Personality Disorder

Personality disorders are increasingly recognised as major mental health issues.

What is a Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by enduring patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience that deviate significantly from the expectations of the individual’s culture. These patterns are pervasive, inflexible, and often lead to distress or impairment in various areas of life, including relationships and work.

Personality disorders typically emerge in adolescence or early adulthood and persist over time. They can significantly impact a person’s ability to function effectively in society.

Types of Personality Disorder

There are several types of personality disorders, and they are generally grouped into three clusters based on similar characteristics:

  1. Cluster A (Odd, Eccentric Disorders):
    • Paranoid
    • Schizoid
    • Schizotypal
  2. Cluster B (Dramatic, Emotional, Erratic Disorders):
    • Antisocial
    • Borderline
    • Histrionic
    • Narcissistic
  3. Cluster C (Anxious, Fearful Disorders):
    • Avoidant
    • Dependent
    • Obsessive-Compulsive

It’s important to note that everyone may exhibit certain personality traits, but a personality disorder involves the presence of extreme, inflexible patterns of behavior that cause significant distress or impairment.

Diagnosing and treating personality disorders can be complex, often requiring long-term therapeutic approaches. Psychotherapy, medications, and support from mental health professionals are common components of treatment. It’s essential for individuals with concerns about their mental health or personality to seek professional help for accurate assessment and guidance.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of a personality disorder vary depending on the specific type of disorder, but they generally involve patterns of behavior, cognition, and interpersonal functioning that deviate markedly from cultural expectations. Here are some general symptoms that may be observed in individuals with personality disorders:

  1. Cognitive and Perceptual Distortions:
    • Unusual or distorted beliefs about oneself, others, or the world.
    • Difficulty interpreting and understanding social cues.
    • Paranoia or suspicion without sufficient basis.
  2. Emotional Dysregulation:
    • Intense or unstable emotions.
    • Difficulty managing anger or frustration.
    • Chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom.
  3. Interpersonal Difficulties:
    • Impaired ability to form and maintain relationships.
    • Lack of empathy for others.
    • Fear of rejection or abandonment.
    • Difficulty understanding and responding to social norms.
  4. Behavioral Patterns:
    • Impulsivity and recklessness.
    • Self-destructive behaviors, such as self-harm or substance abuse.
    • Persistent patterns of deceit or manipulation.
  5. Coping Mechanisms:
    • Maladaptive coping strategies, such as avoidance or isolation.
    • Difficulty adapting to different situations or learning from experience.
  6. Identity Disturbance:
    • Unstable self-image or sense of identity.
    • Feeling as though one does not know oneself.
    • Identity crisis or confusion about life goals.
  7. Difficulty Functioning in Different Roles:
    • Challenges in work, school, or social settings.
    • Inability to fulfill responsibilities and commitments.

It’s important to note that individuals with personality disorders may not recognize the impact of their behavior on themselves and others. Diagnosis and treatment typically involve a thorough assessment by mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.

Treatment may include psychotherapy, medication, and support from a mental health team. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can help individuals with personality disorders manage symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

About us

Use this site to find out more about the different personality disorders, including borderline, antisocial and dangerous and severe, and what the diagnosis means. Also keep up with the latest news about what is happening in the world of personality disorder and how you can get involved.

Therapeutic communities and environments have long been recognised as important approaches in personality disorder. A course for those wishing to train in these methods is now taking applications: Tcept

Personality Disorder History

Click here to find out about the history

Other informative sites include:

The NHS personality disorder page

The British and Irish Group for the Study of Personality Disorder is the research body for personality disorder research in the UK and Ireland.

Emergence was a service user (patient) led organisation, previously known as Borderline UK. Please note that Emergence is no longer operational. Their support services are no longer available, however information is still accessible on their website. National training services are provided by Training and Vocational Initiatives in personality disorder, which can be found here.

The Royal College of Psychiatrist’s website resource on personality disorder.

For information for carers, see our carers page here.

This site commissioned by Personality Disorder development team, UK Department of Health.