Personality Disorders

Whether you're sociable, reserved, funny or forthright, everyone who knows you would likely list the same traits when describing your personality. These characteristics are the combined product of your heredity and early life experience, and they are fixed by the time you reach adulthood.

People with personality disorders have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, which often limit their ability to function in relationships and at work. Depending on the disorder, their personalities are generally described in more-negative terms: dramatic, clingy, antisocial or obsessive.

Among the 10 conditions that are considered personality disorders, some have very little in common. Doctors typically group the personality disorders that have shared characteristics into one of three clusters:

  • Cluster A includes personality disorders marked by odd, eccentric behavior, including paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders.
  • Cluster B personality disorders are those defined by dramatic, emotional behavior, including histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial and borderline personality disorders.
  • Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful behavior and include obsessive-compulsive, avoidant and dependent personality disorders.

There's no cure for these conditions, but therapy and medication can help. The symptoms of some personality disorders also may improve with age.