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Personality Disorders

on Wed Aug 23, 2017 10:53 am
Personality disorders

Explains personality disorders, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

What different types of personality disorders are there?

Psychiatrists tend to use a system of diagnosis which identifies 10 types of personality disorder:

Paranoid personality disorder
Schizoid personality disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Histrionic personality disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder
Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder
Dependent personality disorder
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCDP)


The types are grouped into three categories:

-Suspicious – paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal and antisocial.
-Emotional and impulsive – borderline, histrionic and narcissistic.
-Anxious – avoidant, dependent and obsessive compulsive.

For each type, a diagnosis will not be made if you have only one or two of the characteristics.

You may find that you meet the criteria for several different types of personality disorder. It can also be the case that a wide range of people meet the criteria for the same disorder, despite having very different personalities and different individual experiences.

Paranoid personality disorder

You may:

find it hard to confide in people, even your friends
find it very difficult to trust other people, believing they will use you or take advantage of you
watch others closely, looking for signs of betrayal or hostility
read threats and danger – which others don’t see – into everyday situations.

Schizoid personality disorder

You may:

be uninterested in forming close relationships with other people, including your family
feel that relationships interfere with your freedom and tend to cause problems
prefer to be alone with your own thoughts
choose to live your life without interference from others
get little pleasure from life
have little interest in sex or intimacy
be emotionally cold towards others.

Schizotypal personality disorder

You may:

find making close relationships extremely difficult
think and express yourself in ways that others find ‘odd’, using unusual words or phrases
behave in ways that others find eccentric
believe that you can read minds or that you have special powers such as a ‘sixth sense’
feel anxious and tense with others who do not share these beliefs
feel very anxious and paranoid in social situations.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)

You will be at least 18 years old. You may:

put yourself in dangerous or risky situations, often without considering the consequences for yourself or for other people
behave dangerously and sometimes illegally
behave in ways that are unpleasant for others
feel very easily bored and act on impulse – you may find it difficult to hold down a job for long
behave aggressively and get into fights easily
do things – even though they may hurt people – to get what you want, putting your needs above theirs
have a criminal record
feel no sense of guilt if you have mistreated others
believe that only the strongest survive and that you must do whatever it takes to lead a successful life because if you don’t grab opportunities, others will
have had a diagnosis of conduct disorder before the age of 15.
This diagnosis includes ‘psychopathy’. This term is no longer used in the Mental Health Act but a ‘psychopathy checklist’ questionnaire may be used in your assessment.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

You may:

feel very worried about people abandoning you, and would do anything to stop that happening
have very intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly (for example, from feeling very happy and confident in the morning to feeling low and sad in the afternoon)
not have a strong sense of who you are, and it can change depending on who you're with
find it very hard to make and keep stable relationships
act impulsively and do things that could harm you (such as binge eating, using drugs or driving dangerously)
have suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviour
feel empty and lonely a lot of the time
get very angry, and struggle to control your anger.
When very stressed, sometimes you might: feel paranoid
have psychotic experiences, such as seeing or hearing things that other people don't
feel numb or 'checked out' and not remember things properly after they've happened.

Histrionic personality disorder

You may:

feel very uncomfortable if you are not the centre of attention
feel much more at ease as the ‘life and soul of the party’
feel that you have to entertain people
flirt or behave provocatively to ensure that you remain the centre of attention
get a reputation for being dramatic and overemotional
feel dependent on the approval of others
be easily influenced by others.

Narcissistic personality disorder

You may:

believe that there are special reasons that make you different, better or more deserving than others
have fragile self-esteem, so that you rely on others to recognise your worth and your needs
feel upset if others ignore you and don’t give you what you feel you deserve
resent other people’s successes
put your own needs above other people’s, and demand they do too
be seen as selfish and ‘above yourself’
take advantage of other people.

Avoidant (or anxious) personality disorder

You may:

avoid work or social activities that mean you must be with others
expect disapproval and criticism and be very sensitive to it
worry constantly about being ‘found out’ and rejected
worry about being ridiculed or shamed by others
avoid relationships, friendships and intimacy because you fear rejection
feel lonely and isolated, and inferior to others
be reluctant to try new activities in case you embarrass yourself.

Dependent personality disorder

You may:

feel needy, weak and unable to make decisions or function properly without help or support
allow others to assume responsibility for many areas of your life
agree to things you feel are wrong or you dislike to avoid being alone or losing someone's support
be afraid of being left to fend for yourself
have low self-confidence
see other people as being much more capable than you are
be seen by others as much too submissive and passive.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)

You may:

need to keep everything in order and under control
set unrealistically high standards for yourself and others
think yours is the best way of making things happen
worry when you or others might make mistakes
expect catastrophes if things aren’t perfect
be reluctant to spend money on yourself or others
have a tendency to hang onto items with no obvious value.

OCPD is separate from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which describes a form of behaviour rather than a type of personality.
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