By definition, a personality disorder falls into a class of mental disorder marked by dysfunctional
behavior and thought patterns.
This dysfunction sets the individual apart from others when it
comes to the ways in which they perceive things and relate to other people. The consequences of
the dysfunction inherent in different types of personality disorders include the breakdown of
personal relationships, problems at work or school, and limitations in social activities.
Personality disorders usually begin or become apparent during an individual’s teens or early
adulthood, when the integration of their identity into greater society or their specific culture is
seen as problematic due to certain behaviors and ways of thinking that clearly deviate from the
‘norm’ and go beyond the regular weird and strange people that seem to stand out from society.
What makes the differences a personality disorder is the rigidity in which they are entrenched,
often causing intense distress to an individual to the point where they feel their condition is
disabling. Instead of setting them apart – like so many individualists take pride in – a personality
disorder is impairing and disruptive to a healthy way of life.
Although a specific cause for personality disorders is yet to be determined, studies prove that a
combination of biological and environmental factors play a significant role in their development.
These studies have helped identify risk factors, like experiences of trauma and abuse, that
together with genetic predisposition can lead to the onset of personality disorders. Different types
of disorders have varying risk factors that depend on the individual’s biology combined with
There are currently ten different types of personality disorders that are grouped into three
categories – Suspicious; Emotional and Impulsive; Anxious. The disorders are grouped
according to the specific characteristics each presents, giving deeper insight into establishing
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
Emotional and Impulsive
- Borderline Personality Disorder: Marked by intense variations in moods, behaviors, and
self-image. An individual with BPD is likely to have extreme episodes alternating
between depression, rage, and anxiety. Episodes may last anything from a few hours to
several days. Research suggests that those at risk include individuals who have a parent
with BPD, have structural irregularities in the parts of the brain that control impulse and
the regulation of emotion, have experienced childhood trauma or abuse.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Marked by an individual’s highly inflated sense of self-
importance. These people have an intense need for attention and notably lack the ability
to empathize since they are unable to perceive any point of view aside from their own.
Narcissists don’t deal well with stress and find it difficult to adapt to change. They’re
prone to outbursts of anger, and personal relationships are problematic. Research
suggests that children who have experienced either overprotective or neglectful parenting
are at risk of developing this disorder in later life.
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder: Marked by extreme organization and
perfectionism. People with this disorder find it difficult to function when these extremes
are not met in the outside world. Anxiety and depression are therefore common among
individuals with OCPD. The exact cause is yet unknown, but research suggests that
people with existing mental health problems are more likely than others to develop this
A recent study showed that more people are diagnosed with personality disorders than any other
type of mental illness. But instead of being disheartening, this information is encouraging
because it implies that people are recognizing that they need help, and then following through
and seeking that help. There is no need to be buffered through life, being impaired by
dysfunctional behaviors and thoughts when the appropriate support exists for people with
personality disorders to go on to lead successful and fulfilling lives.
Identifying a problem is the
first step, but in order to properly treat and manage a personality disorder, you have to make an
appointment with a medical professional so that a diagnosis can be made. Only after a proper
diagnosis is made can the best route for treatment be established, taking into account your
specific situation and needs.
Treatment methods vary depending on the type of personality
disorder and your individual life experience. Your doctor may recommend psychotherapy,
medication (antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, mood stabilizers), and adjustments to lifestyle –
regular exercise, good nutrition, etc. Most often, it’s a combination of these that make up a
holistic treatment plan that will allow the individual to regain control of their condition.
At ZwavelStream Clinic we believe that the best way to assist you on your way to healing is to
provide that holistic approach – taking care of the whole in order to achieve wellbeing. We have
psychologists available for an appointment if you or someone you know is experiencing any of
the symptoms mentioned in this article.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or
would like more information about personality disorders.