A personality disorder is a condition where a persons basic personality is so maladaptive, inflexible, or distressing that they cannot be included into their culture's everyday life.

As of the DSM-IV, the personality disorders are grouped into three types:

Cluster A: (odd and eccentric disorders)
Cluster B: (dramatic, emotional, and erratic disorders)
Cluster C (anxious and fearful disorders)

There is also a 'Personality Disorder not otherwise specified' category. This a catch-all category, for anything that seems to be a personality disorder but does not meet the criteria for the disorders listed above.

In America it is usual to use the DSM-IV, but the World Health Organization has put out its own set of psychiatric standards, called the ICD-10 (ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders); this is used in many parts of the world, including most of Europe. The ICD's categories are as follows:

The International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, was endorsed by the May, 1990 World Health Organization assembly. It came into worldwide use in 1994, and is the international standard for the diagnosis of all known diseases, mental and physical. It is comparable to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it offers a clearer, international standard by which to judge personality disorders.

The following information is from the ICD Online, and is fair use. I include it as a reference for all the nodes here that discuss personality disorders.

Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a severe disturbance in the characterological constitution and behavioural tendencies of the individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption.

Personality disorder tends to appear in late childhood or adolescence and continues to be manifest into adulthood. It is therefore unlikely that the diagnosis of personality disorder will be appropriate before the age of 16 or 17 years.

Diagnostic Guidelines:

Conditions not directly attributable to gross brain damage or disease, or to another psychiatric disorder, meeting the following criteria:

  1. markedly dysharmonious attitudes and behaviour, involving usually several areas of functioning, e.g. affectivity, arousal, impulse control, ways of perceiving and thinking, and style of relating to others;
  2. the abnormal behaviour pattern is enduring, of long standing, and not limited to episodes of mental illness;
  3. the abnormal behaviour pattern is pervasive and clearly maladaptive to a broad range of personal and social situations;
  4. the above manifestations always appear during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood;
  5. the disorder leads to considerable personal distress but this may only become apparent late in its course;
  6. the disorder is usually, but not invariably, associated with significant problems in occupational and social performance.

For different cultures it may be necessary to develop specific sets of criteria with regard to social norms, rules and obligations. For diagnosing most of the subtypes listed, clear evidence is usually required of the presence of at least three of the traits or behaviours given in the clinical description.

Subtypes include:

* Paranoid personality disorder
* Schizoid personality disorder
* Dissocial (antisocial) personality disorder
* Emotionally unstable (borderline) personality disorder
* Histrionic personality disorder
* Anankastic (obsessive-compulsive) personality disorder
* Anxious (avoidant) personality disorder
* Dependent personality disorder
* Narcissistic personality disorder

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