Personality Disorders

This information is useful for adults and older adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We offer an intensive outpatient psychiatry program that develop effective behavioral interventions.
  • Our clinicians and staff are trained to provide caring support.
  • Treatment options are based on the latest psychiatry and neurobiology research.

People who meet the criteria for personality disorders tend to show extreme and/or rigid personality traits. This behavior can lead to difficulties in social and work settings, as well as within interpersonal relationships. Personality disorder was once thought of as a problem that would define a person for life. However, current research reveals that it may be a condition that can improve with specific treatment. “If an individual meets the criteria for one personality disorder, and you assess them carefully, they often meet criteria for as many as four personality disorders,” says Seth Axelrod, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

Researchers and clinicians are still finding the best methods to categorize and diagnose personality disorders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) currently divides personality disorders into three distinct "clusters."  

  • Paranoid, schizoid, or schizotypal. These personality disorders include a range of odd thinking, including high suspicion of others, little or no emotions, and magical thinking. 
  • Antisocial, borderline, histrionic, or narcissistic. These personalities can be summarized as unpredictable thinking, impulsivity, paranoia, and an exaggeration of one’s abilities. 
  • Avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive. All three of these personality disorders revolve around severe social anxiety and difficulty with interpersonal relationships.