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Personality Disorder (for Professionals)

What is personality disorder?

The World Health Organisation gives the following definition:

Personality disorder is characterized by problems in functioning of aspects of the self (e.g., identity, self-worth, accuracy of self-view, self-direction), and/or interpersonal dysfunction (e.g., ability to develop and maintain close and mutually satisfying relationships, ability to understand others’ perspectives and to manage conflict in relationships) that have persisted over an extended period of time (e.g., 2 years or more). The disturbance is manifest in patterns of cognition, emotional experience, emotional expression, and behaviour that are maladaptive (e.g., inflexible or poorly regulated) and is manifest across a range of personal and social situations (i.e., is not limited to specific relationships or social roles). The patterns of behaviour characterizing the disturbance are not developmentally appropriate and cannot be explained primarily by social or cultural factors, including socio-political conflict. The disturbance is associated with substantial distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.


There are increasing indications, reflected in the psychiatric diagnostic manuals, that there is a continuum of personality related difficulties across the population.

NICE Personality Disorder guidelines

NICE have published guidelines for the care and treatment of individuals with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and Anti-social Personality Disorder.

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