What Is a Personality Disorder?
Someone with a personality disorder exhibits a
chronic pattern of behaviors that are based in his or her personality,
which means essentially that they affect everything: moods, actions, and
Personality disorders are classified as "Axis II" on
the five "axes" of mental health disorders, meaning they are chronic,
usually lifelong. (The other occupant on this lonely axis is mental
retardation.) This would be opposed to most of the mental health
disorders that are commonly written about, such as depression or bipolar, where
the symptoms tend to come and go, leaving the person "normal" (if there
is such a thing) between episodes. Often an episode of depression or
bipolar mania can be battled into submission with medication. Not so
the personality disorders. PD's are very difficult to work with, because the way the person perceives and responds to the world becomes ingrained and very entrenched. To be diagnosed with a PD, your behavior has to be causing you or those around you significant unhappiness or difficulty.
PD's are important because they cause a lot of suffering, and about 9% of the population suffers from one.
The DSM-5 lists 10 personality disorders in three groups or "clusters":
Cluster A (Odd, bizarre, eccentric)
Paranoid PD, Schizoid PD, Schizotypal PD
Cluster B (Dramatic, erratic)
Cluster C (Anxious, fearful)
Avoidant PD, Dependent PD, Obsessive-compulsive PD
Come read about some of the more common personality disorders. This website, new and under construction, will give you a visceral sense of what they are and how it feels to have one by exploring examples of PD's everyone has seen in the movies, on TV, or in the news.