Understanding Personality Disorders: 6 Types to Know About

Some personality traits may interfere with your daily life.

Loading the player...

Everyone has unique personality traits; some of those traits help them along while others can get them in occasional hot water. For those with a personality disorder, however, a personality trait is so severe that it impairs the person’s ability to fulfill everyday tasks and form healthy relationships.

There are many different kinds of personality disorders, but here are some of the most common.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder earned its name because patients tend to act on the border between neurotic and psychotic. The trademark signs of borderline personality disorder are intense emotions that are difficult to regulate or understand, an overwhelming fear of abandonment that leads them to go to extreme lengths to avoid losing someone, impulsivity, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As the name suggests, narcissistic personality disorder involves a focus on oneself and a lack of empathy for others. Signs of narcissistic personality disorder include an exaggerated sense of self, needing attention or validation, seeking power over others, and having superficial interpersonal relationships.

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder. People with this disorder have severe anxiety and fear of rejection, which causes them to isolate themselves and avoid forming relationships with others.

  • Dependent Personality Disorder. This disorder has a similar fear of separation that can lead to needy behavior or an excessive dependence on others for basic needs and decisions.

  • Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders. These disorders cause paranoia, which may cause isolation or withdrawal. To others, their behavior may seem odd, detached, or aloof.

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder. People with this disorder tend to not follow rules or don’t think they apply to them; they tend to run into trouble with the law.

Psychotherapy is the most effective treatment option for most personality disorders. If needed, medication may also help treat certain specific symptoms. (Learn about the three most common types of psychotherapy here.)

Because these disorders stem from one’s personality, it can be challenging for some people to recognize or acknowledge the way their personality is interfering with their lives and relationships. Treatment is most effective for those who recognize this and are motivated to make changes.