Everyone has a personality with character traits such as stinginess, generosity, arrogance and independence. But when these traits are rigid and self-defeating, they may interfere with functioning and even lead to psychiatric symptoms. Personality traits are formed by early adulthood, persist throughout life and affect every aspect of day to day behavior. Individuals with personality disorders often blame others for their problems.
Although professionals identify distinct personality disorders (anti-social, borderline, schizotypal, et al), some personality disordered individuals may not fit in a particular category and yet may clearly deserve this label.
Although classified as mental disorders they may be classified separately and distinguished from the Axis I Clinical Syndromes for some purposes.
A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. This pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas:
(1) cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people, and events)
(2) affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, lability, and appropriateness of emotional response)
(3) interpersonal functioning
(4) impulse control
B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.
C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The pattern is stable and of long duration and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.
E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.
F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma).
Reprinted with permission from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Copyright 2000 American Psychiatric Association