PERSONALITY DISORDERS: The Reasons Why You Behave The Way You Do


Every individual has a unique personality.

Personality is a set of characteristics within a person that influences their beliefs, cognitions, social attitude, emotions and behaviors. It is the way of thinking, reacting, feeling and behaving that makes a person different from other people. It impacts how we view ourselves and what we believe about others and our perspective about the world around us.

Personality Disorder

A personality disorder is a type of mental health condition characterized by an extreme, inflexible and unhealthy lifelong pattern of thoughts, emotions, functioning and behavior that deviates from the expectations of the culture. It leads to distress, significant problems, and limitations in relationships, social activities and work or school settings. It tends to emerge from adolescence or early adulthood and lasts over time.


Tentypes of personality disorders have been identified and are grouped into three clusters, based on similar characteristics and symptoms.

Cluster A personality disorders

They are characterized by unusual, eccentric behaviors. They include:

1. Paranoid Personality Disorder:

⁃ Recurrent distrust and suspicion of others and their motives

⁃ Interpretation of the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning

⁃ Aggressive outbursts to perceived insults

⁃ Overthinking and jumping into conclusions

⁃ Tendency to hold grudges

⁃ Excessive seriousness

⁃ Perception of benign remarks as personal attacks

⁃ Jealous, guarded and secretive

⁃ Argumentative

⁃ Unjustified perception of others as unfaithful, disloyal and deceitful.

2. Schizoid Personality Disorder:

⁃ Inability to take pleasure in most activities

⁃ Lack of motivation

⁃ Little or no interest in sexual activity

⁃ Detachment from social or personal relationships, preferring to be alone

⁃ Emotionally cold

⁃ More of a daydreamer than a practical action taker

⁃ Limited range of emotional expression

⁃ Lack of interest in praise or criticism

3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder:

⁃ Extreme social anxiety

⁃ Discomfort in close relationships

⁃ Flat emotions

⁃ Odd manner of speaking or dressing

⁃ Inappropriate or bizarre facial expressions

⁃ Magical thinking and strange, outlandish beliefs

Cluster B personality disorders

They are characterized by dramatic, emotional behaviors. They include:

1. Antisocial Personality Disorder:

⁃ Aggressiveness

⁃ Inability to conform to social norms

⁃ Persistent lying, stealing and conning others

⁃ Impulsive behavior

⁃ Lack of remorse

⁃ Substance abuse to relieve irritability or boredom

⁃ Disregard for safety of others or self

⁃ Recurring problems with the law

⁃ Lack for respect for other people

⁃ Irresponsibility and callousness

2. Borderline Personality Disorder:

⁃ Lack of solid sense of identity

⁃ Instability in personal relationships

⁃ Poor anger management

⁃ Unstable paranoia

⁃ Repeated suicidal gestures such as cutting

⁃ Abrupt and extreme mood swings

⁃ Ongoing feeling of emptiness

3. Histrionic Personality Disorder:

⁃ Excessive attention seeking

⁃ Self-centeredness

⁃ Easily influenced by others

⁃ Rapid change of emotions

⁃ Excessive concern with physical appearance

⁃ Provocative and flirtatious

⁃ Insincerity

⁃ Excessively emotional and dramatic

4. Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

⁃ Arrogance

⁃ Attention-seeking

⁃ A grandiose sense of self-importance

⁃ Expectance of constant admiration and praise

⁃ Exaggeration of achievements and talents

⁃ Oversensitive to failure

⁃ Lack of empathy

⁃ Envy

⁃ Exploitation of interpersonal relationships

⁃ Unreasonable expectations of favors and advantages

Cluster C personality disorders

They are characterized by anxious, fearful behaviors. They include:

1. Avoidant Personality Disorder:

⁃ Feeling of inadequacy

– Feeling inferior, no close relationship outside family circle

⁃ Hypersensitive to rejection

⁃ Fear of criticism and disapproval

⁃ Extreme shyness

⁃ Low self esteem

2. Dependent Personality Disorder:

⁃ Excessive dependence on others

⁃ Strong fear of rejection

⁃ Submissive and clingy

⁃ Feeling the need to be taken care of and looked after by others

⁃ Deep fear of separation and abandonment

⁃ Inability to make decisions without reassurance from others

⁃ Lack of self care and self confidence

⁃ Difficulty disagreeing with others

⁃ Vulnerable to manipulation

⁃ Urgent need to start a relationship when one ends

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder:

⁃ Extreme perfectionism

⁃ Inability to discard broken or worthless objects

⁃ Rigidity and stubbornness

⁃ Frugal with money

⁃ High level of aspiration

⁃ Paying attention to detail

⁃ Neglecting leisure time and family/friends

⁃ Inflexible with rules, ethics and morality

(Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is not to be mistaken for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a type of anxiety disorder).


Although the exact cause of personality disorders is unknown, certain factors seem to increase the risk of triggering personality disorders. They include:

⁃ Genetic makeup

⁃ Environmental factors

⁃ Socioeconomic status

⁃ Emotional, physical or sexual abuse

⁃ Bullying

⁃ Chaotic family life during childhood

⁃ Loss of parents or a traumatic divorce

⁃ Other traumas


⁃ Frequent mood swings

⁃ Alcohol or substance abuse

⁃ Stormy personal relationships

⁃ Difficulty making friends

⁃ Anger


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is the main way to treat personality disorders. However, several psychiatric medications such as mood stay, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications and anti-anxiety medications may help with various personality disorder symptoms.


Personality disorders can range from being mild and manageable to having a severe and long term impact on an individual.

Unlike people with anxiety disorders who are aware of their mental health condition, people with personality disorders are not aware they have a problem as it may be difficult to recognize and distinguish between them, and as a result do not seek treatment on their own.

This can help to know when to seek for help:

⁃ If people think your behavior is unusual

⁃ You don’t trust other people

⁃ You have problems getting along with others

⁃ You have problems at work or school

Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can arise from living with a personality disorder, for this reason it is crucial to seek help early.

12 thoughts on “PERSONALITY DISORDERS: The Reasons Why You Behave The Way You Do

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  1. This takes me back to my college Abnormal Psych class. (Yeah, that’s what they called it back then.) It was a subject I found fascinating and considered as a career path. Much has changed since then about the way we characterize and categorize personality disorders. What hasn’t changed is the the unfortunate prevalence of these disorders among the general population. And I don’t think that the public perception of personality disorders has changed much either. Instead of simply treating them as we would impaired vision or a heart murmur, we tend to stigmatize them which drives them underground where self-treatment exacerbates the problems.

    Liked by 4 people

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