personality disorder

A pathological disturbance of the patterns of perception, communication, and thinking that impairs a person's ability to function effectively. Personality disorders are manifested in at least two of the following areas: cognition, affect, interpersonal functioning, or impulse control. Generally, the disorder is of long duration, and its onset can be traced to early adolescence.

Psychotherapy, psychopharmacological drugs, or a combination of the two is used in treating these disorders although many personality disorders resist treatment.

antisocial personality disorder

ABBR: ASPD A type of personality disorder characterized by disregard for the rights and feelings of others. It usually begins before age 15. In early childhood, lying, stealing, fighting, truancy, and disregard of authority are common. In adolescence, aggressive sexual behavior, excessive use of alcohol, and drug use may be characteristic. In adulthood, these behaviorial patterns continue with the addition of poor work performance, inability to function responsibly as a parent, and inability to accept normal restrictions imposed by the law. Affected people may repeatedly perform illegal acts (such as destroying property, harassing others, or stealing) or pursue illegal occupations. They disregard the safety, wishes, rights, and feelings of others. This type of personality disorder is not due to mental retardation, schizophrenia, or manic episodes. It is much more common in males than females.
SYN: SEE: dissocial personality disorder
SEE: psychopathy; SEE: sociopathy

avoidant personality disorder

A personality disorder marked by a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to criticism. This begins by early adulthood and is present in various situations (such as school, work, or activities involving contact with others). People with this disorder desire affection, security, certainty, and acceptance and may fantasize about idealized relationships with others.

borderline personality disorder

A personality disorder in which there is difficulty in maintaining stable interpersonal relationships and self-image. This manifests as unpredictable and impulsive behavior, outbursts of anger, irritability, sadness, and fear. Self-mutilation or suicidal behavior may also be present. Sometimes there is a chronic feeling of emptiness or boredom.

cluster A personality disorder

Any of a group of personality disorders sharing traits of odd behavior and social isolation. This group of diagnoses includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.

cluster B personality disorder

Any of a group of personality disorders sharing traits of attention seeking, highly excitable emotional states, and unpredictable behavior. This group includes antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic personality disorders.

Cluster C personality disorder

Any of a group of personality disorders in which anxious and fearful behavior is a prominent feature. This group includes dependent, avoidant, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

dissocial personality disorder

dyssocial personality disorderSEE: Antisocial personality disorder.

histrionic personality disorder

A personality disorder marked by excessive emotionalism and attention seeking. Those affected are active, dramatic, prone to exaggerate, and subject to irrational, angry outbursts or tantrums. They express boredom with normal routines and crave novelty and excitement. Behavior in interpersonal relationships is shallow, vain, demanding, and dependent.

multiple personality disorder

SEE: Dissociative identity disorder.

obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

SEE: Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

narcissistic personality disorder

A personality disorder marked by a grandiose sense of self-importance and preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, or beauty. The individual believes that his or her problems are unique and can only be understood by other “special” people. There is an exhibitionistic need for admiration and attention, a lack of sympathy, and an inability to understand how others feel.

paranoid personality disorder

A personality disorder characterized by unwarranted suspiciousness and mistrust of others, hypervigilance directed at hidden motives or intent to harm, hypersensitivity to criticism, tendency to hold grudges and to be easily offended, and reluctance to confide in others.
SYN: SEE: paranoid disorder

passive-aggressive personality disorder

A personality disorder marked by indirect resistance to demands for adequate occupational or social performance through procrastination, dawdling, stubbornness, inefficiency, or forgetfulness. The disorder begins in early childhood and may manifest itself in refusal to complete routine tasks, complaints of being misunderstood or unappreciated, sullen or argumentative attitude, pronounced envy of others, and behavior that alternates between hostile defiance and contrition.

schizoid personality disorder

A personality disorder characterized by shyness, oversensitivity, seclusiveness, dissociation from close interpersonal or competitive relationships, eccentricity, daydreaming, preference for solitary activities, and inability to express anger or joy in situations that normally call for such a reaction. In most social interactions, those affected seem cold or aloof.