What Is a Personality Disorder?

Personality Disorders are a group of mental illnesses that causes individuals to have unusual and long-term thought patterns that lead to inappropriate behaviors. These types of symptoms typically will cause acute functioning in all aspects of an individual’s life. As one of the most difficult mental health disorders to treat, the person living with the personality disorder often is unaware that there is anything wrong with their skewed thinking. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 9.1 percent of  the United States adult population experienced a personality disorder in a 12-month prevalence period. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes a personality disorder as when a person experiences “significant impairments in [themselves] and interpersonal functioning.” Personality disorders can be long lasting and effect the number of areas:

  • Thinking about oneself
  • Emotional responses
  • Relating to others
  • Controlling one’s own behavior

Types of Personality Disorders

According to the DSM-V, there are 10 types of personality disorders in three separate categories (Clusters A, B, and C) in which they are categorized. Cluster A disorders are characterized as odd and eccentric behaviors and includes the following disorders:

Cluster A Disorders

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

Paranoid Personality Disorder is typically defined by extreme mistrust and suspicion in thought patterns that it interferes with an individual’s daily functioning. An individual suffering from this personality disorder will be suspicious of family, friends, systems, and environments and disort experiences they have to validate their suspicions. 

Schizoid Personality Disorder 

A person with Schizoid Personality Disorder is detached and expresses minimal emotions. These individuals will prefer isolation and do not long for emotional or physical intimacy. These people also do not seem to care about praise or criticism from others and will appear distant.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

A person with this disorder tends to have eccentric speech and behavior. They may hear voices, act in an odd manner and tend to avoid social contact due to the fact that they believe other people may be harmful. 

Cluster B Disorders

Cluster B Disorders involve characteristics that are erratic, dramatic, and include the following disorders:

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Someone with antisocial personality disorder does not conform to social norms and tends to violate the rights of others. They don’t pay attention to social rules and often act aggressive, feeling no guilt for their actions. They may be filled with lies or deceit and act impulsively.

Borderline Personality Disorder

People with borderline personality disorder tend to be emotionally unstable, have intense emotions, poor self-image, and have had a series of short-lived relationships. These individuals tend to have extreme mood swings, low self-worth, and have an irrational fear of being abandoned. Most who experience symptoms of borderline personality disorder have had sexual trauma or were bullied during childhood. 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder involves characteristics of people basing their self-esteem and wellbeing from the approval of others. Most often, these individuals resort to dramatizing their needs and having an obsession with appearance or inappropriate behavior to garner attention from others. Most people who are histrionic have superficial relationships and are sensitive to criticism, as they cannot process rejection in a healthy way. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with narcissistic personality disorder have an unhealthy and exaggerated obsession with self-importance. These people have a need for validation and have a lack of compassion and empathy for others around them. More often than not, they also have a sense of entitlement and prioritize their needs over others. 

Cluster C Disorders

Cluster C Personality Disorders are most often characterized by anxious or fearful thoughts, creating avoidant and dependent behaviors. These personality disorders are marked by the following:

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized exactly how it sounds. With patterns of avoidance and extreme shyness, these individuals face feelings of inadequacy and have a preoccupation of being rejected or criticized. These people also believe that they are socially inept and not good enough, resulting in avoidant behavior in areas such as school, work, family life, and social settings. 

Dependent Personality Disorder

Someone with dependent personality disorder tends to be clingy and depends on others for everyday decisions to get their needs met. They have a deep fear of abandonment and take no sense of responsibility for their actions. These individuals will also often appear to be childlike and helpless with little to no sense of identity. 

Symptoms of Personality Disorders

Symptoms of personality disorders may vary from person to person depending on the type of disorder. However, there are a number of common symptoms that can be identified by a mental health professional following the guidelines in the DSM-V. Most individuals suffering from a personality disorder can exhibit the following general symptoms but not be limited to:

  • Lack in sense of self
  • Impairments in relationships
  • Detachment
  • Avoiding relationships
  • Attention seeking behaviors over a long period of time
  • Extremely low sense of self-worth, or inflated ego.
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Inaccurate perceptions of other people’s needs or feelings
  • An inability to empathize with others
  • Anger, aggression, or irritability
  • Avoidance or discomfort in social situations

Personality Disorders and Addiction: Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Personality disorders can create extreme and erratic behaviors. Living with a personality disorder can create feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and fear. Coping with these feelings can cause individuals to turn to substances to calm their frustrations – resulting in addiction.

While addiction does not result in personality disorders, they may contribute to addiction. Past research indicates that between 65 percent and 90 percent of individuals evaluated for substance abuse have at least one co-occurring personality disorder. In addition, Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience noted that as many as 66 percent  of individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have a psychological dependence on drugs, alcohol, or both.

Treatment For Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are more often treated by numerous behavioral therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Treatment duration depends on the severity of the disorder and an individual’s situation. Most often, a clinical setting is needed to determine the best course of action by a group of clinicians to determine the best course of action and ensure that behavioral, psychiatric, medical, and social needs are met.

In addition, one-on-one counseling is often accompanied by family support to educate each member of the family characteristics involved and what recovery looks like from a personality disorder. There are also times when prescription medicine can be used temporarily to help aid personality disorder symptoms and can be used along with behavioral therapy in treatment.

Personality Disorder Treatment in Los Angeles

Launch Centers in Los Angeles understands the toll that personality disorders can cause alongside substance abuse. Our distinguished clinicians create individualized treatment plans for young adults and educates families on the side effects, behaviors, and treatment goals. With an individualized treatment process, each over clients begin to uncover root causes, develop new coping skills, and live a life of possibilities. 

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