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Personality disorders

Andrew Skodol, MD
Section Editor
Murray B Stein, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Personality consists of enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and oneself that are exhibited across numerous social and personal contexts. A personality disorder is diagnosed when personality traits are so inflexible and maladaptive across a wide range of situations that they cause significant distress and impairment of social, occupational, and role functioning. The thinking, displays of emotion, impulsivity, and interpersonal behavior of the individual must deviate markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture in order to qualify as a personality disorder.

Patients with personality disorders can significantly strain the doctor-patient relationship. Clinicians frequently lack training in how to recognize and manage personality disorders.

This topic provides an overview of the personality disorders. Borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder are discussed in detail separately. Challenges to maintaining a therapeutic alliance in patients with personality disorders or traits are also discussed separately. (See "Borderline personality disorder: Epidemiology, clinical features, course, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Treatment of borderline personality disorder" and "Antisocial personality disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, course and diagnosis" and "Treatment of antisocial personality disorder" and "Establishing and maintaining a therapeutic relationship in psychiatric practice".)


DSM-5 includes 10 personality disorders grouped into three clusters based upon descriptive similarities [1]:

Cluster A characteristics – Individuals may appear odd and eccentric

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 18, 2016.
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