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Personality Disorders

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Personality Disorders

Have you ever noticed certain traits about yourself that reveal themselves throughout your daily life? Perhaps you find yourself anxious and timid whenever you meet new people. Maybe you are someone who loves being the life of the party and the center of attention. These small quirks, sometimes even thought of as flaws, help shape each individual's personality.

However, there is a fine line that separates the unique traits that contribute to individuality and the complex psychological phenomena known as personality disorders. Let's discuss the clinical definition, types, and specific examples of personality disorders.

  • What are personality disorders?
  • How are personality disorders categorized?
  • What are examples of personality disorders?
  • What are tests for personality disorders?

What Are Personality Disorders?

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; 5th ed.), a personality disorder is empirically defined as a sequence of behavioral patterns and experiences that stray significantly from the usual cultural and societal expectations of an individual. A person diagnosed with a personality disorder usually experiences specific distressing and pervasive symptoms throughout their lifetime.

Essentially, an individual clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder exhibits traits considered highly unusual, rigid, and resistant to change. Unfortunately, one of the major hallmarks of a personality disorder is that the displayed behavioral pattern is often very unpleasant and troublesome for those diagnosed or others around them.

How Do Personality Disorders Differ from Personality Traits?

Sometimes, differentiating a personality disorder from a typical variation of personality traits can be pretty difficult. There are, however, a few prominent distinctions between them that indicate the presence of a disorder. Behavioral displays of typical personality traits stay within usual social and cultural expectations, whereas behavioral patterns in a personality disorder deviate from this completely.

Another difference between traits and personality disorders is the effect on social relationships. Someone with a few unpleasant traits may find some difficulty in getting along with certain individuals, while people with disorders may have significant issues with maintaining any kind of relationship. Clinical psychologists and professionals in mental health are still analyzing the differences between the two constructs and are constantly revising the criteria for diagnoses.

Types of Personality Disorders

There is a wide variety of personality disorders, which fall into three main categories. These categories, also known as clusters, divide the disorders into their respective groups depending on the behavioral patterns commonly displayed amongst them. By categorizing these types, psychologists can better predict the ideal treatment and approach for each identified disorder.

Cluster A

Personality disorders that fall into cluster A are types labeled schizotypal, paranoid, and schizoid personality disorders. Behavioral tendencies within this category are described as "odd and eccentric" (DSM-5). Individuals with these disorders are observed to have irrational thought patterns and very unconventional behaviour displays.

Cluster B

Cluster B personality disorders are often the most stable and resistant to change. Those diagnosed with disorders in this category tend to show impulsive and widely unpredictable behavior symptoms. The types of disorders in this cluster are histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, and borderline personality disorder.

Cluster C

People identified with cluster C personality disorders usually have emotional extremes described as "anxious and avoidant" (Funder, 2016). Obsessive-compulsive, avoidant, and dependent personality disorders are all included in this category.

Examples of Personality Disorders

To understand personality disorders better, it is crucial to discuss the specific types and examples that are heavily researched in clinical psychology. As mentioned above, ten known personality disorders are currently divided into clusters A, B, and C. Let's look at a few major disorders in cluster B.

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

  • Histrionic personality disorder comprises behavioral patterns described as extremely emotional and attention-seeking.

  • Those with this disorder may experience feeling constantly underappreciated or ignored when they are not in the "spotlight" (French, 2021).

  • People with this disorder may lack sincerity in their communication, engage in inappropriate and overtly sexual behaviors, and dress in explicit clothing.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

  • A person with NPD can initially come across as confident and charismatic, with high self-esteem.

  • They display patterns of behavior that negatively affect the well-being of others and themselves.

  • Traits include a ‘grandiose sense of self’, inflated ego, god-like complex, being entitled, and manipulative.

  • They are opposed to any truth that contradicts their superiority over others.

Several notorious serial killers are thought to have shown signs of narcissistic personality disorder (e.g., Elliot Rodger, Dennis Rader, and Ted Bundy).

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

  • This is considered the most severe type of personality disorder.

  • Symptoms include acute emotional instability, extremely unpredictable behavior, intense mood shifts, suicidal thoughts and self-harm, self-defeating thoughts and behavior, and extreme evaluations of relationships.
  • Two percent of the population is diagnosed with BPD, and 75 percent of those diagnosed are female (DSM-5).

Personality Disorder + Borderline personality disorder + StudySmarterBPD, flaticon.com

Testing for Personality Disorders

Diagnosing an individual with a personality disorder is no simple task. Due to the debilitating nature of many disorders, psychologists and mental health professionals pursue diagnoses with extreme caution and consideration. According to Funder (2016), steps taken to administer a proper diagnosis are:

  • assess the extent to which a patient’s daily life functioning is compromised,
  • evaluate whether or not the patient is displaying one or more of the types of personality disorders,
  • analyze the degree to which a patient's traits are identified as maladaptive.

Diagnostic tools include "The Five Maladaptive Traits" test described in DSM-5 (American Psychological Association, 2013). The traits listed in the test include:

  1. Negative affectivity - constant feelings of depression, paranoia, and discomfort.
  2. Detachment - inability to maintain social connections and the avoidance of emotion.
  3. Psychoticism - irrational thoughts and beliefs.
  4. Antagonism - manipulative behavior, lack of empathy for others, and narcissistic tendencies.
  5. Disinhibition - erratic and impulsive behavior.

This list of traits identifies whether or not an individual has a personality disorder. Descriptives included within the test also help determine the possibility of a patient having more than one type of personality disorder.

Personality Disorders - Key takeaways

  • The definition of a personality disorder is a collection of traits that significantly deviates from the usual cultural and societal expectations and causes distress to the individual or others.
  • There are three main clusters of personality disorders: clusters A, B, and C.
  • Three major examples of personality disorders are histrionic, narcissistic, and borderline personality disorder.
  • People with histrionic personality disorder are described as emotional and attention-seeking.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder traits include being entitled, manipulative, and feeling superior to others.
  • Borderline personality disorder traits include being erratic, impulsive, and reluctant to change.

Frequently Asked Questions about Personality Disorders

This personality disorder is classified as unpredictable behavior patterns, including intense mood swings, suicidal tendencies, and emotional instability.

A personality disorder is a collection of traits that significantly deviate from the usual societal expectations and cause distress to the individual or others.

A type of personality disorder that displays self-centered, entitled, and manipulative behavior patterns.

Examples of personality disorders include histrionic, narcissistic, and borderline personality disorders.

A personality disorder with a collection of harmful traits, including irritability, impulsivity, and aggression.

Final Personality Disorders Quiz

Question

What is the definition of a personality disorder?

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 A sequence of behavioral patterns that stray significantly from the usual societal expectations, and negatively affects the individual or others.

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What are some differences between personality traits and personality disorders?

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Unlike disorders, behavioral displays of typical personality traits stay within usual social and cultural expectations. They don't inhibit the individual's ability to maintain social relationships.

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How many clusters divide the types of personality disorders? What are they called?

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Three. Clusters A, B, and C.

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What disorders fall under cluster A?

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Schizotypal, schizoid, and paranoid.

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What personality disorders are present in cluster B?

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Histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, and borderline personality disorder.


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What disorders are present in cluster C?

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Dependent, avoidant, obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

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What is a person with a histrionic personality disorder like?

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Extremely emotional and attention-seeking.

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What is a person with a narcissistic personality disorder like?

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 Braggadocious, unable to feel empathy for others, entitled, manipulative.

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What is a person with a borderline personality disorder like?

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Self-defeating, impulsive, emotionally unstable, unpredictable, and displays extreme mood swings.

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How are personality disorders diagnosed?

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Through the five maladaptive traits test.

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How many types of personality disorders are there?

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Ten

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What percent of the population has been diagnosed with BPD?

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Two percent.

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Personality traits and disorders are the same. True or False?

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False

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It is easy to diagnose someone with a personality disorder. True or False?

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False.

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How long can symptoms of a personality disorder last in those who are diagnosed?

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For their entire life.

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What are personality disorders?

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Personality disorders are specifically those disorders that impact the core of a person and how they relate to others and the world.

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True or False: personality disorders can occur over a short period of time.

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False: personality disorders are severe and long-term.

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True or False: it is fairly easy for a clinician to diagnose someone with a personality disorder.

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False: diagnosis is difficult. Clinicians are looking for long-term patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling that aren't due to any other possible causes.

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True or False: It is pretty easy for someone with a personality disorder to find treatment.

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False: Living with a personality disorder is difficult and finding effective treatment can be nearly impossible

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What is the common characteristic of Cluster A personality disorders?

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weird or eccentric behaviors or thinking patterns

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What is the common characteristic of Cluster B personality disorders?

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Extreme emotionality or unpredictability

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What is the common characteristic of Cluster C personality disorders?

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Extremely fearful, timid, or anxious characteristics

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True or False: Personality disorders are controversial.

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True: Clinicians have different opinions on how to understand, diagnose, and treat these disorders.

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What are the Cluster A personality disorders?

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Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

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What are the Cluster B personality disorders? 

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Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

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What are the Cluster C personality disorders?

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Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

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True or False: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is nearly identical to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

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False: Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is much different than Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

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What is a symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

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Possible answers: superiority, fantasies of greatness, entitlement, exploitation of others, lack of empathy.

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What is a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder?

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Possible answers: deeply intense emotions, intimate relationship difficulties, extreme fear of abandonment, struggles with self-identity, suicidal thoughts/behaviors.

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What is a symptom of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

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Possible answers: lack of empathy or concern for others, rejection of rules or standards of others, lack of remorse or guilt, illegal or hurtful actions, impulsivity, neglect of responsibilities.

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True or False: Antisocial Personality Disorder can be diagnosed in those as young as 12.

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False: Antisocial Personality Disorder can only be diagnosed in those that are 18 or older.

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Someone with a personality disorder is at higher risk of developing another personality disorder. This is known as...

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high comorbidity

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What book is used, in the United States, to diagnose mental disorders? 

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; 5th ed.)

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True or False: Someone has to be clinically diagnosed with a personality disorder. 

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True

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Ana has just been diagnosed with a personality disorder. Her symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations, and eccentric behavior. 

Which cluster would Ana's personality disorder fall under? 

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Cluster A

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Kevin has just been diagnosed with a personality disorder. His symptoms include impulsive behavior and antisocial tendencies. 

Which cluster would Kevin's personality disorder fall under? 

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Answer

Cluster B

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Jax has just been diagnosed with a personality disorder. His symptoms include anxiety attacks and a constant need to be with his parents and sister. 

Which cluster would Jax's personality disorder fall under? 

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Answer

Cluster C

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Which of the following disorders would not fall under Clyster B? 

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

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What percent of the population diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is female? 

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Answer

75%

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Select all the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Hint: There is more than one answer. 

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Acute Emotional Instability 

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Select all the steps taken to administer a proper diagnosis of a personality disorder.

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Answer

Analyze the degree to which a patient's traits are identified as maladaptive.

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Select the five traits listed in "The Five Maladaptive Traits" test described in the DSM-5. 

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Negative affectivity

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Which of the following traits is not matched to its right description? 

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Negative affectivity - manipulative behavior, lack of empathy for others, and narcissistic tendencies.

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Which of the following is considered the most severe type of personality disorder? 

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Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

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Those with this disorder may experience feeling constantly underappreciated or ignored when they are not in the "spotlight" (French, 2021).

Which disorder does the above information describe? 

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Answer

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

Show question

Question

Those with this disorder may lack sincerity in their communication, engage in inappropriate and overtly sexual behaviors, and dress in explicit clothing.

Which disorder does the above information describe?  

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Answer

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

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Question

Those with this disorder display patterns of behavior that negatively affect the well-being of others and themselves.

Which disorder does the above information describe?   

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Answer

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

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How many personality disorders are there (in total)? 

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Answer

10 

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Fill in the blank: Cluster ___ includes 3 personality disorders with symptoms that evidence weird or eccentric behaviors or thinking patterns.  

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A

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Fill in the blanks: Cluster ___ includes 4 personality disorders that evidence extremely emotional or unpredictable behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. 

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B

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