Personality Disorders - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses that involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible.

For people without a personality disorder, personality traits are patterns of thinking, reacting and behaving that remain relatively consistent and stable over time. People with a personality disorder display more rigid thinking and reacting behaviors that make it hard for them to adapt to a situation. These behaviors often disrupt their personal, professional and social lives.

Types of Personality Disorders

Generally, personality disorders are divided into three subtypes: odd/eccentric, dramatic/erratic and anxious/inhibited.

Odd/Eccentric Personality Disorders

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder: Often overly, yet unjustifiably, suspicious of their surroundings, people with paranoid personality disorder generally cannot see their role in conflict situations. Instead, they often project their feelings of paranoia as anger onto others.
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder: People with schizoid personality disorder are absorbed in their own thinking and daydreaming. Because of this, they exclude themselves from attachment to people and reality.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder: With schizotypal personality disorder, people show disordered thinking, perception and ineffective communication skills. Many symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder resemble schizophrenia, but are less intense and intrusive.

Dramatic/Erratic Personality Disorders

  • Borderline Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are not stable in their perceptions of themselves, and have difficulty keeping stable relationships. Moods may also be inconsistent, but never neutral. Their sense of reality is always seen in "black and white."
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder: People with this disorder characteristically disregard the feelings, property, authority and respect of others for their own personal gain. This may include violent or aggressive acts involving or targeting other individuals, without a sense of regret or guilt for any of their destructive actions.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder: People with this disorder present severely overly-inflated feelings of self-worth, grandness, and superiority over others. People with narcissistic personality disorder often exploit others who fail to admire them. They are overly sensitive to criticism, judgment and defeat.
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are overly conscious of their appearance and are constantly seeking attention. They also often behave dramatically in situations that do not warrant this type of reaction.

Anxious/Inhibited Personality Disorders

  • Dependent Personality Disorder: People with this disorder rely heavily on others for validation and fulfillment of basic needs. They are often unable to properly care for themselves. People with dependent personality disorder lack self-confidence and security, and have a hard time making decisions.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are hypersensitive to rejection and, because of this, they avoid situations with any possible conflict. People with avoidant personality disorder become disturbed by their own social isolation, withdrawal and inability to form close, interpersonal relationships.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are inflexible to change. They are bothered by a disrupted routine due to their obsession for order. They experience anxiety and have trouble completing tasks and making decisions. People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder often become uncomfortable in situations that are beyond their control. They have difficulty maintaining positive, healthy interpersonal relationships as a result.

Treating Personality Disorders

Treatment for personality disorders may include a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Personality disorders are often difficult to treat and may need long-term attention to change the inappropriate behavior and thought patterns.