Introduction to Personality disorders

After my last entry on personality and the five-factor model, I wanted to start a series discussing personality disorders. Personality is defined as the characteristic way in which an individual thinks and behaves. When these patterns of thought and behavior are problematic and cause a big deal of anxiety and hindrance, we can consider a personality disorder.

There are ten, well-defined personality disorders. Personality disorders are usually classified into three clusters: cluster A - the odd, cluster B - the dramatic and cluster C - the anxious. The DSM-IV-TR also considers the possibility of personality disorders that don’t fit the diagnostic criteria of any of these. It is important to note that some personality disorders have a high comorbidity with each other. In other words, some individuals might meet diagnostic criteria for more than one personality disorder.

Since this is quite a broad topic, today I will only do a recap of the ten personality disorders. I will discuss them, one by one, in the following posts. This time I plan on doing something different. I will describe someone’s case instead of presenting the diagnostic criteria and general knowledge we have. I think it is a better way to paint a realistic and comprehensible portrayal of these disorders.

But first, a quick summary that will serve as a guide:

Cluster A

A pattern of mistrust and suspicion that causes to interpret motivations of others as being malicious.
A pattern of detachment from social interaction, aloofness, and limited emotional expression.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
An extreme discomfort when interacting socially. Cognitive and perceptual distortions.

Cluster B

Antisocial Personality Disorder
A total disregard for moral values and societal rules. Little control over impulses and a disposition to hurt others if it’s beneficial for them.
A pattern of unstable moods. The instability is also shown in relationships, identity, and behavior.
A pattern of attention-seeking behavior and excessive emotionality.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
A pattern of grandiose self-image. Expectation to be treated more favorably. Lack of empathy and unaware of other’s feelings.

Cluster C

Avoidant Personality Disorder
Social inhibition and feelings of inadequacy. Hypersensitive to rejection and negative feedback.
Dependent Personality Disorder
A pattern of intense fear of separation and rejection. A psychological need to be cared for by other people.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
An extreme fixation with perfectionism, orderliness, and rules. Inflexible way of thinking and high-stress levels.


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