Personality

• obsessive-compulsive disorder

• schizoid personality disorder

• schizotypal personality disorder

Personality is a term used to describe long-standing patterns of thinking, behaving, and feeling. A group of traits which are consistently displayed are considered to be part of a person's personality. A person's mood, for example, is considered to be a more fleeting expression of one's overall personality. Personality comprises traits, attitudes, behaviors, and coping styles which develop throughout childhood and adolescence. Developmental theorist Erik Erikson (1902-1981) proposed that personality unfolds over the entire life cycle according to a predetermined plan. Personality can be thought of as a relatively consistent style of relating to others and the environment, developing as a result of genetic and environmental influences. Psychologists have developed several theories to explain personality development. Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) believed that personality development originates in early childhood. Freud proposed that personality emerges as a result of unconscious conflicts between unacceptable aggressive and hedonistic instincts and societal mores. According to Freud, unresolved unconscious conflicts from childhood later influence personality development. In contrast to Freud's psychoanalytic theories about personality, other researchers focused on specific traits as the building blocks of personality development. Many classification systems have been developed in an attempt to organize and categorize personality traits and styles. The Big Five system proposes that five basic trait dimensions underlie personality structure: extroversion versus introversion, agreeableness versus disagreeable-ness, conscientiousness versus impulsiveness, emotional stability versus neu-

roticism, and openness to experience versus rigidity. Personality disorders may reflect extreme variants of these basic personality dimensions.

The personality disorders are a group of psychological disorders characterized by inflexible and maladaptive patterns of relating to others that result in impairments in day-to-day functioning. The personality disorders are reflected by personality traits which are significantly extreme or exaggerated, making it difficult to establish functional relationships with others. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR (rev. 4th ed., 2000), the personality disorders are defined by an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior which is consistently dysfunctional and creates impairment in functioning. Symptoms of personality disorders are usually evident by early adulthood, coinciding with the developmental period when personality patterns have become established in most people. The DSM-IV-TR identifies ten major personality disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The personality disorders are broken down into three groups, or clusters, based upon similar symptomatology.

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