated violation of the rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior
  • Least bothered for the safety of self or others
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Consistently irresponsible
  • Lack of remorse for behavior

Borderline personality disorder

  • Unstable or fragile self-image
  • Unstable and intense relationships
  • Suicidal behavior or threats of self-injury
  • Intense fear of being alone or abandoned
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Frequent, intense displays of anger
  • Stress-related paranoia that comes and goes

Histrionic personality disorder

  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Easily influenced by others
  • Shallow, rapidly changing emotions
  • Excessive concern with physical appearance
  • Assuming relationships with others are closer than they really are

Narcissistic personality disorder

  • Fantasies about power, success and attractiveness
  • Failure to recognize others' needs and feelings
  • Exaggeration of achievements or talents
  • Expectation of constant praise and admiration


  • Having unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages, often taking advantage of others
  • Envy others or belief that others envy you

Cluster C personality disorders

Cluster C personality disorders are classified according to anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They involve avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Too sensitive to criticism or rejection
  • Feeling inadequate, inferior or unattractive
  • Avoidance of work related activities that require interpersonal contact
  • Socially inhibited, timid and isolated, avoiding new activities or meeting new people
  • Very shy in social situations and personal relationships
  • Fear of disapproval, embarrassment or ridicule
  • Dependent personality disorder
  • Heavily dependent on others and feeling the need to be taken care of
  • Submissive or clingy behavior toward others
  • Fear of providing self-care or fending for yourself if left alone
  • Lacking self-confidence, requiring excessive advice even for smallest of decisions
  • Difficulty handling projects on your own due to lack of self-confidence
  • Difficulty disagreeing with others, fearing disapproval
  • Tolerance poor behaviour, even when other options are available
  • Compulsive urge to start a new relationship when a close one has ended
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Preoccupation with details, orderliness and rules
  • Desire to be in control of every single thing
  • Ignoring friends and enjoyable activities because of excessive commitment to work or a project
  • Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
  • Rigid and stubborn
  • Inflexible about morality, ethics or values
  • Strict control over budgeting and spending money


Personality is a unique trait. It is a combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that sets an individual apart from others. Personality is formed during childhood and formative years, it is result of:

  • Your genes - Certain personality traits are passed on to you by your parents through inherited genes. These traits are your temperament.
  • Your environment - This involves the surroundings you grew up in, events that took place and your rapport with your loved ones

Personality disorders are caused due to genetic and environmental influences. Your genes are responsible for developing a personality disorder, and a real life event may trigger the actual development.

When to see a therapist

It can be difficult to determine the type of personality disorder at times, because some personality disorders share similar symptoms and more than one type may be present. Depression, anxiety or substance abuse may further trigger diagnosis. It is always better to get an accurate diagnosis so that you get appropriate treatment.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of a personality disorder, see your therapist. Personality disorders if not treated can cause significant problems in your life that may get worse without treatment.

Psychotherapy :

Psychotherapy is a good way to treat personality disorders.

During psychotherapy with a therapist, you can know more about your condition, talk about your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy may be imparted in individual sessions, group therapy, or sessions that involve family or even friends.

There are various types of psychotherapy of which your therapist can determine which one is best for you. You may also receive social skills training. During social skills training you can use the knowledge you gain to learn healthy ways to manage your behavior that interfere with your functioning and relationships.

Family therapy provides much needed support and education to families dealing with a family member having a personality disorder.

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