What is personality disorder?

First, we need to understand that personality is the way we think, function, and behave. A personality disorder is a mental disorder or illness whose nature is so rigid that the person has trouble identifying and relating to circumstances and other people, reacting emotionally, and controlling their behavior.

Some people with personality disorders do not realize they have a condition because the way they think and act seems normal to them. Those with personality disorders have a habit of blaming others for the problems that face them.

Personality disorders begin in the teenage years and early adulthood, and there are several personality disorders. Some types of personality disorders may become less pronounced or less noticeable by middle age.

Specific types of personality disorder

Ten specific types of personality disorders are:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder – the person does not usually conform to social norms; they might continually lie or mislead others or act thoughtlessly.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder – the person is timid and avoids other people unless they are sure they will be liked, constantly worried about rejection or criticism, or look at themselves as not good enough or socially awkward.
  • Borderline personality disorder: -will be unstable in personal relationships, have intense emotions, a poor self-image, or be impulsive. They will go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, repeatedly try suicide, show misplaced powerful anger, or experience continuing moods of emptiness.
  • Dependent personality disorder – people who constantly need to be taken care of, show clingy behavior and are subservient. They will have trouble making daily decisions and feel helpless when alone because they are afraid they can’t take care of themselves.
  • Histrionic personality disorder – will display extreme emotion and attention-seeking. They need to be the center of attention and use looks and powerful emotions to achieve that need.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder needs admiration and lacks empathy for others; they have a pretentious sense of self-importance and entitlement and take advantage of others.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder – need for things to be a specific way, be extremely worried about germs to the point of constantly cleaning,
  • Paranoid personality disorder – believes people are out to get them, will not confide in others or allow them to get too close.
  • Schizoid personality disorder – usually does not pursue close relationships; instead decides to be alone and seems uncaring about approval or disapproval from others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder – very awkward in close relationships, has misleading thinking and odd behavior or speech, or may have unwarranted social anxiety.


Treatment is usually psychotherapy in one form or another. There are no specific drugs for personality disorder itself; some medications can be used for symptoms, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, or mood-stabilizing medication.

Forms of psychotherapy include:

  • Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychoeducation

449 Recovery can treat personality disorders and co-occurring conditions like substance abuse. If you or a loved one