Defining Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are defined as mental health conditions characterized by patterns of thinking that are considered unusual and often unhealthy. Individuals who are diagnosed with a personality disorder will typically behave and function in a way that goes against social norms and expectations. This is because the pattern of thinking caused by the disorder typically causes difficulty for those individuals to accurately perceive and relate to other people in social situations.
Some individuals diagnosed with a personality disorder may not have the awareness that their perceptions are irrational, because in their minds, the way they think and behave is accurate.
Types of Personality Disorders
There are three clusters of personality disorders with ten different types.
In Cluster A, the disorders are broadly defined by eccentric and aloof behavioral characteristics and include the following: Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder, and Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
This disorder involves a pattern of thinking that causes a person to become overly distrusting and suspicious of those around them. These individuals often have unrealistic beliefs that other people are deceiving and/or harming them or that a romantic partner has been unfaithful. As a result, they may often react in anger over innocent remarks because they perceive them as personal attacks.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
This disorder involves a pattern of thinking that causes a person to become detached and aloof from others. As a result, individuals with this disorder have extreme difficulty forming close relationships, engaging in typical social activities, understanding basic social cues, and have little to no interest in sex.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
This disorder involves a pattern of thinking that is defined by distinctly odd or eccentric behaviors. Those with this disorder may have peculiar beliefs, speech, mannerisms, and style of dress. Many of these individuals believe that they hear voices or that they possess supernatural abilities. Those diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder will often have social anxiety resulting in feelings of discomfort about close relationships.
Personality disorders in cluster B are identified by patterns of behavior that are overly emotional, dramatic, impulsive, or unpredictable. Cluster B disorders include Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
This disorder is characterized by an absence of empathy and difficulty respecting the rights, feelings, and needs of others. People with this diagnosis may have recurring trouble with law enforcement because of repeated instances of lying, stealing, manipulating, and in some cases, acts of violence. They show and feel little or no remorse for their actions and have little or no sense of responsibility.
Borderline Personality Disorder
This disorder is characterized by a pattern of impulsive, irrational, unstable, and reckless behavior. People with this diagnosis often have a poor self-image and are oppressed by paranoia and constant feelings of emptiness. They can experience intense mood swings and will frequently self-harm or contemplate suicide.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
This disorder is a pattern of dramatic, attention-seeking, and provocative behavior. Those with this disorder often have an obsession with physical appearance and their reputation and may become easily influenced by the opinions of others.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
This disorder is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, entitlement, arrogance, and lack of empathy. People with this disorder will often have exaggerated beliefs about their own talents, accomplishments, success, attractiveness, and power. They often fail to recognize the feelings and needs of others and are unable to recognize their own mistakes and shortcomings.
Lastly, Cluster C disorders are identified by anxious or fearful thinking and behaviors. They include the following: Dependent Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, and Avoidant Personality Disorder.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
This disorder involves a pattern of behavior that is characterized by intense feelings of inadequacy, shyness, inferiority, and unattractiveness. Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder are extremely sensitive to criticism and are uncomfortable in new social settings, situations, and relationships.
Dependent Personality Disorder
This disorder is characterized by an extreme dependence on other people, having the need to be taken care of, lack of confidence, and overly clingy or submissive behavior. People with this disorder often need constant reassurance and guidance because of their intense absence of self-confidence.
This disorder involves a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control of one’s surroundings. People with this disorder become very distressed when something in their life is out of order or falls below the standard. They are often inflexible in their beliefs, morals, and use of money and are intolerant of change.
Causes of Personality Disorders
Most experts agree that personality disorders can be caused by some combination of environmental and genetic factors. A family history of personality disorders and other mental illnesses can increase a person’s risk for developing a mental health diagnosis. Environmental factors that might contribute to developing a personality disorder include an unstable, chaotic, or abusive family life, especially during childhood, and severe trauma at a young age.
Treatment for Personality Disorders
Unfortunately, there are no specific medications designed to treat personality disorders, however antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers have all been prescribed to help mitigate some of the symptoms.
Therapy is proven the most effective treatment for personality disorders. Through the use of various forms of therapy, including psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoeducation, a patient can learn to understand and manage their disorder.
LAT’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is designed to help people diagnosed with any mental illness, including personality disorders. Our IOP includes group therapy and individual therapy that utilize evidence-based treatment and experimental processes. Our number one goal is to provide each client with the tools and skills needed to lead an emotionally balanced and truly fulfilling life.
Contact Life Adjustment Team
For over 40 years, LAT has been providing state-of-the-art comprehensive care for individuals with personality disorders and other mental health conditions. We have the tools and know-how to help you or your loved one create a healthy, balanced and fulfilling life. Contact our clinical team today to get started!