What Are Personality Disorders?
Personality is a combination of long-standing patterns of behaviour, thought, and feelings. Each of us have unique personality traits which are relatively stable and consistent across time and situations. For instance, one could be compassionate, hostile, impulsive, or 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 tend to be 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.
Types of Personality Disorders
There are 10 distinct personality disorders categorised into 3 clusters based on their descriptive similarities.
✽ Cluster A: Odd-Eccentric Personality Disorder
- Distorted thought and speech patterns
- Generally still able to maintain a firm grasp on their reality
- Disorders in this cluster: 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
- Disorders in this cluster: Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), 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
- Disorders in this cluster: Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
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 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 an individual from the perspectives of friends and family.
It is critical for personality disorders to be diagnosed and receive the appropriate treatment. As such, one should seek professional help, especially when there are significant and enduring difficulties in daily life.
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