Personality disorders form a class of mental disorders that are characterized by long-lasting, rigid patterns of thought and behavior. Because of the inflexibility and pervasiveness of these patterns, they can cause serious problems and issues in a person's life if they are diagnosed with a personality disorder. Personality disorders are categorized by clusters of characteristics that share common themes or elements. While most people recognize traits of themselves in many different personality disorders, a person who qualifies for a personality disorder diagnosis will exhibit most such traits of a disorder.
Personality disorders are seen by professionals and researchers 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 inflexible and pervasive across many situations. The onset of the pattern can be traced back at least to the beginning of adulthood. To be diagnosed as a personality disorder, a behavioral pattern must cause significant distress or impairment in personal, social, and/or occupational situations.
These disorders typically aren't diagnosed until an individual is a young adult, often not until their 20s or even 30s. Most individuals with personality diorders lead pretty normal lives and often only seek psychotherapeutic treatment during times of increased stress or social demands. As previously mentioned, most people can relate to some or all of the personality traits listed The important difference is that it does not affect most people's daily functioning to the same degree it might someone diagnosed with one of these disorders. Personality disorders tend to be an intergral part of a person, and therefore, are difficult to treat or "cure."
If you're interested in personality and want to learn more about normal personality traits and characteristics, please take the Psych Central Personality Test. (It is not for determining whether you would qualify for any of the below diagnoses.)
Symptoms and Treatments of Personality DisordersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Feb 2016
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