Personality Disorder

Personality is the way you view your world and understand and relate to it. It is a combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors  which  makes you unique, and this is known as Personality. Personality also determines how you see yourself.


Personality forms during childhood. It is shaped through an interaction of genes and your life situations. The genetic vulnerability to developing a personality disorder triggers the actual development of a personality disorder. Inherited tendencies, called “temperament” interact with the surroundings in childhood, events that occurred, and relationships with family members, the type of parenting etc.


A person with a personality disorder has a rigid and potentially self-destructive or self-denigrating pattern of thinking and behaving in all situations. This results in distress to the affected person and impairment of the ability to go about routine daily functions. Persons with a personality disorder  may not realize the problem because their way of thinking and behaving seems natural to them and so they end up blaming others for their circumstances.

The following are known to  increase the risk of developing or triggering personality disorders:

  • A family history of personality disorders or other mental illness
  • Verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • An unstable or chaotic family life during childhood
  • Conduct disorder in childhood
  • Loss of parents  during childhood

Personality disorders often begin in childhood and last through adulthood.

Personality disorders may be associated with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Self-injury
  • Reckless behavior
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Child abuse
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Aggression or violence
  • Incarceration
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Social isolation
  • School and work problems
  • Strained relationships with health care providers


Earlier, personality disorders were considered to be untreatable. This has now changed and it is recognized that there are effective ways in which personality disorders can be treated including medication and psychotherapy. Many of the newer medicines have shown to cause a marked improvement in various symptoms of personality disorder including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics used judiciously by an expert. With treatment the quality of life of both the affected person and the family can be markedly improved.

General symptoms of personality disorder
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Stormy relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Angry outbursts
  • Suspicion and mistrust of others
  • Difficulty making friends
  • A need for instant gratification
  • Poor impulse control
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Types of personality disorders

Personality disorders can be grouped into three clusters.

Cluster A: Characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior.

Paranoid personality disorder

  • Distrust and suspicion of others
  • Believing that others are trying to harmthem
  • Emotional detachment
  • Hostility

Schizoid personality disorder

  • Lack of interest in social relationships
  • Limited range of emotional expression
  • Inability to pick up normal social cues
  • Appearing dull or indifferent to others

Schizotypal personality disorder

  • Peculiar dress, thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Discomfort in close relationships
  • Inappropriate emotional responses
  • Indifference to others
  • “Magical thinking” — believing that they can influence people and events through their  thoughts
  • Believing that there are hidden messages for them in all that is going on around them

Cluster B: Characterized by dramatic, overly emotional thinking or behavior.

Antisocial personality disorder

  • Disregard for others
  • Persistent lying or stealing
  • Recurring difficulties with the law
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others
  • Aggressive, often violent behavior
  • Disregard for the safety of self or others

Borderline personality disorder

  • Impulsive and risky behavior
  • Volatile relationships
  • Unstable mood
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Fear of being alone

Histrionic personality disorder

  • Constantly seeking attention
  • Excessively emotional
  • Extreme sensitivity to others’ approval
  • Unstable mood
  • Excessive concern with physical appearance

Narcissistic personality disorder

  • Believing that  they are better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating their achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings

Cluster C: Characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. 

Avoidant personality disorder

  • Hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Social isolation
  • Extreme shyness in social situations
  • Timidity

Dependent personality disorder

  • Excessive dependence on others
  • Submissiveness toward others
  • A desire to be taken care of
  • Tolerance of abuse and ill treatment
  • Urgent need to start a new relationship when one has ended

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

  • Preoccupation with orderliness and rules
  • Extreme perfectionism
  • Desire to be in control of situations
  • Inability to discard broken or worthless objects
  • Inflexibility