March 01, 2023 By Leah Malone

What Are Personality Disorders?


Personality disorders are a broad category of mental health disorders that involve long-term patterns of maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. These types of mental health disorders can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function normally in daily life.

Similar to other types of mental health disorders, personality disorders are known to co-occur alongside substance abuse and substance use disorder (SUD). Leaving personality disorders and/or co-occurring substance abuse untreated can lead to an array of worsening symptoms and effects. Becoming familiar with different types of personality disorders, risk factors, and warning signs can help individuals better recognize when their loved ones could benefit from professional intervention, treatment, and support.

Grace Recovery is a transitional living facility that offers a wide range of services for women seeking recovery, including outpatient addiction treatment programs at our other facility, Emerge Recovery. Through a combination of services, we can help women work through the underlying causes of their trauma, substance abuse, and mental health disorders through the use of comprehensive and compassionate care.

Understanding Personality Disorders

The National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains, per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), that “personality disorders represent “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture. These patterns tend to be fixed and consistent across situations and lead to distress or impairment.”

The NIMH also highlights borderline personality disorder (BPD) when defining personality disorders. They define BPD as “a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning.” Individuals with BPD often experience intense, chaotic, and unstable relationships as a result of their unstable selves.

The DSM-5 categorizes personality disorders into three different clusters: clusters A, B, and C. Each of the personality disorders within each cluster has unique qualities and presents itself in its own way.

Personality Disorders: Cluster A

Cluster A personality disorders are categorized as eccentric. Individuals with these disorders may present themselves as suspicious, reclusive, and odd.


Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is marked by patterns of distrust and suspicion of others. While patterns of distrust can be normal at times, individuals with PPD experience abnormal patterns of distrust. For example, they may appear constantly on guard and fearful that others are planning to harm or threaten them.


Individuals with schizoid personality disorder experience abnormal inclusiveness. They tend to avoid social activities and isolate themselves in an attempt to avoid interacting with others. Although this condition is uncommon, its patterns of detachment and disinterest can be dangerous for those who struggle with it.


Schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) is marked by intense discomfort with interpersonal relationships and social interactions. Individuals with STPD may experience overlapping schizophrenia, such as bizarre beliefs, behaviors, and hallucinations.

Personality Disorders: Cluster B

Cluster B personality disorders are categorized as dramatic. Individuals with these disorders may violate social norms and fall victim to impulse.


Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by recklessness, aggression, and failure to conform to legal and/or social norms. Individuals with this disorder may be considered pathological liars and tend to be manipulative toward their loved ones. It is common for individuals with antisocial personality disorder to have a history of abnormal childhood behavior and experience conduct disorder as a result.


BPD, as mentioned earlier, fits into cluster B personality disorders. Individuals with BPD tend to experience severe fear of abandonment, identity disturbances, and chronic suicide ideation. Unfortunately, more than 75% of individuals with BPD engage in self-harm.


Histrionic personality disorder developed from the term “hysteria,” meaning uncontrollable emotion or excitement. Individuals with this personality disorder are attention-seeking and often attempt to be the center of attention. They may be overly concerned with their physical appearance and exhibit sexually promiscuous behavior.


Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder display a significant sense of entitlement. They may lack empathy and exaggerate personal accomplishments. These characteristics can make it extremely difficult for individuals to develop and navigate interpersonal relationships.

Personality Disorders: Cluster C

Cluster C personality disorders are categorized by profound anxiety and fear. Individuals with these disorders experience abnormal fears that interfere with their social relationships.


Individuals with avoidant personality disorder experience low self-esteem as well as heightened sensitivity to criticism, which can complicate relationships. They may feel inadequate within their relationships due to fear of judgment. As a result, those with this condition often avoid social interactions.


Individuals with dependent personality disorder (DPD) experience extreme co-dependence on others for their well-being. They may depend on their friends, parents, or romantic partners for emotional validation, to make decisions, and to care for themselves.


Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are often characterized as perfectionists. These individuals need everything in order, which can present as cognitive inflexibility as well as heightened conscientiousness.

Treatment for Personality Disorders

Although personality disorders can be challenging to manage, recovery is possible. The most common forms of treatment include psychotherapy as well as medication. For individuals experiencing co-occurring SUD, it is crucial to participate in dual-diagnosis treatment to tend to both disorders simultaneously.

Group therapy can be another valuable intervention for individuals seeking recovery from personality disorders. Individuals can benefit from themes of empathy and validation commonly experienced through social support in group therapy. In sessions, individuals can discuss their own experiences and learn interpersonal and coping skills through large group discussions.

Personality disorders are challenging mental health diagnoses marked by unhealthy patterns of thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. They are categorized into three different clusters: A, B, and C. Despite the challenges that may arise throughout treatment, recovery from personality disorders is possible. Grace Recovery offers transitional living homes for women in recovery. We offer a variety of treatment programs and services for women facing trauma, substance abuse, and other mental health disorders. Our staff is committed to providing intimate, individualized care as well as guidance, support, enhanced skill-building, and connections necessary to build a meaningful and prosperous life. We believe that having access to a stable and substance-free environment is instrumental for recovery. To learn more, call (737) 237-9663

About Author

Leah Malone

Learning to sit with uncomfortable feelings can be painful and disturbing at times. When Leah was able to see her behavior patterns and decided there was enough pain to be disturbed, she became motivated to make changes and accept the work that needed to be done to heal. She needed direction and had no clue how to heal on her own. Through a connection with God, authentic connection with others, honesty, willingness, and humility, Leah is now in recovery from addiction and trauma.

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