What Is A Personality Disorder?

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Published on November 16th, 2018

Updated on June 23rd, 2021

What Is A Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder (PD) is different from other mental health disorders. A patient with a PD will have unhealthy behavioral and thought patterns. These unhealthy patterns affect how the patient can function with others. PD causes strains in the patient’s personal relationships and concept of self.

A PD is not identified through emotional disturbance or psychosis. Instead, it is diagnosed based on the patient’s behavior and beliefs about themselves and the world.

Most people with a PD will also have emotional issues, but emotional issues are not needed for diagnosis. A person with a PD may also suffer from psychotic symptoms.

Many people with personality disorders blame others and may not realize how they contribute to their own issues. They may see their behavior as acceptable and not a cause for their struggles. This often leads to strained relationships and impaired social functioning.

There are several different types of PDs. Each PD has its own symptoms, but some have similar features. That is why professionals group the PDs into three clusters:

Cluster A: Odd or eccentric features.

Cluster A has disorders with behaviors, beliefs and habits that are odd or eccentric.

Cluster A personality disorders include:

  • Schizoid personality disorder (SPD)
  • Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)
  • Schizotypal personality disorder (STPD)

Cluster B: Dramatic, erratic, or unpredictable features.

People with a cluster B disorder tend to struggle with people and relationships. Their behavior is often fueled by emotions or attention from others.

People with cluster B disorders tend to have dramatic and unpredictable behavior patterns. They may not realize or take responsibility for their inappropriate behavior, which tends cause to impacted relationships.

Cluster B personality disorders include:

Cluster C: Anxious or fearful.

Cluster C disorders show behaviors and beliefs fueled by fear and anxiety. The anxiety can be related to interpersonal relationships, life issues, or self-image.

Cluster C personality disorders include:

Each PD is different, has different causes, and affects the patient differently. It can be challenging for a person with a PD to recognize or accept that there is something harmful about with the way they function. Because of this, it can be difficult for a person with a PD to make or maintain healthy relationships.

PDs are challenging to treat. This is because it can be hard to break through to a person who has a PD. This makes it difficult to explain how their behavior negatively affects them. Treatment is different for each PD because each has different causes and symptoms.

Since treatment for PDs is challenging it is important to seek therapy from a professional trained in the specific PD diagnosis. Meeting with a professional who specializes in PDs will make a difference in treatment outcome.

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