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Personality disorders refer to a class of disorders characterized by rigid, chronic, and self-defeating patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. These patterns often cause serious personal and interpersonal problems.

Personality disorders are described by the American Psychiatric Association as demonstrating an "enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual that exhibits it." They are inflexible and pervasive across varied situations, due primarily to the fact that such behaviors are "ego-syntonic" (i.e., patterns that are consistent with the identity of the individual). Therefore, such patterns are perceived as appropriate by the individual but inappropriate by those around him/her.

The beginning of these dysfunctional behavioral patterns can typically be traced back to early childhood experiences. Cognition (thoughts such as expectations, attitudes, and attributions), affect (the range and intensity of emotional responses), interpersonal functioning (ability to relate to others and the environment), and impulse control (ability to modulate emotions and emotional reactivity) are all adversely affected. Significant impairments in social, occupational and/or other critical areas of functioning result.

In a diagnostic evaluation Personality Disorders are listed separately (Axis II), to ensure that special consideration will be given to the possible presence of a personality disorder that might be otherwise overlooked when attention is focused on the usually more common and florid Axis I disorders.

There are three Personality Disorder groups. Each is distinguished by a different set of dysfunctional psychological patterns.

Cluster A Personality Disorders include:
Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

Cluster B Personality Disorders include:
Antisocial Personality Disorder, B orderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Cluster C Personality Disorders include:
Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, and Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Psychotherapy is the treatment of choice. This therapy, available at Spectrum Behavioral Health, focuses on identifying, understanding, and modifying problematic personality patterns.

References:
  • American Psychiatric Association (2000).  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed.. (text revision). (DSM-IV-TR). Arlington, VA.
  • Klausch, Tasja (2006). Articles about personality Disorders. Web4Health 2006.
  • Marshal, W. & Serin, R. (1997) Personality Disorders.  In Sm. Turner M. & Hersen R. (Eds.) Adult Psychopathology and Diagnosis.  New York: Wiley. 508-541
  • Millon, T (and R. D. Davis, contributor)-Disorders of Personality:DSM IV and Beyond-2nd ed.-New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1995 ISBN 0-471-01186-X
  • Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships With People With Disorders of Personality and Character (Yudofsky, S.C., M.D. ISBN 1-58562-214-1