We have all encountered people with interesting and challenging personalities at some point in our lives. On the flip side, many of these people are actually struggling with the consequences of having a personality disorder. The premise of personality disorders is a constellation of thoughts and behaviors that may be affected to the point of causing interpersonal conflicts with other people. Diagnostic criteria for all personality disorders include an altered perception of life events, intense emotional responses and inflexibility of these symptoms throughout many arenas of life.
I have heard many people imply that others they know suffer from a personality disorder and it is important to be aware that the severity of personality disorders vary (a trait vs. a full blown disorder) and when severe, can greatly impact the quality of one’s life and those they interact with. Psychiatrists often categorize patients with personality disorders into three clusters: A, B and C.
Cluster A includes the ‘odd or eccentric’ personality disorders like paranoid (suspicion or mistrust of others), schizoid (content with their loneliness and isolation) or schizotypal (magical thinking or cult like obsessions) types. Cluster B includes the ‘dramatic or emotional’ personality disorders like borderline (severe emotional instability which may lead to self harm), antisocial (disregard and violation of others), histrionic (attention seeking and dramatic behaviors) or narcissistic types (grandiose and empathy seeking behaviors). Cluster C includes the ‘anxious or fearful’ personality disorders like avoidant (feelings of social inadequacy and lack of self worth), dependent (constant need to be with others), or obsessive-compulsive personality (inflexible routines and behaviors) types. It’s important not to immediately diagnose yourself or someone else with a personality disorder and instead encourage them to seek assistance from a medical professional such as a psychiatrist, therapist or clinician.