Personality Disorders You Need to Know About

Although it can be difficult to diagnose, mental illness is a serious issue, affecting 1 in 5 U.S. adults in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It has even been said that our president, Donald Trump has a personality disorder. Believe it or not, some of the most complex mental illnesses include personality disorders.

Understanding what these personality disorders are and how they manifest in an individual is important. Here are 10 you need to know about.

1. Paranoid personality disorder

Irritated woman looks on while her husband talks on the phone

Paranoid personality disorder can put a rift in your relationships. | iStock.com

If a person’s social fears far exceed simply disliking others talking behind their back, it could be a sign of paranoid personality disorder, or PPD. The three main factors of PPD are ongoing suspicion, feelings of persecution, and grandiosity. And most importantly, this disorder involves a major discrepancy between how the person outwardly appears, or presents himself, and his own inner world. Despite their seemingly confident persona, which comes across as demanding, arrogant, and moralistic, people with PPD are actually timid, self-doubting, and vulnerable to erotomania (a delusion in which an individual thinks another is in love with them).

2. Schizoid personality disorder

woman annoyed at bar

People with schizoid personality disorder are totally indifferent to others. | iStock.com

While it may sound similar to the complex disease that is schizophrenia, schizoid personality disorder differs in a few key factors. People who suffer from schizoid personality disorder exhibit lifelong patterns of indifference to other people and social isolation. In people with schizophrenia, though, there is a disconnect from reality, which often appears in the form of hallucinations or delusions.

Just as the saying goes, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. And similarly, these people’s feelings are totally removed from any type of social or emotional situation. According to Medline Plus, a person with schizoid personality disorder appears distant and detached, avoids social activities that involve emotional closeness with other people, and does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members.

3. Schizotypal personality disorder

Couple watching horror movie on television on the couch

People with schizotypal personality disorder often avoid intimacy. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch

Yet another disorder of similar name, schitzotypal personality disorder affects a person’s interpersonal relationships and skills due to patterns of disturbed thoughts and behavior, unusual beliefs and fears, and an inability to form intimate relationships. According to Psychology Today, people with this disorder may be susceptible to joining cults or believing in witches or aliens. Additionally, these people may exhibit odd speech digressions, experience distorted thinking, and avoid intimacy.

4. Antisocial personality disorder

couple arguing

People with antisocial personality disorder disregard other people’s rights. | iStock.com

People who have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder aren’t just your friends you consider less-than-social. Sometimes referred to as sociopathic personality disorder, or sociopathy, this disorder is defined as a pattern of disregard for, and violation of, other people’s rights. According to the National Institutes of Health, “People with antisocial personality disorder may disregard social norms and laws, repeatedly lie, place others at risk for their own benefit, and demonstrate a profound lack of remorse.”

5. Borderline personality disorder

sad woman grasping her head

Those with borderline typically have unstable moods and tumultuous relationships. | iStock.com

You’ve probably heard of this one before, as it describes people who display a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. According to the NIH, a person with borderline personality disorder often exhibits impulsive actions and unstable relationships, and they may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to several days.

Common symptoms of borderline personality disorder include impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, and substance abuse. Additionally, they may have recurring suicidal thoughts or threats, self-harming behavior, and suffer from dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself or losing touch with reality.

6. Histrionic personality disorder

Candid picture of a female boss and business team collaborating

These people often heavily rely on physical appearance. | iStock.com/julief514

Characterized by constant attention-seeking, emotional overreaction, and suggestibility, histrionic personality disorder may impair a person’s relationships and also lead to depression. However, people who suffer from the disorder are often high-functioning.

Furthermore, Psychology Today says people with this disorder can also take the role of life of the party. They need to be the center of attention, and when they are not, they become uncomfortable or feel unappreciated. They can act in a theatrical and self-centered manner, and may use sexual seductiveness in inappropriate situations. They’ll likely charm new acquaintances with their flirtatious demeanor, but their emotional expression is often shallow, and the delivery of stories will be impressionistic rather than detail-focused.

7. Narcissistic personality disorder

Wonder Woman

A narcissist puts herself on a pedestal. | Warner Bros.

This one probably doesn’t need too much explaining, but it’s certainly important to note. As the Mayo Clinic establishes, it’s crucial to distinguish narcissistic personality disorder from a person who’s just overly confident. With the disorder, a person crosses the line of thinking so highly of himself that he puts himself on a pedestal, and often has a hefty sense of entitlement. A true narcissist values himself more than he does others, and expects everyone to bow down to him, so to speak. He thrives on, and believes he truly deserves, the admiration of others, and feels as though he deserves the very best of everything. Behind this peacock-strutting facade, though, is a fragile self-esteem that cannot bear to hear the slightest of criticisms.

8. Avoidant personality disorder

nervous stressed young woman

This disorder causes you to avoid social interaction. | iStock.com/SIphotography

People who suffer from avoidant personality disorder don’t just experience the occasional bout of shyness from time to time. On the contrary, they experience extreme social inhibition, have feelings of inadequacy, and are acutely sensitive to actual or perceived rejection. According to NIH, these feelings are so extreme, they lead to an avoidance of social interaction in such a way their daily life is negatively affected.

9. Dependent personality disorder

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks

Dependent personality disorder is marked by an excessive neediness. | iStock.com/SIphotography

It’s one thing to have to rely on another person from time to time to fulfill needs, but for people who suffer from dependent personality disorder, this reliance far exceeds that of a healthy, high-functioning individual. Dependent personality disorder is characterized by an excessive need to be taken care of, which eventually leads to a submissive and clinging behavior, along with fears of separation.

Furthermore, Psychology Today points out this:

This need for others to assume responsibility goes beyond age-appropriate and situation-appropriate requests for assistance from others (such as the specific needs of children, elderly persons and handicapped persons). Because they fear losing support or approval, individuals with dependent personality disorder often have difficulty expressing disagreement with other people, especially those on whom they are dependent.

While the cause of the disorder is not known, it typically appears in early adulthood and is considered common, but not well studied.

10. Obsessive compulsive personality disorder

woman in glasses looking up with light idea bulb

A person with OCPD thinks their way is the best way. | iStock.com/SIphotography

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder differs mainly from obsessive compulsive disorder in that people with OCD are aware their unwanted thoughts are unreasonable, whereas those with OCPD consider their way to be the right and best way. And while OCD often interferes in areas of a person’s life including work, social and/or family life, OCPD typically interferes with interpersonal relationships, but makes work functioning more efficient. A person’s job itself is not hurt by OCPD traits, rather his or her relationships with co-workers are typically strained.

According to the International OCD Foundation, OCPD is characterized by rigid adherence to rules and regulations, an overwhelming need for order, and a sense of righteousness about the way things should be done. Symptoms include an excessive devotion to work that impairs social and family activities, perfectionism that interferes with finishing tasks, and an unwillingness to assign tasks unless others perform exactly as asked. It’s clear to see why having a boss or co-worker with OCPD would be frustrating, to say the least.

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