A personality disorder is recognized as a mental condition that affects a person’s ability to conform to what their individual culture accepts as standard behavior. In the majority of the cases, these deviant behaviors are exhibited in every potential societal situation, and the afflicted are inflexible in terms of conforming to behavior that is considered to be normal.
The symptoms of a personality disorder are displayed early in a person’s life and can become progressively more obvious as the person gets older. The history of personality disorders can be traced back to 1750s with the birth of Franz Gall, who would later invent the study of phrenology, which associates personality behavior with the size and shape of a person’s head. The most notable event in the history of personality disorders occurred in 1921, when Hermann Rorschach published his ink-blot method for identifying and classifying personality disorders.
Cluster A: Odd Disorders
Odd disorders get their name from the shared effect they have on the manner in which people act. These conditions can include symptoms such as being detached from society, irrational anger, or an inability to interact with others in a public setting. While these conditions are usually more evident than the other classes of personality disorder, it can be difficult to tell them apart to the untrained eye.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: This condition is typified by an inability of the person to trust anyone in any given situation. The person suffering from this condition is constantly looking all around them for people or entities who may be looking to harm them.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder: A person suffering from a schizoid personality disorder prefers to avoid personal relationships and finds it most comfortable to remain detached from society.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder: This is a more extreme version of the schizoid disorder. The person suffering from this disorder has distorted views of reality and finds interacting in a social environment to be a combative and difficult situation.
Cluster B: Emotional or Erratic Disorders
These types of personality disorders deal with people who are unable to maintain relationships and can actually become dangerous when in a relationship setting. These are people who are able to physically and emotionally hurt others without any feelings of remorse or sympathy. These are also people who seek attention and demand the public spotlight whenever they are in a social setting.
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: Someone with this condition has no regard for the personal needs of others and lacks any kind of remorse when causing others any kind of pain.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: This condition creates a feeling of low self-esteem in a person that can lead to personal harm, an inability to sustain personal relationships, and deep depression.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder: A person suffering from this condition experiences severe mood swings and has a persistent need to be the center of attention.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: This condition creates an overly inflated sense of worth that causes the person to believe that they deserve the spotlight and all of the attention all of the time.
Cluster C: Anxious or Fearful Disorders
People who suffer from these personality disorders rely heavily on others for their feeling of self-worth. These are people who either feel the strong need to be under the care of other people or conform to the rules of society to the point of obsession.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder: People suffering from this condition have extremely low self-esteem and are very sensitive to negative comments.
- Dependent Personality Disorder: With this condition, the person feels as though they can do nothing for themselves.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (PDF): People who suffer from this condition are never satisfied with the results they or others get. They also strictly conform to rules, no matter what the situation may be.
Other Personality Disorders
In some cases, it can be difficult to put a person suffering from a personality disorder into one of the previously mentioned categories. These unclassified personality disorders can cover behaviors such as the strong need to inflict pain, a person who lacks the self-confidence to maintain personal and professional relationships, and chronic depression.
- Sadism: Sadism, also known as Sadistic Personality Disorder, is characterized by a cruel desire to see people and other living things suffer.
- Self-Defeating Disorder: A person who suffers from this condition is continually getting involved in activities and exhibiting behaviors that cause them to fail in personal and professional endeavors.
- Passive-Aggressive Disorder: This is a condition that has the person seemingly complying with every request made of them but then actively resisting the actual execution of those requests.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a personality disorder, then it is important to find help right away. These conditions affect a person’s ability to live a healthy and normal life, and they can also make a person a danger to themselves and others.
- Personality Disorders: This page describes how to identify and understand various personality disorders.
- Passive-Aggressive Behavior: NYU takes an interesting look at passive-aggressive behavior and where it occurs in the brain.
- Personality Disorders and Patient Education: This page looks at how to educate patients about personality disorders.
- What is a Personality Disorder? Appalachian State University outlines the basics about personality disorders.