Personality disorder, previously called a characterological disorder, is a category of mental illness characterized by rigid and on-going patterns of thought and action, sometimes referred to as “fixed fantasies”. As a result of the inflexibility and pervasiveness of these patterns, serious personal and social problems, as well as a general impairment of functioning for the afflicted individual, are possible.
A personality disorder is specifically defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it.”  These patterns are, as noted, inflexible and pervasive across many situations, due in large part to the fact that such behavior is ego-syntonic (i.e., the pattern(s) is/are consistent with the ego integrity of the individual), and perceived to be appropriate by that individual. The onset of these patterns can typically be traced back to early adulthood, and, in rare instances, early adolescence. To be diagnosed with a clinical disorder of any kind, a person’s pattern of behavior must cause significant distress, or impairment in personal, social, and/or occupational situations.
The DSM-IV-TR, a compendium of psychiatric and medically co-occurring disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists ten personality disorders, grouped into three clusters, as well as a category for symptom profiles that do not match any of these ten disorders specifically, but nevertheless have the characteristics of a personality disorder. This last category is labeled Personality Disorder NOS (i.e., Not Otherwise Specified).
Cluster A (odd or eccentric disorders)
Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, or erratic disorders)
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
Cluster C (anxious or fearful disorders)
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Press: Washington DC
- Huband N, Ferriter M, Nathan R, Jones H (2010). "Antiepileptics for aggression and associated impulsivity.". Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2: CD003499. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD003499.pub3. PMID 20166067. Research Blogging.
|Cluster A (Odd): Schizotypal | Schizoid | Paranoid|
Cluster B (Dramatic): Antisocial | Borderline | Histrionic | Narcissistic
Cluster C (Anxious): Dependent | Obsessive-Compulsive | Avoidant