Things to keep in MindThe comorbidity of these disorders leads to confusion. Looking at a personality as a story and each disorder as a different genre that can overlap with other ones can help to understand it better. Keep in mind that even if somebody meets the criteria for one personality disorder they can still meet the criteria for a personality style of one of the other disorders. If two of the disorders look like they'll cause similar behavior, the underlying reasons for the behavior in each is different. No two people with the same mental disorder act exactly the same, and just because a behavior is reported to be common in a mental disorder doesn't mean everyone who has the disorder will behave that way. Hollywood Psych and SoYouWantTo.Develop Character Personality note are useful to keep in mind. Also, although the specific personality disorders list traits, a personalty disorder is more defined by the inability to get along with others than specific personality traits. When most people encounter a situation they will experiment with different things (some things they're reluctant to try and some things not so much) until they find something that works for them and everybody involved. People with personality disorders will keep doing the same thing regardless of results. While it can be a trying experience to be around people with these disorders, keep in mind that Real Life people suffer from these disorders. Laymen should abstain from "diagnosing" real people and the diagnosing of fictional people done here is to be considered tongue in cheek. No Real Life Examples, Please! unless professionally diagnosed.
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Paranoid Personality Disorder
Most of us know not to be offended when we see the Alpha Bitch, Jerk Jock, or Big Man on Campus walking down the street. Not so with these people. They're suspicious of everybody's motives and don't know who to trust. Those afflicted undergo immense emotional torment from failing to form close bonds with people. Their ability to appreciate the aesthetic value of something, such as the quiet and tranquility of a day at the park, is reduced or nonexistent because they're busy examining every minor detail for nonexistent proof that others are trying to sabotage them. People who were repeatedly backstabbed, or have a Humans Are Bastards perspective, can be prone to this. Like the narcissist they see themselves as the victim and have difficulty in recognizing their role in the discomfort of others. The difference is that narcissists want the company of other people, when they bring praise, and actively attract people to themselves. Paranoids don't like the company of other people because those people will more than likely take what little this unfair life decided to give the paranoid person. The way in which they cause discomfort is also different. With narcissists people would rather spend their time and energy doing others things such as getting to the solution of the problem. With paranoids people tire of the accusations and wish they'd be more of a team player. Some studies suggest the paranoid personality disorder is part of the schizophrenic spectrum and some suggest PPD has connections to delusional disorder but not schizophrenia. Like delusional disorder someone with paranoid personality disorder can be a high functioning case of The Schizophrenia Conspiracy. Cult leaders have a good chance of having paranoid personality disorder or grandiose delusional disorder instead of schizophrenia. When this personality disorder leadw to some good things, see Properly Paranoid.
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Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The Narcissist is It's All About Me personified. These people expect to be treated like a God in your life, despite the fact that they don't do anything and possibly make things worse. Be very careful when calling these people out on it. They've been known to use emotional manipulation to boost their enormous ego. A healthy sense of narcissism helps us withstand criticism, insults, and spring back from periods of self-doubt and detrimental anxiety (especially the ones the paranoid, avoidant and dependent are likely to suffer). It does so by telling us to ignore our own faults and the consequences of our actions. Pathological narcissism is when a person's need for admiration and special treatment is so extreme that it gets in the way of them forming close bonds with others. Too much narcissism causes people to procrastinate, become lazy, refuse to admit they made a mistake, become incapable of putting themselves in other people's shoes, turn into a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, or become a victim of Pride. People who display constant, excessive narcissism are said to have narcissistic personality disorder. There is some controversy as to what type of childhood narcissists had. Some researches believe that narcissists where overvalued by their parents, while others think that they had a dismal childhood. People in a manic mood will also show a greatly inflated sense of self-esteem. However, a person in a manic mood will also have a lot of energy and will have an elevated mood, whereas a narcissist will be in a chronic state of depression. Also, a manic mood is by definition a state different from a persons normal mood, and the person will eventually return to an even mood, or possibly a depressed mood where self-esteem will come down. The narcissist leans towards feeling they have an unalienable right to being privileged as opposed to the paranoid, antisocial, and passive-agressive personality disorders where they try to rationalize their behavior away. A narcissist has some similarities to the Antisocial Personality in their selfishness, but they are not blind to others' emotions (although those emotions do come second to their own). While many of their actions are selfish in motive, narcissists can still be very friendly, outgoing and generous people. They may for example offer to pay for a meal, anticipating compliments for their generosity, or that they will be percieved as having more disposable income (making them a better person). However if they believe they will not be acknowledged for good behaviour, they usually won't make the effort. They also feel friends and social activities are important. While friends are utilised mostly as ego buffers, this is not just through complimenting the narcissist, but also through the popularity percieved by having many friends. They can also come in handy for taking tiresome and strenuous tasks off the narcissist's shoulders. Premodern concepts include the ancient Greek Hubris which meant excessive pride leading to or simply occurring before a fall. The contemporary view of narcissists is they're annoyingly unable to see this dynamic repeating itself in their lives. See also Small Name, Big Ego, The Prima Donna, Spoiled Brat, and Inferiority Superiority Complex.
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Dependent Personality Disorder
Having its origins as a pathetic variation of moral insanity, this disorder causes people to be afraid of doing anything on their own out of fear of failure and always wanting someone there to hold their hand. When on their own, either through freezing up or lack of training, these people are useless. When their emotional crutch is with them they might gain competency, but they are still nowhere close to reaching their full potential. Under a certain age this is to be expected, so it's a requirement that you must be eighteen years or older to be diagnosed. Both the dependent and narcissist want others to take care of their needs, but the dependent is able to realize others have needs too. The dependent can become overly submissive, with dependents frequently remaining in an abusive relationship. Worse, an abuser will usually lower the dependant's self-esteem further to make them even more dependant. Adaptive variations derive huge satisfaction from working as a team. They feel out of their element when having to go it alone but they can stand on their own if they have to. The Yandere archetype is an example of this trope: the female character is so dependent upon the love of her obsession that she is willing to threaten and kill in order to win or keep their boyfriend.
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Borderline Personality Disorder
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Mother nature creates mental defenses that aren't important for survival. Indeed, suffers of this disorder often show chronic depression and anxiety disorders. Often times this disorder will be diagnosed after someone threatens or attempts suicide. Borderlines often report a history of childhood trauma. Prospective studies (those that interview people before the disorder starts) have shown that abuse correlates to the development of BPD, but is not necessary for its development. Some conceptualize the disorder as trauma based, calling it Complex PTSD. There has been talk about renaming this disorder to "emotionally unstable personality disorder" because it provides a better description of what's going on. The name "borderline" stems from when patients were thought to be borderline schizophrenic. As psychiatrists found out more about schizophrenia, they came to realize that only a portion of borderline patients suffered from bouts of psychosis; thus, a name change was in order. There is evidence to suggest it has connections to bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and dissociation instead. The life of a borderline can be described as chaotic. They often report feeling empty or bored. Lack of self-image leaves the patient feeling baffled in any situation, with no clue how to feel or think. With no concrete identity, they resort to theatrics, which proves exhausting and typically fools no one. They derive little satisfaction from this juggling of identities or even personal achievements, given the lack of emotional connection to them. This is often relieved by interpersonal relationships. Note that these can become unstable due to black and white thinking and their quickly shifting moods. They are also prone to nihilism, and have difficulty making and maintaining long-term plans. Even with an understanding of what's going on, few people have patience for the superficial and self-sabotaging nature of BPD. Their moods can be described as mercurial. They can go from happy in the morning to suicidal by lunch time. It doesn't take much to shatter a borderline's good mood. Naturally, they seek to keep their mood 'up' with things that promise instant gratification: This includes use of addictive drugs, Self Harm, reckless spending, dangerous sex, and disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are common), as well as more innocuous vices like porn. However, borderlines have a tendency towards depression, frequently describing feelings of emptiness, or brokenness. The vast majority of borderlines also meet the criteria of Major Depressive Disorder. Contrary to popular culture's depiction (we're looking at you, Fatal Attraction), those with BPD are not Ax-Crazy or Consummate Liars, and are far more prone to punishing themselves than others. Though they are terrified of abandonment and will take dramatic actions to avoid it, they're more likely to do so by threatening or attempting self harm rather than taking an If I Can't Have You approach. (Note: Despite Self Harm being listed in the criteria for BPD, Self Harm is not necessarily indicative of BPD.) It is estimated that 1 in 10 people diagnosed with this disorder will die at their own hands. Risk factors for completed suicide include previous suicide attempts (even if they seem manipulative), severe depression, substance abuse, and recent rejection. Any threats of suicide should be taken seriously. See Mood-Swinger and Black and White Insanity for the Hollywood version of two symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
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Antisocial Personality Disorder
Often referred to as The Sociopath, this person is the same as the narcissist except they won't take it personally if you kick them out. The only reason they'll stay in somebody's life is because that person is gullible and there's no need to reinvent the wheel. When in doubt, narcissists want others to take care of their needs and wants. Antisocials will take what they need or want. They have a reputation for rationalizing acts most would consider dog kicking, in the process shaming their accuser for standing up for themselves. Humans on average lean towards conservatism due to biological urges that make it as natural as breathing or having sex. People with antisocial personality disorder don't have these urges or they exist in diminished capacity. So if you want these individuals to be prosocial, the behavior will have to be learned which becomes harder to teach as the antisocial individual grows older. Antisocial behavior is theorized to be nature's defense against leaders who don't have our best interests in mind, Obstructive Bureaucrats, and other situations where the disadvantages of being part of a group outweigh the benefits. When someone has a habit of obviously violating other people's rights and uses this as an excuse, they are said to have antisocial personality disorder. People with an antisocial style are action and adventure seekers or artists and scientists who have no qualms of violating established rules or disproving widely held theories. Precursors include Theophastrus's The Unscrupulous Man, Philippe Pinel's moral insanity, psychopathy, and sociopathy. Like the paranoid, they see everybody else as always out to get them. The difference is the paranoid has a set of standards they abide by. Paranoids are nice people trying to survive in a world where everybody else is a sadistic psychopath. Antisocials are sadistic psychopaths trying to survive in a world where everybody else is a sadistic psychopath. Despite the popular image of the antisocial as always a criminal, the antisocial can be contrasted against most criminals, who will usually take precautions against getting caught. Also sometimes known as the Psychopathic or Sociopathic Personality. See also Lack of Empathy and The Sociopath.
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Histrionic Personality Disorder
An evolution of the Victorian era concept of the Hysterical Woman, people with this disorder aren't looking for material wealth but attention and have developed an effective means of acquiring it. Being a Ditz or Really Gets Around isn't a requirement for this disorder. Despite popular conception, people with this disorder aren't always promiscuous, though they often are; it's more about compulsive attention seeking and dramatic behavior, and a conception of self worth rooted in the approval of others. People with this disorder are highly emotional, charming, energetic, manipulative, seductive, impulsive, erratic, and demanding, often gullible, have low tolerance for frustration, and are overly concerned with their appearance. A lot of people with this disorder lead successful careers where they're a valuable member of their company. The problem with this disorder is those afflicted have difficulty sustaining romantic relationships and personal friendships because of their stormy nature and perceived insincerity. Interestingly, this is the only personality disorder directly connected with physical appearance - HPD is more prevalent among individuals with above-average looks. Dependents and histrionics are after the advantages of being part of a group. While dependents sit around and hope someone comes along, histrionics are go getters. Please read the description and don't list people simply because they're a Fetish Fuel Station Attendant, Good Bad Girl, or Ethical Slut. Men can have this disorder; most people with an official diagnosis (as opposed to going undetected) are female. The less severe the disorder becomes the more they sincerely gravitate towards Manic Pixie Dream Girl and/or When She Smiles. See also Attention Whore, Drama Queen and Femme Fatale.
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Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
These people are very anal-retentive about making sure everything is perfect. While there are situations where it's justified, your average person's motivations can only hold out for so long. People with Obsessive-Compulsive PD have a hard time grasping that their anxiety is too overwhelming to take other people's feelings into consideration. They normally have enough mental stability to stick to their plans better than people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, who can't seem to make it past the washing hands step. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder where the person afflicted feels they have to repeat pointless tasks to make anxiety go away. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is a personality disorder where the person sees nothing wrong with their unrealistic goal for perfection. Higher functioning suffers of this can be very effective team leaders or workers since their perfectionism drives them to get the job done. Lower functioning ones tend to have trouble getting projects in on time since they're busy making it juuust right, or tend to focus on the task itself while losing sight of the overall goal. They can also be a pain to work with, either chewing out subordinates for not living up to their (universally applied) standards or just not entrusting any tasks to anyone at all (they would only mess it up). Many people with Obsessive-compulsive disorder are also very eager to avoid outward displays of emotion and try not to emote very much themselves. There's speculation the underlying cause of all these traits is a desire for total control, since emotion is unpredictable. This behavior can be found in watered down and comedic forms all over the media but they usually don't portray the full ramifications of what it's like to have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
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Avoidant Personality Disorder
Racked with self doubt, low self esteem, and social anxiety. They can sometimes be so withdrawn that they look like Schizoids on the outside. The difference is that Avoidants desperately want to be with people but are too afraid to, while true Schizoids couldn't care less. Avoidants have been known to employ paranoid and passive-aggressive defenses, but there are a sizable majority of avoidants that don't. Narcissists with avoidant traits have a little more insight into their condition than most narcissists, but whereas the pure avoidant buckles under social pressure and retreats into a fantasy world, the narcissist will get drunk off his fantasies and keep plowing forward. On the schizophrenic spectrum, avoidant personality disorder is seen as a less severe form of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, and the schizoid personality disorder is seen as a less severe form of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. See also hikikomori.
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Schizoid Personality Disorder
Hard to distinguish from background scenery yet somehow manages to be abrasive. Severe cases of this disorder resemble catatonic states. If they have depersonalization disorder they won't be freaked out by it. This disorder rarely shows up in the media though many characters would meet the criteria if they were less ambitious, weren't secretly shy, or weren't spiced up with the Rule of Cool. Less severe cases are hard to differentiate from the avoidant. The main difference is avoidants are afraid of not being good enough and schizoids simply lack the motivation. On one end the avoidant and schizoid personality disorders blend into healthy levels of introversion, shyness, and/or asocialness; and on the other end they blend into the schizotypal personality disorder. All three personality disorders are part of the schizophrenic spectrum. There are many questions as to the validity of this disorder. People with this disorder are perfectly happy being loners, show very little distress, and therefore rarely seek treatment. Occasionally, this may be confused with autism, and several of the characters on the list below have also been interpreted as autistic. See also: Extreme Doormat and Empty Shell.
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Schizotypal Personality Disorder
"Poor fellow. Has very interesting behavior. I've been asking the doc what's wrong with him for years now but he keeps saying he's fine." These people are the borderline schizophrenics. Like the borderline they lack a stable sense of self. If someone mentions Easter they immediately think the Easter Bunny's right ear, something else more specific than the average person would think of, or something only loosely affiliated with Easter. Symbols must travel down long and twisted corridors before reaching something the rest of us would find relevant and possibly not even making it anywhere at all. Borderlines have no sense of self because they're at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of their emotions which destroy any attempt at consistency. Their speech pattern exhibits a Continuity Lock-Out with reality through the use of Vagueness Is Coming and Rule of Symbolism. This is believed to reflect a similar Magic Realism style perception of the world. Variations exist where schizotypal eccentricities can be explained by avoidant nervousness or schizoid emptiness. See also The Wonka, Cloudcuckoolander, and Bunny-Ears Lawyer. New Age beliefs and belief in Conspiracy Theories are common.
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Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder
NOTE: This disorder has been removed from the DSM and is no longer considered a valid diagnosis. People who are afraid to tell you they have a problem with you but don't want to come across as selfish. The result is instead of the two of you talking through your problems the passive aggressive lets one annoyance after another pile up. While the fear of retaliation keeps the passive aggressive from directly stating their opinion, they will find small things that can easily overlooked but still cause annoyance to their target. Bothering by the Book is a well documented method of doing this thus giving the passive aggressive the appearance of the obsessive compulsive at the times. However if you look closely you'll see this behavior isn't consistent. Someone exercising authority or control over them, being dependent on other people, and having to compete with other people can serve as catalysts or amplifiers to the above mentioned behavior. This being antagonistic one moment but acting as if nothing happened the next can resemble the idealization and devaluation of the borderline but this resemblance is only superficial. Passive aggressive people are simply afraid to come out and say what's bugging them and borderlines have an instability extending to many levels of their psych. Passive aggressive personality disorder also doesn't imply self harming and impulsive behavior. Also referred to as the negativistic personality disorder, focusing on their pessimistic outlook on life, due to excessive passive aggressiveness being a symptom of many mental disorders including all the personality disorders.
Sadistic Personality Disorder
NOTE: This disorder has been removed from the DSM and is no longer considered a valid diagnosis. These people like to dominate others and take joy from inflicting harm on them. Unlike the Anti-Social Personality where violence may be carried out For the Evulz, during a crime, or other ill defined reasons, a person with a sadistic personality uses violence for the purpose of dominating and humiliating their victim. Similar to the Narcissist, these individuals are afraid of appearing weak or out of control. Their behavior extends beyond merely being callous, with those around them often being subjected to harsh punishment for straying out of line. Unlike the Narcissistic and Borderline Personalities, violence is not merely an outlet for anger, but an acceptable method for controlling others. Interestingly in Real Life this disorder comes closer than the antisocial personality disorder to what people think of when they hear psychopath (sadistic serial killer) but it's still not an exact match . Compare and contrast Combat Sadomasochist, The Fighting Narcissist, Psycho for Hire, Ax-Crazy, and Faux Affably Evil. Others like hiding behind positions of authority, using emotional abuse instead of violence, and lean more towards Drill Sergeant Nasty or a big brother type of person. Others still are shy people with low confidence similar to the avoidant except they secretly desire to make their tormentors (real or imagined) squirm in pain and when feeling bold enough see nothing wrong with the occasional Roaring Rampage of Revenge. (NOTE: This disorder has nothing to do with individuals who may engage in sadistic sexual practices with a CONSENTING sexual partner.)
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Everything and the kitchen sink
Works that involve a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits will sometimes intentionally have every character written with a personality disorder in mind. They will often have amazing skill to compensate for their emotional-social deficiencies.
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