What is a personality disorder? Glad you asked!
In essence, it is a mental disorder where instead of the problem being your brain setup, mood, disconnection from reality, or pointless habits, you simply behave in a way that makes adjusting to life difficult. Lots of people do this, so it's important to recognize that everybody has these traits to one degree or another. They're called personality styles when they don't cause problems.
Note that personality is sometimes considered the psychological immune system. Indeed, those with personality traits like behaviors that are often antagonistic towards others or a tendency to take things too personally are more likely to show mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. Such disorders are often the reason why someone with a personality disorder would seek treatment in the first place.
Any behavior can be justified depending on what situation you're put in. It's believed these people act the way they do because as a child they were overexposed to situations where the behavior had survival value, reinforcing it
. So they never learned to shift gears when the situation calls for it. Genetics usually only ensure that the childhood environment doesn't have a blank canvas to work on, but sometimes people literally were born that way. If you really want a better grasp of these disorders, it helps to get a basic understanding of evolution and the process of natural selection. Thinking about how this behavior would be useful in a low tech hunter-gatherer society tends to help too.
Things to keep in Mind
The 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 should be considered, at best, informed speculation rather than definite fact. 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 leads to some good things, see Properly Paranoid
Examples from various media
- Rorschach from Watchmen views the world as one big cesspool of criminals and degenerates. His obsession with fighting crime is such that he seldom bathes or even eats or sleeps, and he suspects nearly everyone of being guilty of something. To be fair, though, he lives in a world where Nixon is serving a fourth term as President, the government has a god-like being at its disposal, and one of the wealthiest industrialists in the country is plotting to unleash a genetically-engineered monster on New York City, so it's not like he has no reason to be paranoid.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
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 perceived 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 perceived 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
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion believes herself to be the number one pilot and insists that others treat her that way. Because of this, she has only one friend; Hikari. Behind all her bluster, hides a deep sense of social insecurity and self-loathing.
- Light Yagami of Death Note develops a full on god complex and doesn't take criticism well. He has no friends at all; he has pawns and enemies.
- Father from Fullmetal Alchemist. Hohenheim identifies the entire conspiracy to become God as overcompensation for Homunculus' original form, when he was perpetually trapped inside a flask and forced to serve the King of Xerxes. This is also true to a lesser extent for Pride, although he mainly serves as The Dragon for Father.
- Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog: Scourge the Hedgehog (aka Evil Sonic) does not merely have Sonic's large ego, but cranks it Up to Eleven with a desire for power and respect (or fear; both are fine), and a solid belief that the world owes him a favour just for gracing it with his existance.
- Doctor Doom: An egomaniac that talks in the third person. He's especially bad when his arch-enemy, Reed Richards, is involved.
- Lex Luthor: His intelligence coupled with his refusal to care about those who are not extensions of himself and his ability to identify with beings like Brainiac and the Joker identifies him as a sufferer of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
- Sunset Boulevard: Norma Desmond didn't take her descent from super stardom well. She hired a former director as a butlter and reads fake fan mail. Eventually she goes completely delusional when she can't accept that the world doesn't revolve around her.
- The Crucible: Abigail Williams sends her town into hysteria because she can't accept that her crush is Happily Married to someone else.
- The Lion King: Scar says as much in his Villain Song: "The king undisputed, respect and saluted and seen for the WONDER I am!"
- Peter Pan thinks the world of himself. In the animated sequel, Jane said he can fly because he's full of hot air.
- ."Literature/Gone". Caine goes from a severe, more alarming version of a Jerkass to asking to be refered it as Your Highness and declaring himself king. It doesn't go well
- Dr. Cox from Scrubs is the greatest doctor of them all, a diagnosing machine, this fabulous thing. Too bad his personal life is in shambles. The show has also delivered An Aesop when showing how a little bit of confidence is not necessarily a bad thing and goes a long way towards making their patients feeling at ease.
Religion and Mythology
- It'sAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia: Dennis Reynolds repeatedly refers to himself as a legend and a 'Golden God' despite being no cooler than the others. His shallow, self-interested relationships with almost everyone he interacts with, combined with his constant self-aggrandisement makes him a textbook case.
- Satan in the versions where he becomes jealous of God and rebels against him. Milton would say that he preferred to rule in Hell because he couldn't rule in Heaven.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula is very competent when she's sure of herself which leads to a high opinion of herself. When her "best friends" betrayed her she became increasingly narassistic and paranoid.
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
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.
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.
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Wrath from the 2003 anime version. The lack of affection he receives eventually drives him insane, and leads him to believe that Sloth is his mother, to whom he literally fuses himself together so he will never be abandoned.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't
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 seldom Ax-Crazy
or Consummate Liars
ó though occasional examples exist ó 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.
However, it should be noted that BPD is considered one of the most treatable personality disorders out there, with a high rate of remission over time with properly treated patients. It is often called the "good prognosis diagnosis".
and Black and White Insanity
for the Hollywood version of two symptoms of borderline personality disorder.
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Sayaka Miki has a black and white worldview, fears abandonment, breaks down under pressure, is prone to violent outbursts when frustrated, and becomes suicidal. When she finds out she can never be with Kyousuke, she snaps.
- Harvey Dent/Two-Face from Batman, although varying based on the interpretation, usually has at least five symptoms (personality disassociation, black-and-white splitting, mood swings, alternating between extreme idealization and devaluation, and frequent outbursts of inappropriate anger), which is enough for a diagnosis.
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. By his own admission, Bateman has no set identity and just tells people what they want to hear. He is extremely insecure about his lack of professional and personal gloss (his job and clothes all came from daddy), and lashes out at anyone who calls attention it.
- Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader has been theorized to have this disorder. Psychiatry Research (Vol. 185) also had a paper about him, proposing that lessons learned from the movie's portrayal of him, and demographic responses, could be used for public education.
- Diane Selwyn from Mulholland Dr. exhibits the classic Borderline symptoms of suicidal ideation, intense anger, splitting, chronic feelings of emptiness, and excessive efforts to avoid abandonment.
- Tiffany Maxwell from Silver Linings Playbook is a good example. She can't sit still for long, and finds comfort in the arms of skeevy, older men.
- Sissy from Shame has a fear of abandonment, cuts herself, and engages in self-destructive behavior.
- Loki from Thor has tried to commit suicide, is prone to self-sabotage and self-destruction, and tries to kill his brother Thor several times, but then is hurt when he doesn't visit him in prison. A lot of his aggression during the first film could be seen as frantic efforts to avoid abandonment by his family.
- Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen displays enough of the DSM-V criteria needed to be diagnosed with the disorder, showing unstable emotions, intense outburst of anger, unstable identity, chronic feelings of emptiness, impulsivity, and difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Also, her upbringing is one typically found in those with the disorder: experiencing a traumatic event when she hits her sister Anna with her powers, being in an emotionally invalidating environment were she has to "conceal, don't feel" her emotions in an attempt to control her powers, and being forced to "be the good girl she always has to be."
- The book Girl Interrupted is based on its author's stay in a mental institution after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
- Criminal Intent features two episodes with suspects specifically said to suffer from BPD. Maya (played by Caroline Dhavernas) in "Love Sick" and Charlene (played by Missy Crider) in "Bedfellows." In each episodes their symptoms are listed.
- Oliver Trask of The O.C. though he claims to be diagnosed with depression, also exhibits many of the criteria for borderline personality disorder, as listed in the American Psychological Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders such as an unstable and false image of himself, recurrent suicidal gestures, his mood fluctuates very rapidly, going from depressed states to relatively happy ones, and he occasionally has trouble controlling his anger.
- Both of the eponymous characters of Romeo and Juliet suffers from this, in addition to being impulsive teens themselves. Throughout the play itself, both also had behaviors from this disorder which eventually led to their suicides; chronic depression, rushing into love, marriage and sex, changing from one mood to another and contemplating about killing themselves for each other.
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. They can appreciate friends - you can show off to friends or show off rich and attractive friends - even if they do always put themselves first. Antisocials will take what they need or want, and don't think of anybody as a friend; everybody is a tool. 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
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- The Doll from Alan Moore's Promethea is referred to as an omnipath
omnipath: appears to be a word coined by Alan Moore. I couldn't find it in the Oxford English Dictionary but it could be a
combination of two words the Latin omnis meaning 'all' and the Greek pathos meaning "suffering'.
I asked Paul McFedries who runs the wordspy website about omnipath and his reply was as follows :
My guess is that, in this case, the author is trying to let us know that the character is a psychopath, a sociopath, and
whatever other -path you can think of that implies deviancy, a twisted\ mind, and extreme antisocial behaviour.
- A Clockwork Orange: Alex enjoys ultra-violence as a pastime and is this is why he is conditioned to become violently ill if he tries it again. It was the only way to stop him.
- Sherlock Holmes has 2 villains who had all the opportunities to become to have great honest careers. James Moriarty was a well respected college professor. Sebastian Moran was considered an honorable soldier. In both cases, they where influenced by a genetic disorder to take up a dishonest lifestyle, perhaps Antisocial Personality Disorder.
"There are some trees, Watson, which grow to a certain height, and then suddenly develop some unsightly eccentricity. You will see it often in humans. I have a theory that the individual represents in his development the whole procession of his ancestors, and that such a sudden turn to good or evil stands for some strong influence which came into the line of his pedigree. The person becomes, as it were, the epitome of the history of his own family." —The Adventure of the Empty House: Sherlock Holmes
- Ellsworth Toohey from The Fountainhead shows a compulsive need for destruction, superficial charm, manipulative behaviour, sadistic tendencies and a need for control in all of his relationships.
- Most soulless vampires on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, although not all of them. Spike without a soul, was no worse than Narcissistic. Angelus (Angel without a soul) is a classic case, although not all real people with this disorder are violent.
- The Janitor from Scrubs is a habitual liar who thinks tripping someone and breaking their neck is hilarious.
- Arrested Development provides a few interesting characters:
- Lack of responsibility - frequently truant from school, finding others to do her homework
- Consummate Liar - Effortlessly pretends to be a film executive.
- Theft from the banana stand, within which there is always money
- Parasitic lifestyle - doesn't work a day in his life until he does so accidentally
- Manipulative Bastard - one of the best
- Lack of Empathy - Feels no responsibility for his son, even going as far as making a campaign video mocking him for not knowing who is father is.
- All of the above plus she is super entitled
- Insincerity - starts many "causes" based on whatever she perceives to be an issue at that point and shows shallow love for her daughter
- Egocentricity - is more bothered by the fact that her husband doesn't find her attractive than the fact that her marriage is a sham.
- Kronos from Highlander: The Series. He spent millennia as a remorseless killer of immortals and mortals alike, and unlike other immortals, failed to change with the times as society around him grew less accepting of violent lifestyles.
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
Examples from various media
- Kanon Nakagawa from The World God Only Knows dislikes people who don't show interest in her and only became an idol singer because she felt people weren't paying enough attention to her.
- Stephen Colbert from the The Colbert Report and in-character appearances in other media runs on applause.
- It has been professionally suggested that Caroline Channing on 2 Broke Girls is a classic case of HPD.
Her symptoms: Seeming to overcome her motherís abandonment and fatherís Ponzi scheme, Caroline comes off as resilient. But Caroline also craves attention, is flirty (sometimes to a fault) and is overly concerned about her appearance.
- Dee on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia shows the classic histrionic symptoms of being; demanding, gullible, a low frustration tolerance, overly concerned with her appearance, energetic, manipulative, seductive, impulsive, and erratic.
- Sonic the Hedgehog; it has been debated as to whether he fights evil for the rush, or for the attention. While this doesn't mean he wouldn't fight it anyway, he has been shown to bask in the attention and recognition he gets from being the hero.
- Donnie DuPre from Demo Reel is needy, slutty partly because he's trapped in a loveless marriage, clingy to people he just met and the only way we see him getting what he wants is through bedroom eyes and plenty of handsiness. Explained and made sympathetic by his tragic backstory: his mother committed suicide when he was a child and for the rest of his life, others treated him like he was worthless.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Rarity almost always tries to be the center of attention, she frequently wears clothing inappropriate for current situation (a common symptom of HPD), and is extremely over dramatic and emotional. This strains her relationship with her younger sister who complains that Rarity always tries to steal attention away from her, even at times when she actually wasn't.
- Trixie is a show pony that calls herself "the great and powerful" whenever possible. She will not tolerate anyone stealing her spotlight.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Surprisingly, this is an entirely different disorder than Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. In fact, it is more similar to the common perception of OCD; As The Other Wiki
states: "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."
OCD itself usually involves intrusive thoughts (called obsessions) of something terrible happening, often, but not always, accompanied by the need to perform rituals (called compulsions) as a defense from the thoughts coming true. OCPD tends to involve excessive perfectionism and interest in detail. An example of the difference between them is that people with OCPD tend to be all right with their behavior, while people with OCD often feel worse after performing the compulsions. That said, a person might have both disorders, since they both stem from anxiety.
Higher functioning suffers of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder 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).
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.
Examples from various media
- Monk uses his obbession for perfection and details to solves cases.
- The Hour Randall Brown is a high-functioning variant; his perfectionism and obsessive organization show how good a team leader he is and how difficult of a person to live with.
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 (usually) aren't interested.
Avoidants have been known to employ paranoid and passive-aggressive defenses, but there are a sizable majority of avoidants that don't. Narcissists may have with avoidant traits, 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. Avoidant personality disorder can also be very similar to social anxiety disorder
See also hikikomori
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- Shinji's case is called "Hedgehog's delimma'. He wants to be close to others but is poked by their quills and so he withdraws.
- Gendo as well. He puts on a callous Anti-social facade because he felt he didn't deserve Shinji's love, and so drove him away. He also desperately wanted to see Yui again.
- Please Teacher!: Kei Kusanagi falls more towards an avoidant style but his fictional illness is an exaggerated form of something avoidants can go through if forced into a social setting and they can't escape to solitude.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Lieutenant Barclay
Barclay: I mean I'm the guy who writes down things to remember to say when there is a party. And then when he finally gets there he winds up alone, in the corner, trying to look... comfortable examining a potted plant
Geordi: You're just shy Barclay.
Barclay: Just shy... Sounds like nothing serious, doesn't it?
- Laura Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie
The phenomenon of avoidant personality
disorder (PD) is captured in the character Laura in Tennessee Williams's (1945/1999) The Glass Menagerie. Laura is so painfully shy that she is practically homebound; when she does go out, she does not interact with others. Desperately yearning for affection but believing that she is unlovable because of a disability, she interacts mostly with her somewhat overbearing and formerly very popular mother. Laura is a tragic figure, because it seems clear as the drama unfolds that Laura could make a fine companion if only she could escape her demons.
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 that avoidants flee from interpersonal interaction due to severe insecurity and low self-esteem, whereas schizoids find emotional closeness to be smothering and overwhelmingly risky, often equating their emotional desires as "needy" or "weak" and thus subdue them, lending to their perceived aloofness and (largely false) interpersonal disinterest.
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.
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
Examples from various media
Anime and Manga
- Sherlock Holmes - shows little interest in confiding in others or romantic relations despite showing perfect social skills, and is indifferent to praise, usually allowing all of the credit to go to whichever police officer Sherlock happens to be working with. His brother Mycroft also shows many characteristics of this personality disorder, including joining a club whos main rule prohibits talking to each other, showing extreme anhedonia manifested by little interest in much, even though his skills are probably superior to those of Sherlock.
- The Underground Man from Notes from Underground. He also probably suffers from Avoidant Personality Disorder.
- Lisbeth Salander from "The Millennium Trilogy" is most likely a schizoid. She's a loner with very few friends and acquaintances. She doesn't get close to anyone, and would much prefer to read a book about advanced mathematics, island-hop, or hack a computer than to socialize.
- Harry Potter: Severus Snape shows little concern or interest in romantic or personal relationships. (except for one single girl, who happens to be dead) Is always seen reading, when not teaching, instead of talking with others. Does not express interest in anything that doesn't have anything to do with his interests, studying, or whatever his mind is on or what he perceives as important. In the words of Alan Rickman 'He is very concentrated...lives a solitary life. Does not have much of a social life' He has a massive intellect, knows it, and most likely views others beneath him or of just little to no interest.
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
, and Bunny-Ears Lawyer
. New Age
beliefs and belief in Conspiracy Theories
Examples from various media
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
, 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.)
Examples from various media
- In YuYu Hakusho, during the Dark Tournament finals, various lines of dialogue and their fighting styles show how sadistic Karasu, elder Toguro, and Sakyou can be.
- Air Gear: Agito enjoys carving his road into the bodies of other storm riders.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Envy is proud of starting the Isval War, and takes sadistic pleasure in telling Mustang about his murder of Hughes, and the anger that erupts on his face.
- The 2003 anime version of Envy shows Borderline traits like inconsistent gender identity, explosive anger, and anger over his/her abandonment by Hohenheim.
- Harry Potter: Bellatrix Lestrange is fond of torturing people until they go insane
- Jordan Sulivan from Scrubs enjoys ruining other relationships, and emasculating her ex-husband. Although she is rarely violent, she uses manipulation to enforce her rules.
- Transformers Prime: Airachnid enjoys inflicting physical and emotional trauma on helpless victims, loves bringing up the things you'd rather forget she did. Eager to grab at power, especially if it means stabbing someone in the back.
Everything and the kitchen sink