Personality Disorders 101

For the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a mini-series on personality disorders, one of the most interesting and controversial areas of abnormal psychology.

Firstly, I’ll talk about the facts on what personality disorders are currently considered to be and how they are diagnosed, then about what they can look like on the outside and feel like on the inside. I’ll also talk about the philosophical/psychological implications of the diagnoses, and about the idea of a “disordered personality”.

The current definition of PDs considers them as traits, experiences and behaviours that are significantly different from the majority of people; that affect cognition, emotions and impulses; and are associated with personal distress and dysfunction.

In the DSM-V, personality disorders (PD’s) are split into three main groups, or “clusters”.

Cluster A disorders are otherwise known as the “eccentric “ or “odd” disorders, and consists of:

Cluster B is the “dramatic” or “emotional” disorders, consisting of:

Cluster C is the “anxious” disorders, consisting of:

The International Classification of Diseases (the main European guide to psychiatry) does things slightly differently. Some disorders have different names – Borderline PD is instead called Emotionally Unstable PD, and Obsessive-Compulsive PD is known as  Anankastic PD.  The ICD also includes an “Other/Unspecified” category for people with unclear symptoms which are still considered to reflect a PD.

So, now that the very basics of PD’s have been explained, I’ll go through them all in turn to try and get a deeper understanding of them. Stay tuned for the rest of the series!

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