The most common feature of personality disorders is their inflexibility and resistance to treatment. Patients who suffer from personality disorders experience a great deal of dysfunction in their personal relationships, due both to the disorder itself and to their and others' ignorance of the disorder's existence. The patients cannot correlate their relationship difficulties with their personality disorders, and those who care for patients with a personality disorder have difficulty understanding the rigid behaviors and maladaptive cognitive processes that characterize the disorder. The symptoms of personality disorders initially manifest themselves in childhood or adolescence, but the rapid fluctuation of personality at these developmental stages.
Personality disorders occur in ten forms, organized into three clusters: odd, dramatic and anxious. The features of these disorders often overlap, making diagnosis and treatment a difficult endeavor. Diagnosticians frequently disagree on the correct diagnosis and some assign more than one personality disorder to the same patient.
Certain patterns in the features of personality disorders arise when viewed side by side. All result in relationship difficulties, but nine of the ten disorders also share self-absorbed behavior, excepting only the dependent disorder. Eight of the ten disorders feature suspicious behavior and general mistrustful thinking, excepting only the schizoid and histrionic disorders. Those with schizoid disorder are the only patients that do not feature depression and feelings of helplessness.
Some think that the overarching similarity between the different personality disorders is that the patient derives some benefit from his or her rigid, inflexible idiosyncrasies. This view cannot be supported based on the presence of helplessness more often than not. The most profound definition, though, is the abnormal functioning that results in harm to the personality itself. Patients cannot be their true selves because they are locked into unhealthy patterns that affect their relationships. Even the schizoid personality who...