Personality Disorders: Types, Sign and Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


When personality traits become abnormal, that is become inflexible and maladaptive and cause significant social or occupational impairment or subject distress causes Personality Disorders.  It is one in which there is the deeply ingrained maladaptive pattern of behavior recognized by the time of adolescence or earlier and continuing through most of adult life.

Characteristics of personality disorder

  • It is not a mental illness (means not episodic in nature like other mental illnesses)
  • It is a maladaptive behavior
  • The possession of abnormality traits.
  • It is long lasting, most of the time lifelong problem
  • Causes significant impairment in social and occupational functioning
  • Produces distress to the individual and others

Types of personality disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Paranoid personality disorder
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Hysteric personality disorder
  • Psychopaths/ antisocial personality disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The characteristic of this disorder is persistent and uncontrollable thoughts and irrational beliefs that cause an individual to perform compulsive rituals that interfere with his/her daily life. Patients have recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts or images (obsessions) or repetitive, stereotyped, seemingly purposeless behavior (compulsions)


Obsessive- Repeated thought, ideas

Compulsive- Repeated acts, behavior


Characteristics of OCPD

  • Excessive concern with order, rules, schedules, lists
  • Feeling of excessive doubt
  • Perfectionism that interferes with task completion
  • Inability to throughout even broken objects, worthless objects
  • Discomfort with emotion and personal relationships they cannot control
  • Rigidity and stubbornness

Paranoid personality disorder

This disorder is marked by a distrust of other people and a constant unwarranted suspicion that others have sinister motives. Persons with paranoid personality disorder search for hidden meaning and hostile intentions in everything other say or do.


Sign and symptoms are

Oversensitive, suspicious, mistrustful, argumentative and stubborn (inflexible) self-impulsive ideas, self-important, hypersensitive, jealous and irritable.

Schizoid Personality disorder

It is characterized by detachment and social withdrawn. People with this disorder are commonly described as loners, with solitary interests and no close friends; typically they maintain a social distance even from family members and seem unconcerned about other’s praise or criticism.

Sign and symptoms

Emotional coldness, introspective, reserve, little interest in having sexual experiences with others, lack of close relationship, want to be alone etc.

Histrionic personality disorder

It is characterized by pervasive and excessive self-dramatization, excessively emotional and attention seeking


Sign and symptoms

Dramatic, suggestible, attention seeker, excessive extroverted and excitable emotional experiences. Excessive concern with your physical appearance, a false sense of intimacy with others, constant sudden emotional shifts and inappropriate displays of emotional reactions.

Antisocial/ psychopaths personality disorder

It is a pattern of socially irresponsible, exploitative and guiltiness behavior that reflects a disregard for the rights of others, abide by social rules. Individual must at least 18 years old.

Sign and symptoms

  • Failure to conform the social norms which respect to lawful behavior as indicated by repeatedly acts that are grounds for arrest
  • Deceitfulness, repeated lying, cunning others for personal profit or pleasure
  • Impulsive or failure to plan ahead
  • Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • Irritability or aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • Consistent irresponsibility, failure to sustain consistent work behavior and financial obligations
  • Low intolerance for frustration, unable to delay gratification of needs, stolen things etc.

Etiology or predisposing factors of personality disorders

  • Hereditary factors: chromosomal abnormality or genetic predisposition
  • Psychodynamically this disorder is believed to result from the fixation of rigid discipline etc.
  • Presence of impulsive and inconsistent parents
  • There are too intense dependence on others
  • Disharmonious attitudes and behaviors during child-parent relationships, strict discipline etc.
  • Environmental or social factors
  • Neighborhood, school and peer group
  • Influence of home
  • Community and social rules
  • TV, Cinema, radio, and media
  • Biological hormonal and endocrine disorders. Blood glucose levels, drugs, alcohol, diet etc
  • Mental and psychological factors
  • Sexual abuse is common risk factors for borderline personality disorder
  • Family history of schizophrenia
  • Family history of any personality disorders
  • An unstable family life

Diagnosis of personality disorders

  • History taking
  • MSE
  • Personality test

Treatment and management

A personality disorder is often difficult to treat.

  • Associated mental illness like depression or psychosis can be treated with drugs.
  • Individual and group psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic community and behavior therapy
  • Manipulation of social environment
  • There is tendency to improve naturally with age and maturity



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