We’ve all heard someone call someone else paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic or obsessive-compulsive.

These are ways of speaking, so we do not have to give them more importance, but we must be aware that these “adjectives” are personality disorders that cause enormous discomfort to the people affected and their immediate environment.

So I think it’s interesting to know a little more about these disorders and maybe, it helps us to rethink our vocabulary and how our words, sometimes, can go beyond.

Mental disorders in general and personality disorders in particular affect a large number of people, so it is interesting to know a little more about them because this will help us ourselves and also, as a society.

Recommended article: “The 10 Types of Personality Disorders”

Characteristics of personality disorders

There are different personality disorders, but all of them maintain general diagnostic criteria .

The person’s behaviour will clearly deviate from what their culture considers to be correct or from the expectations of the culture. This should be reflected in at least two of the following areas:

  • Cognition : the way to perceive and interpret.
  • Affectivity : emotional response.
  • Interpersonal activity : relationship with other people.
  • Impulse control .

This behavior or conduct must be persistent, inflexible and affect a wide range of personal and social situations. It also causes clinically significant distress or significant impairment in areas such as social relationships or the work environment.

This type of maladaptive behaviour usually begins in adolescence or adulthood and remains stable .

Finally, it is important for us to know that there are some personality disorders that are due to the ingestion of substances such as medicines or drugs, or that can occur as a result of a medical illness. Therefore, we must know if this persistent pattern of behavior is not due to any of these factors.

Basic classification of personality disorders

Once these general criteria have been defined, we will look at some of the personality disorders so that we can distinguish them. We will divide them into 3 groups according to the similarity of their characteristics.

It should be remembered that the characteristics we will see below do not necessarily define the disorder unless the criteria defined above are also met.

Rare or eccentric

This group of disorders is characterized by a clearly abnormal pattern both in relation to cognition and in expression and relationship to others.

  • Paranoid : they show excessive distrust and suspicion, interpreting the intentions of others as malicious. They suspect that they will be taken advantage of, hurt, or cheated. They also present unjustified doubts regarding loyalty or fidelity and a reluctance to trust others.
  • Schizoid: distancing from social relationships and difficulty in emotional expression. They do not enjoy social relationships, do not have friends or people they trust, and show themselves to be cold and distant.
  • Schizotypal : social and interpersonal deficit associated with acute discomfort and poor capacity for personal relations. Cognitive or perceptive distortions and eccentricities in their behaviour. They have strange beliefs or a tendency to magical thinking that influences their behaviour. They often have unusual perceptual experiences, thoughts, language, and appearance; are suspicious, have emotional difficulties, lack close friends, or social anxiety.

Dramatic, emotional or unstable

The following disorders are characterized by a pattern of violation of social norms, impulsive behaviors, excessive emotionality and grandiosity .

  • Antisocial : contempt for and violation of the rights of others. They do not adapt to the social norms concerning legal behaviour, are dishonest and lie on a regular basis. They present impulsiveness, irritability and aggressiveness, as well as a lack of remorse, persistent irresponsibility and inability to take care of their obligations.
  • Limit: they are characterized by instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and effectiveness. Impulsivity. They present identity alteration, impulsivity and unstable and intense relationships. They also show recurrent suicidal behaviors, attempts or threats, or self-mutilation behaviors, as well as chronic feelings of emptiness and inappropriate and intense anger.
  • Histrionic: they present a theatrical style of behavior, excessive emotionality and attention-seeking. They want to be the center of attention and show seductive or provocative behavior, superficial and changing emotional expression. They call attention to themselves using their physicality, self-dramatization, theatricality or exaggeration. They are easily influenced and consider their relationships more intimate than they really are.
  • Narcissist : they present the need for admiration and a general pattern of grandiosity, as well as a lack of empathy. They think they are very important, they are concerned with unlimited success, power, beauty. They demand excessive admiration and take advantage of others. They show no empathy but often envy others, and are arrogant or proud.

Anxious or fearful

Disorders in this group are characterized by abnormal fears. Their types are as follows.

  • Avoidance : show social inhibition and feelings of inferiority. They avoid contact with other people for fear of criticism or rejection. Also fear of being embarrassed or criticized. They see themselves as socially inept, uninteresting or inferior to others.
  • Dependent : they present the need to be taken care of, as well as a tendency to submission and fear of separation. They have difficulties in making daily decisions, need others to take responsibility, have difficulty in expressing their disagreement for fear of disapproval. They also show exaggerated fears of being unable to care for themselves.
  • Obsessive-compulsive : are characterized by the concern for order, perfectionism and control. They worry about details, rules, lists, order, schedules… they usually have an excessive dedication to work. They show intense stubbornness, scrupulosity and inflexibility in matters related to morals, ethics or values. They also have difficulty getting rid of material objects. They are reluctant to delegate tasks to others and are often stingy with expenses for themselves and others.