A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of experience and behavior that differs greatly from the expectations of the individual' s culture (DSM-IV). As discussed in Chapter 3, traits are patterns of experiencing, thinking about, and interacting with oneself and the world. Traits are observed in a wide range of social and personal situations. For example, a person who is high on conscientiousness is hardworking and persevering. If a trait becomes maladaptive and inflexible an causes significant impairment or distress, then it is considered to be a personalit disorder. For example, if someone were so conscientious that he or she checked the locks on the door 10 times each night and checked every appliance in the house 5 times before leaving in the morning, then we might consider the possibility of a disorder.
The essential features of a personality disorder , according to the American Psychiatric Association (1994), are presented in Table 19.1. A personality disorder is usually manifest in more than one of the following areas: in how people think, in how they feel, in how they get along with others, or in their ability to control their own behavior. The pattern is rigid and is displayed across a variety of situations, leading to distress or problems in important areas in life, such as at work or in relationships.
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