Personality Disorders

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders form a class of mental disorders that are defined by long-lasting, rigid patterns of thought and behavior. Because of the inflexibility and pervasiveness of these patterns, they typically cause serious problems and issues in a person's life from time to time. According to the American Psychiatric Association, personality disorders have clusters of characteristics that share common themes or elements. While most people recognize traits of themselves in many different personality disorders, a person who qualifies for a personality disorder diagnosis will exhibit most such traits of a disorder, and these traits cause significant issues in the person's life.

Personality disorders are seen by professionals and researchers as an enduring pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that significantly deviate from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it. These patterns are inflexible and occur across many situations. The onset of the pattern can be traced back at least to the beginning of adulthood. To be diagnosed as a personality disorder, a behavioral pattern must cause significant distress or impairment in personal, social, and/or occupational situations.

These disorders typically aren't diagnosed until an individual is a young adult, often not until their 20s or even 30s. Most individuals with personality diorders lead pretty normal lives and often only seek psychotherapeutic treatment during times of increased stress or social demands. As previously mentioned, most people can relate to some or all of the personality traits listed The important difference is that it does not affect most people's daily functioning to the same degree it might someone diagnosed with one of these disorders. Personality disorders tend to be an intergral part of a person, and therefore, are difficult to treat or "cure."

If you're interested in personality and want to learn more about normal personality traits and characteristics, please take the Psych Central Personality Test. (It is not for determining whether you would qualify for any of the below diagnoses.)

Symptoms and Treatments of Personality Disorders

Personality Tests & Quizzes

Want to learn more about your personality or whether you have a specific personality disorder? Explore your personality by taking one of our free, scientific personality tests below.

Take the Psych Central Personality Test
Jungian 16-Type Personality Test
Short Personality Test
Narcissistic Personality Inventory
Borderline Personality Test

Sociopathy & Psychopathy

More Personality Disorder Resources



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: Fifth edition. New York.
Fox, D. (2014). The Clinician’s Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorders. New York.
Sperry, L. (2016). Handbook of Diagnosis and Treatment of DSM-5 Personality Disorders: Assessment, Case Conceptualization, and Treatment, Third Edition. New York.








Last updated: 9 Jan 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jan 2018
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