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Patterns in Personality Disorders


Explanations > Personality > Personality Disorders > Patterns in Personality Disorders

Common factors | Overall pattern | See also


There are some interesting patterns that can be distinguished in personality disorders, as describe in this article.

Common factors

Here is an assessment of common factors across the ten personality disorders. The number of X's indicate the strength of apparent correlation.





Self-focus Dislikes
Poor empathy/ care Manip-ulative Poor relation-ships Poor self-control Success at work
Paranoid XX XXX XXX   XXX    
Schizoid XX       X   XX
Schizotypal     X   XXX XX  
Antisocial XXX XXX XXX XXX XX XX  
Borderline XX XXX       XXX  
Histrionic   XXX   XXX XX XX  
Narcissistic XXX XXX XXX XXX XX   XX
Avoidant   XXX XX   XXX   XX
Dependent XX XXX   XX XX   X
Obsessive-Compulsive X   XX   XX   XXX



There is a common excessive focus on the self, above others. This may be positive self-regard that leads to selfishness, or negative self-regard that leads to introspection. This may be exacerbated by little regards for others.

Dislikes criticism

The self-focus, whether negative or positive, and general assumption of negativity in the comments of others leads to an inability to accept criticism in a positive light. All criticism is hence seen as harsh attack.

Poor empathy/care

There is a lack of understanding or care for others. This may be influence by excessive concern for the self or simply an inability to connect with others. This can lead to objectification, where other people are seen as 'things' that can be abused without conscience.


Some disorders lead to cynical manipulation and use of others for one's own benefit. This is exacerbated by low empathy and a general lack of concern for others.

Poor relationships

Many disorders result in limited or dysfunctional relationships. This is either because the person is unable to connect with others or that they have expectations of the relationship that is not acceptable to the other person.

Poor self-control

Emotional outbursts are common, which can be very alarming for others and which will negatively affect relationships.

Success at work

Some disorders can lead to particular success at work whilst others are either damaging or less effective.


Overall pattern

As seen above, there is a general pattern where people have either a strong or weak self-image that leads to an increased focus on themselves. This gives them less focus on others, which either means they understand others less or just do not care for others. This affects the way they interact with others, which may simply be to avoid interaction or otherwise trying to manipulate people in some way. When others realize this, they back off and the relationship fails. This completes the circle, further isolating the person and making them focus on themselves even more.

This is of course a generalization and is by no means true in all disorders, yet it seems common enough to be worthy of note.

See also



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