The outlook of a
patient with a personality disorder
may be rigid and inflexible.
The person with a personality disorder may believe that their behaviors and interpretations of situations are normal. However,
their thought processes and behaviors may be self-destructive and self-denigrating. Other people are sometimes
blamed for any problems or difficulties that arise.
They may find it harder than other people to respond to the changes and demands of life. Others may regard
them as dysfunctional in the way they assess situations and relate to people around them.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
With this condition, you feel that people are always trying to take advantage
of you, even when there’s no logical reason for it. You may get angry when someone questions you, or not want
to tell people about yourself because you think they’ll somehow use it against you. All this can make it hard
to trust others and build healthy relationships.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
This condition can make it hard to express your emotions. You might show
little or no reaction if someone yells at you or sings your praises -- this can make you come across as “cold.”
You may find it hard to feel pleasure and have little interest in sexual relationships. Others may think you
lack goals or ambition.
You may have strange beliefs -- that you can read people’s minds, for example -- and
your clothes may be odd or messy. You might not react to things that make most people emotional and often doubt
or suspect others’ intentions. People may not know how to respond to your rambling and unclear conversation.
You might be really anxious around people outside your immediate family and prefer to be alone.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
You may try to make others angry, trick them, or treat them badly to get
what you want. You may not care what’s right or wrong. You may lie and do things that are reckless, violent,
and even illegal. You usually don’t feel bad when you hurt others, and drug and alcohol abuse may be problems,
too. People with this condition often have a hard time keeping a job or taking care of their families.
Borderline Personality Disorder
You may have strong feelings of anger, sadness, or anxiety that suddenly
change. You may frantically try to connect with someone if you think they want to separate from you. You swing
between extremes: A friend may be “perfect” one day and awful the next. This makes for intense, rocky relationships.
You can act impulsively -- drug abuse, reckless driving, or risky sex, for example -- if you don’t have a strong
sense of who you are.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Our desire to be noticed is stronger than every other feeling. You probably
have good social skills, but you use them to make yourself the center of attention. You don’t seem interested
in other people. You may be too concerned about how you look, and dress sexy to attract people even when it’s
not appropriate. You may act like you’re on stage, with over-the-top emotions and speech that changes very
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
You want to make yourself look good, even if you must hurt or ignore
others to do it. You may brag a lot or pretend to be someone you’re not, or stop people who want to have their
say, especially if you think you’re more important. You may get angry when you don’t get treated the way you
want. Inside, you’re insecure, oversensitive, and may lash out if criticized. You get moody and depressed if
someone makes you feel less than perfect.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
No one wants to look foolish, but with this condition, you’d rather be alone
than take even the smallest risk that someone will reject you or make you look bad in front of others. You
may make problems bigger than they need to be, find it hard to try new things, and see yourself as unattractive.
This can make you afraid to connect with others and very uncomfortable in large groups.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
A desire to control people, tasks, or situations is at the core
of this disorder. Your attention to rules, details, and order can be extreme. You may find it hard to relax
or like you have to do everything yourself. You may judge other people harshly.
This isn’t the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder, where a pattern of unreasonable thoughts can lead you
to do something over and over, like wash your hands too much to avoid germs.
Dependent Personality Disorder
You may be too clingy because you hate to be apart from those you're closest
to. The thought they could leave forever causes serious fear. You don't have a lot of confidence and aren't
eager to try new things. Even everyday decisions can be hard as you feel you need approval from others first.
When a romantic relationship ends, you often start a new one right away. And you may put up with abuse from
someone just to keep them around.
Do I Have One?
You probably won’t know it on your own. People with personality disorders often don’t believe
it. You may find out only after you get help for something else, like anxiety or depression, or if someone
suggests you start therapy and you go. Because people with these conditions often manage well enough to get
by -- though they may have a hard time with relationships -- many never get the help they need.
Doctors ask questions to learn if parts of your personality are so strict that they harm your
relationships at home and at work. They also check how well you control your impulses and see if your view
of yourself matches reality. You might have some symptoms without having one of these conditions. Only a professional
can tell if you have a personality disorder.
These conditions can be intense, constant, affect lots of parts of your life, and be hard to
manage. But you can get help. The most common method is talk therapy. You talk with a mental health professional
who helps you see -- and change -- patterns of thinking and behavior that cause you problems. Over time, this
can help you deal with stress and with other people in a healthier way.