Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a distrust of others and a constant suspicion that people around you have sinister motives. People with this disorder tend to have excessive trust in their own knowledge and abilities and usually avoid close relationships. They search for hidden meanings in everything and read hostile intentions into the actions of others. They are quick to challenge the loyalties of friends and loved ones and often appear cold and distant. They usually shift blame to other people and tend to carry long grudges.
Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder:
1. Unwillingness to forgive perceived insults
2. Excessive sensitivity to setbacks
3. Distrustfulness and excessive self-reliance
4. Projection of blame onto others
5. Consumed by anticipation of betrayal
6. Combative and tenacious adherence to personal rights
7. Relentlessly suspicious
Paranoid personality disorder is difficult to treat, as paranoids are often extremely suspicious of medical professionals. A combination of medication and talk therapy can be effective at combating the more debilitating symptoms of this disorder.
People with schizoid personality disorder avoid relationships and do not show much emotion. Unlike avoidants, schizoids genuinely prefer to be alone and do not secretly wish for popularity. They tend to seek jobs that require little social contact. Their social skills are often weak and they do not show a need for attention or acceptance. They are perceived by others as humorless and distant and often are termed "loners."
Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder:
1. Weak interpersonal skills
2. Difficulty expressing anger, even when provoked
3. "Loner" mentality; avoidance of social situations
4. Appear to others as remote, aloof, and unengaged
5. Low sexual desire
6. Unresponsive to praise or criticism
It is important to distinguish schizoid from avoidant. Avoidants will feel anxiety in social situations and have the desire to fit in, while schizoids simply prefer to be alone. It is occassionally difficult to distinguish between schizoid and Asperger's, as well.
This disorder is diagnosed more frequently and is often more severe among males. Schizoids usually do not seek treatment on their own and are often coaxed into it by a loved one.
Many believe that schizotypal personality disorder represents mild schizophrenia. The disorder is characterized by odd forms of thinking and perceiving, and individuals with this disorder often seek isolation from others. They sometimes believe to have extra sensory ability or that unrelated events relate to them in some important way. They generally engage in eccentric behavior and have difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. Their speech is often over elaborate and difficult to follow.
Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
1. Odd or eccentric mannerisms or appearance
2. Superstitious or preoccupied with paranormal phenomena
3. Difficult to follow speech patterns
4. Feelings of anxiety in social situations
5. Suspiciousness and paranoia
6. Odd beliefs or magical thinking
7. Appears shy, aloof, or withdrawn to others
A common misconception is that antisocial personality disorder refers to people who have poor social skills. The opposite is often the case. Instead, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of conscience. People with this disorder are prone to criminal behavior, believing that their victims are weak and deserving of being taken advantage of. Antisocials tend to lie and steal. Often, they are careless with money and take action without thinking about consequences. They are often agressive and are much more concerned with their own needs than the needs of others.
Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder:
1. Disregard for the feelings of others
2. Impulsive and irresponsible decision-making
3. Lack of remorse for harm done to others
4. Lying, stealing, other criminal behaviors
5. Disregard for the safety of self and others
A majority of criminals in prison have some degree of antisocial personality disorder. Treatment is highly difficult, although the symptoms often diminish with age.
Borderline personality disorder is characterized by mood instability and poor self-image. People with this disorder are prone to constant mood swings and bouts of anger. Often, they will take their anger out on themselves, causing injury to their own body. Suicidal threats and actions are not uncommon. Borderlines think in very black and white terms and often form intense, conflict-ridden relationships. They are quick to anger when their expectations are not met.
Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder:
1. Self-injury or attempted suicide
2. Strong feelings of anger, anxiety, or depression that last for several hours
3. Impulsive behavior
4. Drug or alcohol abuse
5. Feelings of low self-worth
6. Unstable relationships with friends, family, and boyfriends/girlfriends
Borderline personality disorder was so-named because it was originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis. The disorder is relatively common, affecting 2% of adults. Women are much more likely to suffer borderline than men. Nearly 20% of psychiatric hospitalizations are due to borderline. With treatment, patients are often able to see their symptoms improve.
Treatment involves therapy in which the patient learns to talk through his or her feelings rather than unleashing them in destructive and self-defeating ways. Medication may be helpful, and treatment of any alcohol or substance abuse issues is required. Brief hospitalization is sometimes required, especially in cases involving psychotic episodes or suicide threats or attempts.
People with histrionic personality disorder are constant attention seekers. They need to be the center of attention all the time, often interrupting others in order to dominate the conversation. They use grandiose language to discribe everyday events and seek constant praise. They may dress provacatively or exaggerate illnesses in order to gain attention. Histrionics also tend to exaggerate friendships and relationships, believing that everyone loves them. They are often manipulative.
Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder:
1. Needs to be the center of attention
2. Dresses or acts provocatively
3. Rapidly-shifting and shallow emotions
4. Exaggerates friendships
5. Overly-dramatic, occassionally theatrical speech
6. easily influenced; highly suggestible
Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by self-centeredness. Like histrionic disorder, people with this disorder seek attention and praise. They exaggerate their achievements, expecting others to recongize them as being superior. They tend to be choosy about picking friends, since they believe that not just anyone is worthy of being their friend. Narcissists tend to make good first impressions, yet have difficulty maintaining long-lasting relationships. They are generally uninterested in the feelings of others and may take advantage of them.
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
1. Requires excessive praise and admiration
2. Takes advantage of others
3. Grandiose sense of self-importance
4. Lack of empathy
5. Lying, to self and others
6. Obsessed with fantasies of fame, power, or beauty
Narcissism is most often found in men and is often diagnosed with other mental disorders.
Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by extreme social anxiety. People with this disorder often feel inadequate, avoid social situations, and seek out jobs with little contact with others. Avoidants are fearful of being rejected and worry about embarassing themselves in front of others. They exaggerate the potential difficulties of new situations to rationalize avoiding them. Often, they will create fantasy worlds to substitute for the real one. Unlike schizoid personality disorder, avoidants yearn for social relations yet feel they are unable to obtain them. They are frequently depressed and have low self-confidence.
Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder:
1. Social inhibition; retreating from others in anticipation of rejection
2. Preoccupation with being rejected or criticized in social situations
3. Fear of embarrassment results in avoidance of new activities
4. Poor self-image; feelings of social ineptitude
5. Desire for improved social relations
6. Appear to others as self-involved and unfriendly
7. Creation of elaborate fantasy lives
Dependent personality disorder is characterized by a need to be taken care of. People with this disorder tend to cling to people and fear losing them. They may become suicidal when a break-up is imminent. They tend to let others make important decisions for them and often jump from relationship to relationship. Dependents often remain in abusive relationships. Over-sensitivity to disapproval is common. Dependents often feel helpless and depressed.
Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder:
1. Difficulty making decisions
2. Feelings of helplessness when alone
3. Suicidal thoughts upon rejection
5. Deeply hurt by mild criticism or disapproval
6. Unable to meet ordinary demands of life
While Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder (OCDP) sounds similar in name to obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder, the two are markedly different disorders. People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are overly focused on orderliness and perfection. Their need to do everything "right" often interferes with their productivity. They tend to get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture. They set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others, and tend to be very critical of others when they do not live up to these high standards. They avoid working in teams, believing others to be too careless or incompetent. They avoid making decisions because they fear making mistakes and are rarely generous with their time or money. They often have difficulty expressing emotion.
Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:
1. Need for perfection and excessive discipline
2. Preoccupation with orderliness
4. Lack of generosity
5. Hyper-focus on details and rules
6. Excessive devotion to work
The potential for improvement with treatment is better for obsessive-compulsive personality disorder than for other personality disorders. A combination of medication and therapy tends to yield positive results.