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 (or could) be useful in a low tech hunter-gatherer society tends to help too.
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 Personalitynote are useful to keep in mind.
Also, although the specific personality disorders list traits, a personality 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.
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 too 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 other 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 mediaAnime & Manga
- Guts from Berserk. After being betrayed, branded and hunted by demons (and hunting them in turn), Guts doesn't trust anyone.
- 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 fifth 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.
- Played for comedy at first with Red Alert, the notoriously distrustful security director in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. He has been one of Rung's patients for centuries... and it's revealed that it took almost a hundred sessions just to get Red Alert to let Rung see his face, a dozen more to get a name, over a hundred and fifty more to tell Rung his real name, and another fifty on top of that to get Red Alert to stop secretly recording their sessions. This is a 'bot who puts stories about Nixon to shame. Thing is, Red Alert is ultimately Properly Paranoid because people really are out to mess him up, and things go pear-shaped very quickly precisely because he's right, but doesn't know how to properly express his concerns.
The Narcissist is It's All About Me taken Up to Eleven. 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 (and treat apologies as a formality to get people off their ass or as a means of saving face and shifting blame), 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 were overvalued by their parents, while others think that they had a dismal childhood. The general consensus seems to be that it's a bit of both; it can indeed come from excessive praise and admiration that was never tempered with meaningful failure or constructive criticism, while it can also come from emotionally abusive and hypercritical environments and from overly inconsistent and unpredictable upbringings with arbitrary and overly frequent and/or severe punishments, and can also often be a learned behavior if their own parents were narcissists or had narcissistic traits. In other words, while it can be the end result of a spoiled child not growing up, it can also be the realization of "it's not you, it's them" in an abusive childhood mutating into "it's not you, it's literally everyone else".
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 person's 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-aggressive personality disorders who all try to rationalize their behavior away. How they see their conflicts with others depends on their life circumstances and other innate personality traits; the more arrogant and/or prideful ones tend to see themselves as paragons of humanity beset by spiteful and jealous "haters" who would be them if they could, while the more depressive and/or withdrawn ones tend to see themselves as good people who just want to live and let live, but are always being victimized by bad people and sucked into drama that they wanted no part of. In any case, the core issue is the same: their selfish, egocentric behavior created conflict and drama, and their general inability to recognize where they went wrong and tendency to disregard or rationalize away any genuine revelations means that they are prone to blameshifting and/or perpetual victimhood.
Like borderline personality disorder, narcissists are prone to splitting; people who are useful to them or who kowtow to them or otherwise do not challenge them or cause them any difficulty are good and virtuous, while people who are of no use to them or who get in their way or otherwise challenge them are purely worthless and terrible. Seldom are they without conflict in their lives, and they will let anyone and everyone know in no uncertain terms that they have the moral high ground; if even they know they can't believably spin a situation in a way that makes them look completely and utterly immaculate, they will nonetheless find a way to shift as much blame onto the other party as possible while making their own involvement look like a minor misstep in the face of grave injustice. It still wasn't their fault, they were just only human and faltered slightly but still handled it as well as they could have given the circumstances. When called out by a target in a way that completely destroys the narcissist's public persona and makes it clear that they are no longer capable of being controlled, an "extinction burst" may ensue, which is, at best, a major outburst of verbal abuse or attempts to make the target feel guilty, but may often progress into physical violence, manipulative suicide threats or attempts, or scorched-earth revenge campaigns.
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 thinking that they will be perceived as having more disposable income (thus making them a better person). However, if they believe they will not be acknowledged for good behavior, they usually won't make the effort. Low-functioning examples are typically marked by lives that are absolute dumpster fires; something in their lives is always collapsing or teetering on the precipice, someone is always getting sick of their shit and cutting them off, and while they may be cognizant of the fact that their lives are a mess, it is always someone else's fault.
They also feel friends and social activities are important. While friends are utilized 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, and when someone has cut them off or split with them, those same friends can also serve as "flying monkeys" who can relay messages to those people and/or harass them.
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. They're also notoriously difficult to treat (and unlikely to seek treatment to begin with; when they do, it is typically at the behest of friends, family, or the courts as part of an ultimatum) and it is not unheard of for therapists to shy away from attempting to treat narcissists, as it frequently takes years to get to the point where a therapist may have enough rapport with a client to even consider starting to plant the idea that some of a narcissist's problems may be due to their own behavior, and it's equally likely that all that hard work will be undone in one session when a narcissist takes something badly and abruptly finds a new therapist who will tell them exactly what they want to hear again.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Asuka Langley Sōryū 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 is a combination of this and The Sociopath. He develops a full-on god complex and doesn't take criticism well. He has no friends at all; he has pawns and enemies.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- 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.
- Dante from the 2003 anime version. She's a vain and selfish person who only wants to live longer.
- Full Metal Panic!: Leonard Testarossa. Unlike his sociopathic predecessors, he's capable of caring about others. But, he cares about himself, even more.
- Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Paptimus Scirocco. While he does value other people, it's in a very selfish way.
- Naruto: Madara Uchiha. He sees himself as godlike and the best one to lead the world into a better era.
- Archie's Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Scourge the Hedgehog (aka Evil Sonic) does not merely have Sonic's raging ego and self-confidence, but cranks it Up to Eleven with his love of power and respect (or fear; either are fine), and a solid belief that the world owes him a favour just for gracing it with his existence. Also unlike Sonic, who often thinks of himself as superior to others but will always put them first, Scourge will always put himself first, with almost zero consideration for the feelings or safety of other people.
- Adrian Veidt from Watchmen. Even though he is a villainous example of someone with this disorder, at first glance he seems like a kind man who lacks much of the grandiosity required for the diagnosis. Nonetheless, he has such a self-centered view of his importance to world events that he decides to play god and kill millions of people in a convoluted plot to prevent what he sees as inevitable nuclear holocaust. He also takes the name of an ancient pharaoh for his superhero identity and models his life after Alexander the Great, his idol.
- 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.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has Rodimus showing many symptoms. He has always believed that he is the only one truly qualified to be captain of the Lost Light, even at their moment of take-off with no evidence whatsoever. Despite his self-confidence, he is still rather susceptible to the opinions of others, and upon almost half of the crew voting for a change of captain, his instinct was to win every one of them back. He places a high value on friendship, but his best friends are those who admire him the most. His goal is not power or control, but for as many people to admire him as possible, bolstered by the absolute conviction that they totally will, and all it will take is a display of his awesomeness. Finally, he has a bad habit of letting other people come second to that goal. It's really just proof that you don't need to be a bad guy to be a narcissist.
- Other less subtle signs include the Rodimus Star, the Rodimus Plaque, the Rod Pod, and the Rod Squad.
Films — Animation
- 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: Peter thinks the world of himself. In the animated sequel, Return To Neverland, Jane said he can fly because he's full of hot air.
Films — Live-Action
- Sunset Boulevard: Norma Desmond didn't take her descent from superstardom well. She hired a former director as a butler 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.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego (as his name suggests) is a manipulative, supremely self-absorbed pathological liar whose grandstanding and love-bombing masks his pure contempt for anyone who he feels is beneath him; when his cover is blown, he lashes out in murderous narcissistic rage and demonstrates a severe case of Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, as he genuinely cannot seem to understand why anyone wouldn't want to be him if they could.
- Peter Pan thinks the world of himself.
- Gone Caine goes from a severe, more alarming version of a Jerkass to asking to be referred it as Your Highness and declaring himself king. It doesn't go well
- Harry Potter:
- House: Gregory House is a Jerk Ass (heart of gold notwithstanding) whose only friend is constantly in danger because of his attempts to exploit them. He also is constantly manipulative of everyone around him, often just for his own amusement.
- 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.
- Kara Thrace from Battlestar Galactica. "You may call me god", anyone?
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: 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.
- Despite his repeated insistence that he's a high-functioning sociopath, the version of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC's Sherlock actually fits the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder better than APD. He originally takes a liking to Watson because Watson is one of the few people who react with awe instead of getting defensive when Sherlock blurts out every uncomfortable fact that he deduces about their lives to show off. The reason Moriarty finds it so easy to turn people against him later in the series is because his arrogant attitude makes so many people angry that few people want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Despite his generally self-centered outlook on life, though, he's loyal to people he considers his friends and will risk his life and reputation for them. Additionally, unlike a sociopath, he only seems to break laws when it will either further his skills as a detective or help people.
Myths & Religion
- 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 narcissistic and paranoid.
Having its origins as a form of constant anxiety, this disorder causes people to be afraid of doing anything on their own out of fear of failure and always wanting someone there to help them. When on their own, either through freezing up or lack of training, these people have difficulty functioning. When their emotional crutch is with them, they might be more competent, 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 18 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 that 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 dependent's self-esteem further to make them even more dependent.
Adaptive variations derive huge satisfaction from working as a team. They feel out of their element when having to go it alone but can stand on their own if they have to.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Death Note:
- Misa Amane, who lives and breathes her self-centered "boyfriend" Light to the point she literally wouldn't be able to go on living without him. And so simply doesn't, after his death, killing herself on Valentine's Day.
- Teru Mikami, as well. His blind devotion to Kira and the pursuit of justice is his sole reason for living. When Light sells him out, Mikami's mind breaks completely.
- 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.
- As revealed in chapter 114 of Tokyo Ghoul re Tooru Mutsuki is this as they are bitter ever since Sasaki left the Quinx squad and realize they love them when they see them with Touka. He ends up stabbing Uta (who had taken on Sasaki's face) repeatedly while ordering him to never leave his side again and then undressing from the waist up while sitting atop their mutilated body.
- Caramon Majere from the Dragonlance series relies on his brother to think for him, suffers from low self-esteem due to constant put-downs, seems to have no purpose in life without someone to look after, and falls apart completely when left alone. Learning to be a more adaptive version of this personality type is a major part of his character development.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: In her own arc, Shion Sozonaki. Her psychological dependence on Satoshi drives her villainous actions. In other arcs, she latches onto Satoshi's kid sister Satoko and becomes murderous when Satoko is in danger.
Mother nature creates mental defenses that aren't important for survival. Indeed, sufferers 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.
BPD is sometimes confused with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD (or "complex PTSD, C-PTSD"; DSM-V only has PTSD as diagnosis, there is no separate "C-PTSD" listed there). However PTSD is another condition which is not a personality disorder and has both similar (difficulty with regulating emotions) and different symptoms (i.e. avoidance of relationships / alienation and sustained negative image of self in PTSD vs frantic fear of abandonment, unstable and intense relationships, impulsiveness and inconsistent image of self in BPD). It is also likely that many male sufferers are misdiagnosed with antisocial personality disorder due to the differences in manifestation; female sufferers are typically more self-destructive, with suicide attempts, self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual behavior, and dissociation being common, while male sufferers are typically far more conflict-prone, with aggression, physical violence, stalking and inappropriate contact, and substance abuse being more common than in women.
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" is an Artifact Title from when patients were thought to be borderline schizophrenic (which is actually more a trait of the schizotypal). 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. They derive little satisfaction from this juggling of identities or even personal achievements, given the lack of emotional connection to them; furthermore, they may genuinely not have any idea what they like or enjoy, and they may be skeptical about whether a new interest actually is a new interest or just something they unconsciously picked up from a new focus of attachment. This is often relieved by interpersonal relationships. Note that these can become unstable due to black and white thinking and their quickly shifting moods. The tendency of more self-aware borderlines to continually second-guess and question their perceptions due to their awareness of the realities of splitting make them great targets for gaslighting and other forms of manipulation by abusive partners. They are also prone to nihilism, and have difficulty making and maintaining long-term plans; furthermore, they often see the world as a place full of evil and diabolical and nefarious designs, and events that most people would chalk up as coincidences or due to incompetence or inconsiderate behavior will often be interpreted as deliberate signs that they are hated or that someone wants them to suffer. Even with an understanding of what's going on, few people have the patience for the self-sabotaging nature of BPD, and the often-mercurial moods and idealization/devaluation cycles help contribute to the burned bridges and revolving doors of people that frequently mark their lives. Furthermore, even self-awareness does not guarantee a more stable life; as many sufferers will tell you, having their rational, grounded side scream at them to stop while they find themselves on an irrational, self-destructive tear that they seem to be carrying out on autopilot is a frustratingly frequent phenomenon. The concept of a "favorite person" is also well-known to both sufferers and those close to them; this can be a romantic partner, but it is just as likely to be a friend or family member. In any case, a favorite person is the person who serves as the linchpin of a borderline's emotional health and wellbeing; their approval is typically sought for most life choices and decisions, and their role can generally be summed up as a confidante and advice-provider, just on a far more intense and personal level.
Their moods can be described as mercurial. They can go from happy in the morning to suicidal by lunchtime. 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, alcoholism, 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, and the less self-aware examples may also fulfill the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Contrary to popular culture's depiction (we're looking at you, Fatal Attraction), those with BPD are seldom Ax-Crazy or Consummate Liars; the image of the "classic borderline" who goes through a revolving door of extremely intense relationships that rapidly and messily collapse, regularly alienates friends and family, continually gets into physical altercations, makes extremely rash and ill-conceived life choices that can only end badly, threatens or attempts suicide, and generally lives a self-destructive and conflict-filled existence is sometimes Truth in Television, but it is definitely far from the only presentation, and most sufferers will take offense at people automatically assuming that "borderline" is synonymous with "batshit crazy and destructive". Though they are terrified of abandonment and will take action to avoid it, they're much more likely to do so by hurting themselves to deal with the emotional 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, severe depression, substance abuse, and recent rejection. Any threats of suicide should be taken seriously; even if you suspect that it is manipulative, treat it as if it were legitimate and act accordingly. Penitent/intentional self-deprivation is also a very real issue; if someone with BPD is deliberately starving themselves, refusing medical treatment or deliberately allowing injuries or illnesses to worsen, or otherwise acting in a manner consistent with punishing themselves, you may have to step in as an emergency measure.
Despite all this, 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; dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was created for the exact purpose of treating BPDnote and treatment-compliant patients almost always experience major tangible improvements from DBT. It is often called the "good prognosis diagnosis" because when caught early (ideally in the teens or very early twenties), it is extremely treatable, and it is because of this that the prohibition against diagnosing teenagers with personality disorders has been lifted for BPD; the older the person is, the more likely it is that they have secondary life issues (substance issues, legal trouble, financial woes, and badly strained or irreparably damaged relationships in particular) that complicate treatment. Unfortunately, however, it still carries an extremely strong stigma in psychiatric and emergency medicine as a whole, where "borderline" is still often synonymous with "nightmare patient/lost cause", and there is a decided reluctance among many providers to diagnose people with it due to the very real possibility that the label will create barriers to receiving care (as many programs, particularly substance abuse programs, will either outright refuse to take anyone with that diagnosis or will give them a massive amount of hoops to jump through), reduce the quality of care that they do receive, and result in poor treatment by hospital staff, in addition to the sadly common phenomenon of the diagnosis being used as a punishment for difficult female patients. Like all personality disorders, borderline personality disorder runs on a spectrum; there may be Bob, who has been in and out of jail and various psych wards since he was a teenager, has multiple restraining orders out against him, can't keep a job for more than a few months before he has a meltdown and gets fired, goes through a revolving door of friends and partners, and is still living with his parents into his thirties because he is too unstable to care for himself. But there is also Alice, who may have had a few hospitalizations in her time and several friendships and relationships that have been, but manages to live a productive and happy life with an understanding partner and friends thanks to therapy and medication, whose low points may still be rough, but are more manageable and don't destroy her life.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Mello, of Death Note. He exhibits the black-and-white thinking, impulsiveness, extreme emotional reactions, intense mood swings, and severe inferiority complex associated with this disorder. Additionally, people with BPD often desire closeness, but due to their disorder tend to alienate people more than anything; from what little we see of him during his time at Wammy's House, he's always isolated.
- Lust from the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist. Her fear of a lack of human connections is what motivates her to pursue the Philosopher's Stone and, eventually join the Elrics.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato is often drinking herself stupid or losing herself in sex. Her childhood was not a happy one.
- Misaki from Welcome to the N.H.K.. Her portrayal in the novel and anime already exhibits the necessary symptoms required for diagnosis, but her manga incarnation is much worse. In the manga, she is shown to suffer from all nine symptoms of BPD (the amount needed for diagnosis is five) and is portrayed as even less functional than the incredibly neurotic Sato. Hell, in the manga, her school counselor outright states that she has the disorder.
- 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.
- Akito from Fruits Basket. He/She is utterly dependent on how others perceive them, even though they abuse their family members.
- 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.
- Laura Kinney/X-23 has marked identity disturbances and an unstable sense of self, is impulsive and regularly drawn to inappropriate relationships with others, has frequent and severe dissociative episodes, is chronically suicidal, and regularly self-harms as a means of emotional regulation.
- The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye has the character Whirl. He's definitely a Jerk Ass, but he canonically suffers from self-loathing, mood swings and feelings of isolation, displayed sporadic signs of energon abuse, and is so excessively impulsive that he even managed to get kicked out of the Wreckers. His crewmates find it difficult to take him seriously because he's a constant Deadpan Snarker, or maybe he's not snarking and is serious. He has had multiple Pet the Dog moments and displays The Atoner qualities. And when he picks fights it's with those of equal or greater strength. Finally, he has attempted suicide on more than one occasion, but with varying motives. He's more of a danger to himself than his crewmates.
Films — Live-Action
- Alex Forest from Fatal Attraction is often considered a classic example of the disorder, based on her clinginess and instability. Unfortunately, she is a rather unflattering depiction of someone with the disorder which encourages the stereotype of borderline people as violent stalkers, as well as Always Female. A derogatory name based on a gruesome scene in the movie, "bunny boiler", entered popular culture as a synonym for "crazy and jealous ex-girlfriend".
- 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.
- In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader has been theorized to have this disorder. Psychiatry Research (Vol. 185) 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 about the disorder. Specifically, the researchers pointed out his unstable moods, fear of abandonment, impulsivity, and identity disturbances as key features of BPD and argued he met the criteria to be diagnosed professionally. BPDCentral, however, argues that he has no BPD as he meets only one criteria out of nine.
- The same could be said for Anakin/Vader's grandson, Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens.
- Amanda Young from the Saw films. Her blind devotion to punishing those that she perceives as evil is too intense even for Jigsaw, her mentor.
- Diane Selwyn in Mulholland Dr. exhibits the classic Borderline symptoms of suicidal ideation, intense anger, splitting, chronic feelings of emptiness, and excessive efforts to avoid abandonment.
- David Lynch seems to love this trope. Dorothy Vallens in Blue Velvet and Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me each show enough symptoms to qualify for a diagnosis of BPD.
- 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.
- Heidi from the Australian film Somersault is another realistic version. She has an extreme fear of abandonment and engages in self-destructive behavior.
- Crimson Peak: Lady Lucille Sharpe's sense of self is unstable and what little she has revolves around her brother and their ancestral home. Her moods are extremely volatile, and she flies into rages at the thought of being abandoned.
- The book Girl, Interrupted is based on its author's stay in a mental institution after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
- Millie Roper from Borderline, an urban fantasy novel by Mishell Baker, is a literal example of this trope, given that she is diagnosed with BPD and works in Hollywood.
- In-Universe Andrea speculates that Emily Valentine suffers from BPD on * Beverly Hills, 90210
- Law & Order: 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.
- Dennis Reynolds on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, who has been diagnosed with BPD In-Universe, suffers from severe mood swings, bouts of anorexia, and a self-described feeling of "emptiness".
- Grey's Anatomy Recurring character Rebecca Pope was diagnosed In-Universe.
- 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 Psychiatric 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.
- Taylor Townsend also of The O.C. is a more positive portrayal.
- Cheryl Blossom on Riverdale displays symptoms include extreme fear of abandonment (she completely lost it when her twin brother died and emotionally crumbled), erratic mood swings (she switches from friendly to angry within a short time span), unpredictable bouts of anger (part of what makes her a Mood-Swinger), black and white views of things (she either thinks that someone is the best person who she worships and idealizes but if they disappoint her, she will think they are the worst person ever), chaotic relationships with others (all of her relationships are highly intense especially the one with her twin brother Jason), self destructive behaviors, and suicidal attempt
- Margaret "Marty" Saybrooke One Life to Live by her own admission fears abandonment, pushes people away and engages in self-destructive behavior.
- Rebecca Bunch, the titular Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is eventually diagnosed with BPD In-Universe.
- 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.
- Paintbrush from Inanimate Insanity has some traits in common with the condition. The most prominent is their Hair-Trigger Temper at their teammate's nonsensical behavior, going from friendly and pragmatic to violent and destructive, even going so far as to attack their teammates. They always apologize afterward, however.
- Sarah Lynn from BoJack Horseman fits 8/9 of the criteria for BPD diagnosis, whereas one typically only needs 5/9 for a diagnosis. There's a long dissection on the main page under Ambiguous Disorder (as it's a very Dysfunction Junction show, but no one has ever stated a diagnosis), so feel free to go check that out! But she essentially fits all with the exception of general irrational paranoia. In addition, she's also experienced prolonged trauma in the way many people with BPD do.
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, though they very likely will be angry about it. The only reason they'll stay in somebody's life is that 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 or go out with friends and show off to everybody - even if they do always put themselves first. Antisocials will simply 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. Contrition and remorse are tools for getting what they want and nothing more; if they think or know that they can win their way back into someone's good graces by appearing to want to atone for their actions, they will, only to revert to their old ways the minute that they have succeeded. They take "wolf amongst the flock" narratives to heart; as far as they're concerned, playing by the rules is for fools, and if you are had by them, well, that's your fault for being too stupid and/or naive to see them for what they are. They are also notoriously prone to violent and aggressive behavior and will frequently seek revenge after a setback, and their general inability to experience guilt or appreciate consequences means that they are unlikely to view punishment as anything other than an undeserved injustice, something to bullshit their way out of, or as a score to settle.
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 a 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; more traditional methods of teaching empathy are generally held to be useless with antisocials, as they typically just learn how to be better manipulators, especially when snowing therapists. If treated while young, a sociopath can become very successful, pursuing goals that benefit everybody, albeit for selfish reasons. If untreated, sociopaths can become life-long criminals or otherwise live parasitic, going-nowhere-fast lives that typically involve jumping from provider to provider, bleeding them dry, and eventually getting kicked to the curb, usually with the victim much worse for wear (unwanted children and major financial commitments that the antisocial has neither the ability nor the desire to step up for being common occurrences). Successfully treated examples may still have their urges, but they have taken to heart the idea that while it may be easier to lie, cheat, steal, and mooch their way through life, the only way to live a satisfying existence that isn't ultimately going to end with them in prison, dead, or homeless after running out of couches to dive on and partners to shack up with is to play by the rules.
Antisocial behaviour is theorised to be nature's defence 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. Unlike other Cluster B personality disorders, ASPD has an explicit childhood pathway; conduct disorder is a necessary adolescent prerequisite, and oppositional defiant disorder usually progresses into conduct disorder as the child gets older. Female sufferers also tend to have a lengthy history of running away from home as adolescents, though it should not necessarily be seen as a precursor. As far as gender-based differences are concerned, female sufferers are more likely to have other mental health issues and are also more likely to have repeatedly deceived others, gotten into violent altercations with partners where they were the aggressor, and harassed or blackmailed other parties or made false allegations, while male sufferers are more likely to have substance issues and are also more likely to have made money through illegal means, repeatedly gotten into trouble for road rage incidents or reckless driving, caused property damage (particularly through arson), deliberately hurt animals, and engaged in physically violent behavior with strangers.
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. Like the borderline, they are also often wildly impulsive and have poor judgment, but whereas borderlines typically seek relief from pain or a crippling sense of hollowness, antisocials just want what they want when they want it and fail to consider the consequences; the sky-high rates of substance abuse that stem from their inability to regulate impulses means that ASPD is commonly diagnosed after they have gotten tangled up in the legal system on drug or drug-related (usually theft) charges. Antisocials are sadistic psychopaths trying to survive in a world where everybody else is a sadistic psychopath. It is theorized, however, that ASPD is a common misdiagnosis for male sufferers of borderline personality disorder, and like BPD with female patients, ASPD being a common "punishment" diagnosis for difficult male psych patients is unfortunately a thing and has created a reluctance in many professionals to diagnose people with it because of the very real possibility that it will create major barriers to receiving care and vastly reduce the quality of the care that they do receive. This is because "antisocial" in the psych world is often treated as shorthand for "scumbag", and a diagnosis often will bar or make it inordinately difficult for people to get into many helpful and/or necessary therapy and treatment programs (particularly substance abuse programs).
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.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Beyond Birthday of Death Note. He's a remorseless killer who wants to upstage L.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Solf J. Kimblee. A very high-functioning and affable man who kills without empathy.
- Naruto: Deidara, Hidan and Orochimaru. These three are the most sadistic and cruel characters in the entire series.
- Edward Blake from Watchmen. The man has zero empathy and kills without a second thought.
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- The late Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight. He's open about his evilness and thinks everyone else is just as bad. In regards to authority, he considers himself an agent of chaos ruining The Plan.
- Lisa in Girl, Interrupted is diagnosed with this disorder. She demonstrates the trademark lack of empathy by taking Daisy's money from her corpse.
- 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.
- Norman Stansfield from The Professional. Antisocial, lacks empathy and murders without a shred of remorse.
- Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street. He started out killing animals in childhood, relished his killing of children in adulthood, and continues killing teens in their nightmares. This is clearly shown when he could have stopped killing after all of the Elm Street kids were dead. Considering there were 4 more movies in the franchise, well...
- Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious from Star Wars. He treats everyone like expendable tools, even his closest advisor, starts a galaxy-wide war just so he can seize power, corrupts an innocent child to further his own plans, and constantly stabs people in the back while pretending to be a trusted friend. In fact, every time he seems to genuinely care about another person, it's usually only because he has something to gain from pretending to be their friend.
- Jenner from The Secret Of Nimh. All he cares about is gaining power and doesn't care who he has to kill to gain it.
- Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street. During the course of the movie, he repeatedly lies to con people out of money or get himself out of trouble, with no thought to how his victims will be affected, fails to see other people as something other than a means to an end, and seems to be incapable of learning from his mistakes, even when you think he's hit rock bottom and he can't possibly sink any lower.
- Lucille Sharpe from Crimson Peak had a good excuse for what she did in her childhood, as she did it partially to protect her brother and herself from her abusive parents, but if you listen closely to the echo of her mother's death scene that accompanies her mother's ghost, you can hear a childish giggle before a terrified scream, implying that 14-year-old Lucille giggled before she split her mother's head open with a meat cleaver. She precedes to kill many more people as an adult, and the only death she ever shows remorse for is her brother's.
- Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. Even as a child, he was a skilled liar and actor who simply decided to get better at hiding his true nature from his professors after one of them tried to scare him straight. In the orphanage in which he grew up, he used his magic to scare the other kids, killing one little boy's pet rabbit by hanging it from the rafters and scaring two other children so badly after taking them on a mysterious trip into a cave that they stopped speaking altogether. As an adolescent, he went on to kill his father and grandparents, as an adult, he murdered countless magical and non-magical people, and his defining character moment at the beginning of the books was trying to kill a one-year-old child. Throughout the series, he showed consistent disregard for the rights of others and did not seem to be capable of learning from his mistakes.
- Sherlock Holmes has two 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 were 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
- 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, but unlike other immortals, including Methos, his former brother in arms, failed to change with the times as society around him grew less accepting of violent lifestyles. One of his other 'brothers', Caspian, probably had APD too, but then again, that was the least of his problems.
- Ray from Stalker. He's an abusive, controlling murderer who killed his ex-girlfriend's family, and thinks nothing of kidnapping her friend and killing his partner in crime when he tries to help her escape. Appropriately enough, considering that this is a show in which the detectives have some expertise dealing with people with mental health issues, he was actually diagnosed as a psychopath in-show.
- Yandere Simulator: Ayano Aishi/Yandere-Chan admits that she's never been able to feel emotions in the intro of the game. While she pretends to be normal, she isn't able to feel anything and is unable to relate well with others. The only one able to make her feel anything is Senpai. She'll do anything to make sure no one comes between them, such as spreading rumors, manipulation, blackmailing, kidnapping, psychological torture, or cold-blooded murder.
- Johnny Gat mentions being diagnosed with this in Agents of Mayhem.
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 to 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. They are also unlikely to be diagnosed without a comorbid illness under most circumstances, as histrionics, by their very nature, seldom find themselves in a position where they need professional aid. At worse, they may go through more friends than most people and have a bunch of colleagues who see them as fake and disingenuous, but their lives very seldom have the self-destructive chaos of borderlines, the burned bridges and constant pitting of people against one another of narcissists, or the numerous run-ins with the law and consequences of low-effort, low-reward predatory behavior of antisocials.
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 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.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire has a phobia of growing old and becoming unattractive to men.
- 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 mothers abandonment and fathers 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.
- Ask That Guy with the Glasses is a mix of this and narcissist, as he has a compulsion to fuck anything with or without a hole in it, bemoans that he has no ability to call anyone back, and creams his pants while looking at himself.
- 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.
Western A nimation
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Rarity almost always tries to be the center of attention, she frequently wears clothing inappropriate for the 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.
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 from 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 (because 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
Films — Live-Action
- Parenthood: Nathan's behavior in several scenes up until the third act implies that he may have OCPD. Specifically, Nathan tries to raise his daughter Patty as a Child Prodigy, and at one point, snaps at Susan over wanting another baby after checking the broken diaphragm.
- Sauron from The Lord of the Rings is described as having "loved order and coordination" which led to his desire to rule Middle-Earth.
- The perfectionistic and rule-obsessed Inspector Javert from Les Misérables. The traits he shows: "Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values." Check. "Shows rigidity and stubbornness." Check. "Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion." One of the reasons Jean Valjean keeps escaping him is because Javert insists on having the evidence, so... Check. "Is excessively devoted to work and productivity to the exclusion of leisure activities and friendships." Due to lack of evidence to the contrary, check.
- Monk uses his obsession 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.
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 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.
Avoidant personality disorder can also be very similar to social anxiety disorder (it's a point of contention whether or not social anxiety disorder and avoidant personality disorder should be considered separate disorders or merely varying severities of the same disorder).
See also Safety in Indifference, which is what avoidants' philosophy more or less boils down to, and Sugar-and-Ice Personality, the type of demeanor most avoidants develop. Compare Hikikomori, Shrinking Violet.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- 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.
- No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!: Tomoko Kuroki is too anxious and shy to even speak with her fellow classmates, let alone make friends with them.
Films — Live-Action
- Good Dick: The unnamed female lead credited as "The Woman" shows many features of Avoidant Personality Disorder: hypersensitivity to rejection/criticism, self-imposed social isolation, extreme anxiety in social situations though the person feels a strong desire for close relationships, avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant or painful stimulus, self-loathing, mistrust of others, and emotional distancing related to intimacy. She also shows symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder which is frequently concurrent with Avoidant Personality Disorder.
- 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 is professionally suggested to suffer from this:
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.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Fluttershy is exactly what her name would lead you to believe. Her Establishing Character Moment in the first episode is her being unable to introduce herself to Twilight. She is also known to apologize a lot, prefers the company of non-ponies, and is prone to nervous breakdowns when she knows that others are watching her.
- Pinkie Pie's younger sister Marble Pie is even shyer, sporting Peek-a-Bangs over her eye and never saying anything other than a quiet, meek, "Mm-hmm".
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. Similar to Asexuality, this disorder rarely shows up in the media since it's hard to show a lack of something, though many characters would meet the criteria if they were less ambitious (which pushes them towards antisocial territory), weren't secretly shy (and thus veering more into avoidant territory), 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 lack the interest in the first place, either not enjoying it, finding emotional closeness to be smothering or finding it risky.
On one end, the avoidant and schizoid personality disorders blend into healthy levels of introversion, shyness, and/or asociality; 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. Many schizoids also show a similar Lack of Empathy to those with antisocial personality disorder, although it is accompanied by a passive, disinterested behavioral style rather than an aggressive, motivated one.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Houtarou Oreki from Hyouka. He's an introvert and shows little interest in romantic relations despite being good with conversation and mental games
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rei is quiet and does what she's told without feeling. In contrast to Asuka, she has no desire to do anything.
- Mikazuki Augus from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. He's both incredibly indifferent to most of what goes on around him and prone to sudden violent outbursts if you do manage to get to him. He also seems to outsource all of his moral thinking to Orga, making him look positively psychopathic at times. He'll gun down helpless prisoners and wounded enemy combatants without breaking his usual blandly calm demeanor, as long as it's under Orga's orders.
- Attack on Titan: Levi is emotionally cold and has no external sense of motivation or goals outside of survival. He's essentially discarded any sense of obligation to others and while having a strong sense of value for human life (though at times has been shown to be shockingly sadistic and remorseless), proves to be ineffectual in relationships and distant despite others' attempts to know him. The only exception to Levi's coldness and rejection of intimacy is Erwin Smith, his superior and only trusted friend.
- The eponymous Lain Iwakura from Serial Experiments Lain, mixed in with Schizophrenia due to her visual and auditory hallucinations, loss of perception of time, paranoid delusions, and inappropriate emotional reactions.
- 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 whose 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 a romantic or personal relationship. (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 social life.' He has a massive intellect, knows it, and most likely views others beneath him or of just little to no interest.
- Roose Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Badger from The Wind in the Willows.
- Father -Stone from the Father Ted episode "Entertaining Father Stone."
- Sameen Shaw in Person of Interest has a personality disorder in canon. Exactly which one is not specified (in theory she could have any of the ones listed on this page), and she's often labeled as a sociopath (antisocial), but she better fits the profile of a schizoid, having no real emotions apart from anger (according to her). The show also makes a Running Gag out of her wanting food at inappropriate times, a trait she's had as far back as a childhood car accident that took the life of her father.
"It means when I kill you and your friends, I'm not really gonna feel anything."
- Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation is proudly aloof and rigidly self-sufficient, rarely smiles or laughs, displays little interest in affection to the point of insisting that his friends at work are workplace proximity associates, is regularly baffled or annoyed by people's feelings, prefers solitary hobbies such as camping and woodworking, has idiosyncratic social views, and is extremely secretive. His few anecdotes about his childhood suggest that his parents were also quite distant, which correlates with SPD. He shows other traits common to personality disorders, such as an inconsistent identity (strongly values hard work yet chooses a job where he gives himself a free pass to be as lazy as possible), a history of chaotic romantic relationships, and low tolerance for interpersonal conflict. This is all Played for Laughs and doesn't keep him from looking out for the people he cares about, and by the end of the series he's a little more ambitious and a little less emotionally withdrawn.
- Izuru Minesawa from The Caligula Effect is a stoic loner who almost never shows emotions (beyond snarking). Eventually, he admits to the protagonist that he is mentally ill and describes himself as a malfunctioning robot. Sure enough, the name of his Deep Trauma is "Schizoid Personality".
- Regent from Worm. His seeming indifference to everything, his social awkwardness, and his disinterest in his teammates all suggest he might be schizoid.
- "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."
Unlike the borderline, these people are the true borderline schizophrenics. Like the borderline, they lack a stable sense of self, but while a borderline is more likely to feel like a hollow collector of personalities and passions that they lifted from other people, a schizotypal instead feels like a presence that occupies a human body, but isn't really human; nonetheless, the two disorders are often comorbid. 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, possibly not even making it anywhere at all. They often feel as if the body and mind are separate from themselves and have surreal experiences where random thoughts pop up, resulting in their making bizarre connections between things. They can go into Nightmare Fuel territory in their imaginations as at times bizarre images (often violent or sexual) will seem to pass in front of the mind's eye, almost like watching a movie. Like in many delusional disorders, pattern perception and recognition is a very common feature, and while higher-functioning examples are usually able to stay cognizant of reality, many lower-functioning sufferers can veer dangerously close to full-blown psychosis. 
Their speech pattern exhibits a Continuity Lock-Out with reality through the use of Vagueness Is Coming and Rule of Symbolism, though they may seem inordinately detached or unenthusiastic due to flat affect. This is believed to reflect a similar Magic Realism style perception of the world. Their appearance is often idiosyncratic at best and visibly disheveled and unkempt at worst (often with similarly poor hygiene), and people who interact with them frequently find them unapproachable, cold, aloof, and often creepy.
Variations exist where schizotypal eccentricities can be explained by avoidant nervousness or schizoid emptiness.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Azumanga Daioh: Osaka provides the anime page image for Cloudcuckoolander because of her spaciness and odd strains of thought.
- Setsuna F. Seiei of Mobile Suit Gundam 00. He's extremely socially inept and rather abrasive, believes himself to actually be a Gundam, a term which he associates with a means of ending war instead of the actual Humongous Mecha, acts like the protagonist of a Super Robot series with an obsession with dishing out justice, rarely ever emotes (the amount of times he smiles can be counted on one hand), and has very few close relationships.
- Overlapping with real life, Season 2 of Serial reveals that Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who ran off his base in Afghanistan only to be captured by the Taliban and held in captivity for five years until the government negotiated his release in exchange for five Taliban prisoners, had been professionally diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. The show posits that Bergdahl's decision to run off was at least partially actuated by his condition, as the eccentric beliefs characteristic of STPD in his case took the form of an unrealistically stringent warrior code, and his decision to leave his base was his way of bringing it to the higher-ups' attention that his unit wasn't living up to the standards he thought the Army was supposed to follow.
- Henry Townshend from Silent Hill 4 seems to be a combination of this and avoidant personality disorder. He is extremely introverted, is known by his neighbors only in passing or as a stranger, emotes only a handful of times over the course of the game and has poor methods of relating to others. He also has an odd and lackluster way of describing things that omits important details, indicative of poor attentiveness and an inability to convey information (or difficulty in discerning what is and isn't relevant to a given situation).
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 psyche. 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.
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.)
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- 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.
- In Doctor Who, the incarnation of the Master played by Roger Delgado has a great amount of obvious and genuine affection for the Doctor, but still is obsessed with the idea of torturing him, dominating him and forcing him to see the destruction of everything he loves. He often operates by conniving his way into positions of formal authority for the sheer pleasure of controlling underlings, and at one point ("Colony in Space") even gloats to the Doctor about his ability to do this. His insecurity is constantly implied - he comes up with self-defeating over-complicated plans apparently in hope of impressing others, and in one episode ("The Mind of Evil") it's shown that his worst fear is the Doctor mocking him.
- 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.
- The Fairly OddParents!: Vicky is a sixteen-year-old babysitter that loves to exploit parents (or anyone, for that matter) for money and torment the children she's looking after, saving a particularly sadistic interest in tormenting the ten-year-old protagonist, Timmy Turner.
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.
Examples from various media
Anime & Manga
- Most of the odd characters in Death Note show symptoms of personality disorders, though sometimes it's less clear and more of an Ambiguous Disorder.
- The homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist are stated to be personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins, though some of their personalities have enough depth to be closer to severely disordered people.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion. The show is an intentional Deconstruction of the implications of having exceptional child soldiers pilot Giant Mecha. At first, the pilots are simply quirky, but the depth of their problems is revealed over the course of the series.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Sayaka and Homura both show signs of personality disorders (Borderline for Sayaka and Avoidant or Schizoid depending on the timeline for Homura). Madoka shows some symptoms of Dependent. If their barriers are anything to go by, some of the witches may have had personality disorders as humans.
- Youjo Senki: Before being reincarnated into Tanya, the main character claimed to have "every complex known to man". Considering he held a pretty high position through nothing but hard work in a very competitive environment through Japan's Lost Decade, he has some credibility to this claim.
- The Mental Diagnosis Answering Machine:
If you are Obsessive Compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.
If you are Co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.
If you have Multiple Personalities, press 3, 4, 5 & 6.
If you are Depressed it doesn't matter which number you press, no one will answer you.
If you are Paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.
If you are Delusional, press 7, and you call will be transferred to the Mother Ship.
If you are Schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are Dyslexic, press 96969696969696.
If you have a Nervous Disorder, please fidget with the hash key until a representative comes on the line.
If you have Amnesia, press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number and your mother's and grandmothers' maiden names.
If you have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, slowly and carefully press 000.
If you have Bi-polar Disorder, please leave a message after the beep. Or before the beep. Or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.
If you have Short Term Memory Loss, please try your call again later.
If you have Low Self-Esteem, please hang up. All our operators are far too busy to talk to you.
- Most of characters in the books written by Fyodor Dostoevsky suffer from different disorders. He was not called "Mad Russian" without a reason.
- Lost is known for its fantastic and Sci-Fi elements resulting in Mind Screw, but the crux of the series is characters and their issues interacting with each other and the strange environment.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper shows signs of various personality disorders at any given time based on Rule of Funny.
- Superego is about a group of people trapped inside a hospital, each with a tattoo on their hands of a number which corresponds to their personality disorder as listed in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). So far, every character is archetypal of their respective disorder.