Personality Disorders

“As an undergraduate student in psychology, I was taught that multiple personalities were a very rare and bizarre disorder. That is all that I was taught on ... It soon became apparent that what I had been taught was simply not true. Not only was I meeting people with multiplicity; these individuals entering my life were normal human beings with much to offer. They were simply people who had endured more than their share of pain in this life and were struggling to make sense of it.”

― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook

DID Research

Personality Disorders


Personality disorders are disorders that are defined as "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment" (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).1


Personality disorders include:

  • Cluster A (Odd-Eccentric) Disorders
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  • Cluster B (Dramatic-Emotional) Disorders
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • Cluster C (Anxious-Fearful) Disorders
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder
  • Dependent Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • Personality Change Due to Another Medical Condition
  • Other Specified Personality Disorder
  • Unspecified Personality Disorder


Paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, personality change due to another medical condition, other specified personality disorder, and unspecified personality disorder are not addressed within a unique page. However, paranoid personality disorder is characterized by distrust, suspiciousness, and interpreting others' motives as malevolent. Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by social detachment and flat affect. Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by discomfort in close relationships, distorted thinking and perceptions, and eccentric behaviors. Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by being excessively emotional and attention seeking. Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by extreme social anxiety and inhibition and fear of being negatively judged. Dependent personality disorder is characterized by submissive and clinging behavior that is motivated by a need to be taken care of. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by dysfunctional perfectionism and a need for order and control. Personality change due to another medical condition describes a persistent personality disturbance that is due to a medical condition such as a frontal lobe lesion. Finally, other specified personality disorder and unspecified personality disorder serve as categories meant to catch presentations that do not fit one of the above categories, fit a personality disorder not included in the DSM-5 (such as passive-aggressive personality disorder), or cannot be adequately diagnosed (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).1


Personality disorders are very often comorbid within each cluster. They affect cognition, affectivity, interpersonal functioning, and/or impulse control, and their affects are not due to substance use or to another medical condition or mental disorder. Personality disorders may be evident in childhood or adolescence, but they are only rarely diagnosed in individuals under 18 and must have persisted for at least a year before diagnosis (save for antisocial personality disorder which cannot be diagnosed at all in those under 18). Care should be taken to ensure that symptoms in immigrants are not due to the culture of their country of origin. Some personality disorders (such as antisocial personality disorder) are more commonly diagnosed in males while others (borderline, histrionic, and dependent personality disorders) are more commonly diagnosed in females (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)1; some attribute the differences of diagnosis between genders in cluster B disorders to be due to different presentations of the same core symptoms according to gendered social norms.



1 American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Personality Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).