What defines a “personality disorder”?


What defines a “personality disorder”?

In: 8

As per Mayo Clinic which gives a very nice overview for the layman,

“A personality disorder is a mental health condition where people have a lifelong pattern of seeing themselves and reacting to others in ways that cause problems. People with personality disorders often have a hard time understanding emotions and tolerating distress. And they act impulsively. This makes it hard for them to relate to others, causing serious issues, and affecting their family life, social activities, work and school performance, and overall quality of life.”


👋 Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder here

The official method for diagnosis is to follow the guidelines stated in the DSM – a large diagnostic manual for diagnosing psychiatric disorders. A psychiatrist is responsible for identifying the symptoms you express and whether it fits the definition of a disorder.

>Personality disorders in general are pervasive, enduring patterns of thinking, perceiving, reacting, and relating that cause significant distress or functional impairment.

Because personality disorders affect how an individual thinks & feels, how they behave and their lifestyle choices, a trained professional can look at all this and clearly see a pattern of a disorder.

As an outsider looking in, you don’t have the same depth of information that the psychiatrist did, so someone like myself could appear completely normal to you – even with my “Emotionally Unstable” label.

The key difference between a personality disorder and most other kinds of mental health problems is that generally the person with a personality disorder doesn’t know that anything is wrong. What they believe is so deeply ingrained that they think their warped perspective on the world is correct. A person with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) usually knows that their rituals and fears aren’t rational, but a person with obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) genuinely believes that their strive for perfection is justified and correct, and *other people* are wrong for not recognizing how right they are. It’s why personality disorders are so difficult to correct—the person suffering them isn’t self-aware enough to recognize that there’s a problem, so they’re disinclined to seek help, and unlikely to accept it if it’s pushed on them.

I’ve spent most of the last decade in therapy for depression, anxiety, and OCD; found out recently that I actually was diagnosed with OC*PD* all those years ago, but I no longer fit the criteria because I’m too self-aware. 😛 Like the person with EUPD who also posted, you wouldn’t have necessarily known something was psychologically wrong with me if you’d met me, but I had trouble keeping friends as a child and a reputation at work as a “bossy know-it-all”. Things are much better now, but I still have work to do (I still really struggle with letting other people do things their way instead of mine) , and I’ll always have to double-check whether I’m trying to enforce a truly rational standard or an arbitrary one.

Some of the other comments provide a more detailed or technical explanation, but the way my professor freshman year described it was like this: it’s when someone has consistent thoughts or behaviors that are considered distressing or outside societal norms, and outside of whatever a reasonable standard deviation is since not everyone acts and thinks exactly the same