In life, we have tendencies where we become self-conscious, introverted, shy or even paranoid. However, there comes a time when these traits affect individuals to the point where it dictates their decision-making processes, if not completely undermining their ability to survive in social settings. Personality traits are formed by early adulthood, persist throughout life and affect every aspect of day to day behavior. Individuals with personality disorders often blame others for their problems.
General diagnostic criteria for a Personality Disorder
A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. This pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas:
(1) cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people, and events)
(2) affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, lability, and appropriateness of emotional response)
(3) interpersonal functioning
(4) impulse control
B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.
C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. The pattern is stable and of long duration and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.
E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.
F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma).
Those are the basic criteria defining a personality disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association. The first disorder to be explored is classified as a cluster A and it is known as "Paranoid Personality Disorder". Some of the major traits of this disorder include:
Diagnostic criteria for 301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder
A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
(1) suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
(2) is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
(3) is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
(4) reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
(5) persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
(6) perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
(7) has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
I believe that these personality traits are interesting and can shed light on certain individuals, though I know no one who suffers from any personality disorders. While it is true that people may have one or two of the traits above, people need to have at least four of the traits to be classified as a sufferer of a personality disorder. I read from another psychiatric journal that the burden used to be only 3 of the 7 traits are needed to be considered having a personality disorder. I guess lawsuits and misdiagnosis have helped the APA raised their standards and due to the fact that it is quite serious to diagnose individuals for having these disorders.