Personality disorders are pervasive chronic psychological disorders, which can greatly affect a person's life. Having a personality disorder can negatively affect one's work, one's family, and one's social life. Personality disorders exists on a continuum so they can be mild to more severe in terms of how pervasive and to what extent a person exhibits the features of a particular personality disorder. While most people can live pretty normal lives with mild personality disorders (or more simply, personality traits), during times of increased stress or external pressures (work, family, a new relationship, etc.), the symptoms of the personality disorder will gain strength and begin to seriously interfere with their emotional and psychological functioning.
Those with a personality disorder possess several distinct psychological features including disturbances in self-image; ability to have successful interpersonal relationships; appropriateness of range of emotion, ways of perceiving themselves, others, and the world; and difficulty possessing proper impulse control. These disturbances come together to create a pervasive pattern of behavior and inner experience that is quite different from the norms of the individual's culture and that often tend to be expressed in behaviors that appear more dramatic than what society considers usual. Therefore, those with a personality disorder often experience conflicts with other people and vice-versa. There are ten different types of personality disorders that exist, which all have various emphases.
There are as many potential causes of personality disorders as there are people who suffer from them. They may be caused by a combination of parental upbringing, one's personality and social development, as well as genetic and biological factors. Research has not narrowed down the cause to any factor at this time. We do know, however, that these disorders will most often manifest themselves during increased times of stress and interpersonal difficulties in one's life. Therefore, treatment most often focuses on increasing one's coping mechanisms and interpersonal skills.
We have developed the information here to act as a comprehensive guide to help you better understand the various personality disorders and find out more information about them on your own. Choose from among the categories at left to begin your journey into recovery from these treatable disorders.