What Are Personality Disorders?

Have you ever wondered if your coworker or estranged family member could possibly be suffering from a clinical personality disorder? Why are they so difficult to deal with? Learn about the 3 categories of personality disorders.

Sanaz Majd, MD
4-minute read
Episode #108

What are personality disorders?More likely than not, you have had to deal with someone who just seemed a little “off” at some point in your life. Maybe a frustrating coworker who makes everyone’s lives miserable? Or an estranged family member who is often considered the “black sheep” that no one can really handle being around? Did you ever wonder if there was something actually wrong with that person, but you just couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was? 

Believe it or not, “personality disorders” are actual clinical disorders. And more than likely, someone you know suffers from one. Let’s learn about them so we can best acquaint ourselves with how to handle those people in our lives.

What is a Personality Disorder?

Believe it or not, up to 15% of people have at least one clinical personality disorder. Clinical personality disorders need to meet the following criteria for diagnosis:

  1. The pattern of behavior is inflexible/unchangeable.

  2. The pattern of behavior is pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations (for instance, it’s not only at work or only at home).

  3. The pattern of behavior leads to significant distress and/or decrease in social or occupational functioning.

  4. The behavior often begins in adolescence.

Types of Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are divided into three categories or clusters:


Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.