Types of Personality Disorders

Dr. Odianosen Oriaifo
3 min readOct 12, 2023

Personality disorders are some of the most widely misunderstood mental conditions. Some people self-diagnose with a personality disorder. Others confuse personality types (e.g., extroversion and introversion) for personality disorders.

People with personality disorders see themselves and the world and react to situations in ways that cause problems. They process emotions differently than people without the disorder. Some act impulsively while others struggle to relate to others, a cycle that impacts their personal and social life.

While anyone can experience a personality disorder, some major predictors and factors predispose an individual to develop a personality disorder. Most personality disorders begin in the teen years as one’s personality takes shape.

Genetic and mental conditions can be hereditary, such as someone inheriting a bad temperament from their parents. Others are environmental. They are acquired from one’s surroundings, such as antisocial disorder due to childhood trauma.

It’s also possible to develop a personality disorder due to changes in the brain. Take paranoia, characterized by a lack of trust and suspicion of others. Scientists have found that paranoid people tend to have a markedly smaller frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for regulating fearful stimuli.

Personality disorders are categorized into three groups. In Group A are personality disorders that cause suspicion, such as paranoia, schizoid personality disorder (coldness toward others), and schizotypal personality disorder (unusual thinking and beliefs).

Then, the personality disorders are characterized by unusual emotional outbursts and impulsiveness. They include antisocial personality disorder (disregarding or violating the needs of others), borderline personality disorder (difficulty with emotional regulation), and narcissistic personality disorder (perceived superiority). Such people are known for their unpredictable, unstable, and overly emotional thinking and behaviors.

Some personality disorders (Group C) cause people to be perpetually anxious. They include avoidant personality disorder, characterized by an inability to bond with others due to fear of rejection. On the other hand, people with dependent personality disorder have an unusually high desire to bond with others and be cared for by someone else. An obsession with orderliness and perfection characterizes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

While diagnostic criteria vary, the general standard for diagnosing a personality disorder is for one to exhibit two symptoms. Even so, having a personality disorder is possible without meeting the full criteria.

Moreover, two people can have different experiences and personalities and still get the same diagnosis. Also, one person can have symptoms of more than one personality disorder. It’s called mixed personality disorder.

Personality disorders are the most difficult to treat psychiatric conditions. This is primarily because people with personality disorders think their behaviors are normal. As such, they don’t seek treatment. Still, other than anxiety drugs and antidepressants, there are no specific personality disorder medications.

But talk therapy, where a psychologist or psychiatrist helps identify and change troubling behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, has proven effective for managing personality disorders. Psychotherapy helps one identify and understand the origin of their problems. This allows patients to recognize that their problems are internal, not caused by others.

Personality disorders impact one’s work, relationships, feelings/emotions, self-identity, impulse control, and awareness of reality. An individual with OCD, for instance, may not get much done at work because they want everything to be perfect before acting. People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to be manipulative, while those with avoidant personality disorder struggle to open up in relationships.

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Dr. Odianosen Oriaifo
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Leading a successful career in the medical field, Dr. Odianosen Oriaifo has been practicing in the United States for the past six years.