Personality disorder: A disorder characterized by the chronic use of mechanisms of coping in an inappropriate, stereotyped, and maladaptive manner. Personality disorders are enduring and persistent styles of behavior and thought, not atypical episodes. The personality disorders encompass a group of behavioral disorders that are different and distinct from the psychotic and neurotic disorders. The official psychiatric manual, the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition), defines a personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that differs markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment. Personality disorders are a long-standing and maladaptive pattern of perceiving and responding to other people and to stressful circumstances.
Ten personality disorders, grouped into 3 clusters, are defined in the DSM-IV:
- Cluster A -- Odd or eccentric behavior.
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Cluster B -- Dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior.
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Cluster C -- Anxious fearful behavior.
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
See also: Multiple personality disorder; Passive-aggressive personality disorder; and Schizotypal personality disorder.