What is personality?

Personality is the distinctive personal characteristic of a person that identifies a unique recognizable individual. It includes one’s mental and behavioral characteristics, which are determined by inherited (genetic) patterns and developed by continuing interaction with outside life influences. This includes family interactions, peer pressure, and influential events plus personal drives.

What is a personality disorder?

 A person can be said to have a personality disorder if his or her behavior pattern does not adapt in an appropriate way to social conventions. This results in impaired social interaction and often leads to unhappiness and occupational failure. One characteristic is a consistent failure to adhere to accepted standards of behavior, upsetting people who come into close contact with them. The disorder comes on in adolescence or early adulthood. 

There are a whole variety of personality disorders, which can be classified as follows:

  • Withdrawn (referred to as odd or eccentric): Subtypes include paranoid and schizoid. Characteristics are suspicious, oversensitive, shy, detached, defensive, emotionally cold, humorless, and argumentative. 
  • Dependent (referred to as anxious, fearful, and inhibited): Subtypes include avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, and passive aggressive. Features are anxiety, self-consciousness, low self-esteem, passivity, avoidance of responsibility, indecisiveness, pedantry, procrastination, rigidity, fear of rejection and of failure. 
  • Antisocial (often referred to as sociopathic or psychopathic): See subtypes below. The main feature is a defective capacity for affection or feeling for others. Tend to be irresponsible, unable to hold down jobs, and not capable of forming satisfactory relationships.

What are the features and types of antisocial personality disorder? 

A sociopathic person is by nature incapable of conforming to the restraints of the outside world. The antisocial group tends to come to the attention of doctors more frequently because of demanding, manipulative, angry or aggressive behavior. Although some sociopaths adapt and achieve success, most are inadequately adapted people who bumble along unhappily. Sadly, many upset the social norms, as they become disturbed when frustrated and regularly break the rules of society. They become well-known to the police and spend time in prison or under the care of the state. The estimated incidence of antisocial personality disorder is about 5 in 100 people. 

The following are identifiable subtypes: 

  • Antisocial (‘mad dog’): Unable to conform to social norms, impulsive, insensitive, callous, repeated criminal behavior, reckless behavior, liar, low frustration level, repeated physical fights or assaults, lack of remorse, promiscuous, usually starts in teens.
  • Histrionic (hysterical): Self-dramatic, egocentric, immature, vain, dependent, manipulative, easily bored, emotional scenes, inconsiderate, seductive, craves attention and excitement. 
  • Narcissistic (‘prima donna’): Exhibitionist, morbid self-admiration, insensitive, craves and demands attention, exploits others, preoccupied with self-importance and power, lacks empathy and interest in others, bullying, no insight, arrogant and haughty attitudes. 
  • Borderline (‘hell raiser’): Confused self-image, impulsive, ‘all or nothing relationships—unstable and intense, damaging reckless behavior (e.g. driving), drug abuse, full of anger and guilt, lacks self-control, possible uncontrolled gambling or spending or sexual activity. Intense outbursts of anger, anxiety, and depression. This group engages in frantic efforts to avoid abandonment and has a high incidence of suicide and apparent attempted suicide.

What can be done for an antisocial personality disorder? 

People with this unfortunate disorder need help. Because they tend to upset people and alienate friends and many others, they have difficulty finding support and treatment. The best treatment is from a supportive ‘therapeutic’ community and understanding and supportive professionals, particularly their Counsellors and Psychiatrists. Their families and other carers also need support and education. These people may respond well to psychological intervention and behavioral techniques. 

These include:

  • Psychotherapy—especially cognitive behavior therapy, which provides insight and various ways of coping.
  • Psychosocial Rehabilitation—helping to learn acceptable social skills. Medication has limitations but is most useful to treat those individuals who develop an anxiety state, depression, or psychosis.


  • Richard Carlson, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Hyperion, NewYork, 1997. 
  • Ainslie Meares, Life Without Stress, Penguin Books, Melbourne, 1991. 
  • Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Living, Vermilion, London, 1996.

Disclaimer: All contents on this site are for general information and in no circumstances information be substituted for professional advice from the relevant healthcare professional, Writer does not take responsibility of any damage done by the misuse or use of the information.