What are Personality Disorders?
Personality is a combination of long-standing patterns of behaviour, thought, and feeling. Each of us have unique personality traits which are stable and consistent across time and situations. Personality traits include being compassionate, hostile, impulsive, and outgoing.
Personality can be described along a continuum of functionality. Functional personalities refer to a sense of self that is relatively stable and leads to positive social and occupational functioning. On the other end of the spectrum, dysfunctional personalities include unstable, maladaptive, and interferes with daily functioning. When individuals have significant deficits in their identity and their capacity for interpersonal relationships, they may be diagnosed with a personality disorder.
There are 10 distinct personality disorders categorised into 3 clusters based on their descriptive similarities.
✽ Cluster A: Odd-eccentric Personality Disorder
- Odd thought and speech patterns
- Maintains their grasp on reality
- Paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder
✽ Cluster B: Dramatic-emotional Personality Disorder
- Manipulative, volatile, and unempathetic in social relationships
- Prone to impulsive and violent behaviours
- Antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder
✽ Cluster C: Anxious-fearful personality Disorder
- Extremely concerned about being criticised or abandoned by others
- Tend to have dysfunctional relationships
- Avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
Nevertheless, this clustering system is limited as it fails to account for individuals who present co-occurring personality disorders from differing clusters.
Living with a Personality Disorder
Some individuals may have a personality disorder but are unaware of it. It would be useful to know the symptoms of each personality disorder and observe if the symptoms affect your daily functioning, over a period of time, and across different situations. Personality disorders also typically affect interpersonal relationships so it may be helpful to understand the perspectives of friends and family.
It is critical for personality disorders to be diagnosed and receive the appropriate treatment. As such, you should seek professional help, especially when there are significant and enduring difficulties in your daily life.
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