Personality Styles and Personality Disorders


Your personality is the distinctive pattern of your psychological functioning–the way you think, feel, and behave–that makes you definitely you. The New Personality Self-Portrait 25 delineates 14 personality styles which, in each person’s unique combination, shape the manner in which you endeavor to lead a productive and satisfying life, adapt to change, and solve problems.

The Styles

The 22-page Interpretation Guide you receive with your test results describes each of these styles at length and shows how it shapes your functioning in key domains of your life. Here are capsule descriptions, in the order in which they are presented on your Self-Portrait graph, which reveal the extent of each style in your overall pattern. Click here for examples of how the styles combine in a person’s life story.

 

Vigilant

Independent, cautious, perceptive, defensive, reactive to criticism, loyal.

Solitary

Comfortable alone, independent, unsentimental, stoic, self-contained.

Idiosyncratic

Unconventional, spiritual, speculative, inner-directed, original, different.

Adventurous

Nonconforming, risk-loving, self-reliant, persuasive, courageous, spontaneous, on the move, unworried.

Mercurial

Intense, passionate, reactive, romantic, impulsive, creative, imaginative, demanding, needy, changeable.

Dramatic

Emotional, colorful, attentive, attractive, seductive, trusting, intuitive, spontaneous, imaginative.

Self-Confident

Self-assured, entitled, ambitious, political, competitive, successful, poised, charming.

Sensitive

Reserved, discreet, concerned about expectations, comfortable with routine and familiarity, self-controlled, spontaneous when secure.

Devoted

Deeply attached and committed, deferential, considerate, cooperative, polite, preferring membership to leadership.

Conscientious

Hard-working, detail-oriented, persevering, invested in rightness, perfectionist, prudent, order-loving, intellectual.

Leisurely

Independent, easygoing, pleasure-seeking, resistant to demands, self-accepting, stubborn, family-oriented.

Aggressive

Comfortable with power, hierarchical, responsible, disciplined, goal-directed, brave, physically active and assertive.

Self-Sacrificing

Generous, deferential, altruistic, nonjudgmental, humble, long-suffering, naive.

Serious

Sober, unpretentious, accountable, responsible, ruminative, prepared for all consequences, dependable, contrite.

 


The Continuum of Styles and Disorders: Flexibility to Rigidity

The Personality Style-Personality Disorder Continuum

Style Disorder
Conscientious Obsessive-Compulsive
Self-Confident Narcissistic
Dramatic Histrionic
Vigilant Paranoid
Mercurial Borderline
Devoted Dependent
Solitary Schizoid
Leisurely Passive-Aggressive
Sensitive Avoidant
Idiosyncratic Schizotypal
Adventurous Antisocial
Self-Sacrificing Self-Defeating
Aggressive Sadistic
Serious Depressive

Styles are your built-in roadmap for coping with life’s challenges. Personality styles are flexible; they can change, though usually not without effort and motivation. This adaptability makes a variety of life experiences and outcomes possible.

People suffering from personality disorders, however, commonly find themselves locked into rigid and inflexible life trajectories. They may feel bored, empty, lonely, or angry, and they may be in disruptive relationships. These patterns may persist throughout their lives.

Personality is dimensional: as with height or weight, people come in all shapes and sizes and personality variations. What’s the difference between self-confidence and self-aggrandizement? Between liking to do things well and demanding perfection? Somewhere along a continuum, personality traits range from adaptable to rigid and extreme. That, as we see it, is the difference between personality style and personality disorder. For more about where the lines are drawn between styles and disorders, click here.


The Disorders

Defined by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), personality disorders are categories of personality disturbance that mental health professionals study, diagnose and treat.

The current edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual (DSM-5) defines 10 personality disorders. On the Continuum, shown above, we include these 10 disorders plus four more specific disorders, which were included in previous editions of the diagnostic manual for further study.

All of the following personality disorders result in significant distress or impairment for those who have these conditions, and often for those around them as well. While those who suffer from a personality disorder usually recognize that they have problems in life, they may believe that others are responsible. Some feel that they do not need to change, and others feel that they cannot change.

We do not, as mentioned, address personality disorders in the NPSP25. In our book, though, we conclude each style chapter with a discussion of the corresponding disorder. Here, in brief, are characteristic traits and behaviors that may combine in each disorder.

Paranoid

Suspicious of others’ intentions, actions, loyalty, or fidelity; likely to interpret mundane remarks as threatening or demeaning; unforgiving and grudge-bearing; angrily reactive to perceived criticism and likely to attack back.

Solitary

Detached from relationships and preferring to be alone; nonsexual; seemingly indifferent to praise or criticism; cold, detached, lacking in emotion; taking little pleasure in activities.

Schizotypal

Odd or peculiar in thinking, appearance, speech, and emotional expression; suspicious of others; lacking in relationships; often certain that mundane happenings have special relevance; socially anxious to an extreme.

Antisocial

Lying and deceitful; unable or unwilling to conform to social norms; impulsive; irritable and aggressive; irresponsible; indifferent to others’ suffering.

Borderline

Extremely fearful of abandonment; prone to intense and unstable relationships; unsure of who they are or where they are going in life; recklessly impulsive; highly changeable emotionally; prone to feeling empty.

Histrionic

Seek attention and suffer if not the center of it; highly invested in physical appearance and provocative sexuality; extremely suggestible; emotionally dramatic and theatrical; likely to believe relationships are more intimate than they are.

Narcissistic

Grandiose and preoccupied with being the most, the best, the ideal; requiring excessive admiration; enormously entitled; exploitative of others; lacking in empathy; envious of others or certain that others are envious of them; arrogant and haughty.

Avoidant

Hypersensitive to negative evaluation; unwilling to get involved unless certain of approval; interpersonally inhibited; excessively averse to risks for fear of embarrassment; feel inferior and unappealing.

Dependent

Over-reliant on others for advice, reassurance, and nurturance; unable to express disagreement with others; lacking in confidence to initiate projects or activities or make day-to-day decisions; likely to go to excessive lengths to seek support or approval; preoccupied with fears of being left alone.

Obsessive-Compulsive

Preoccupied with rules and details; perfectionistic to an extreme, becoming unable complete important tasks on time; excessively devoted to work, with great cost to other life domains; morally inflexible; stubborn and rigid; unable to allow others freedom to complete tasks their own way.

Passive-Aggressive

Indirectly resist obligations by procrastinating, “forgetting,” or being stubborn; sullen and argumentative; scornful of authority; commonly feel unappreciated and misunderstood; envious and resentful of others who are better off; alternately defiant and contrite.

Sadistic

Cruel, violent, or demeaning in order to dominate; harshly disciplinary and intimidating; take pleasure in suffering of others; controlling in close relationships; preoccupied with weapons, violence, and torture.

Self-Defeating

Prone to relationships and situations offering disappointment and failure; unlikely to accept help; likely to feel guilty or depressed after a success; reluctant to enjoy or acknowledge pleasure; despite abilities, often fail; make sacrifices for others who do not want them.

Depressive

Characteristically joyless and dejected; critical of self and others; brooding, worried, and pessimistic; likely to feel inadequate, worthless, and guilty.


Final Reminders

  1. The New Personality Self-Portrait 25 does not diagnose personality disorders.
  2. No matter how high you score on any of the 14 dimensions of style, your results do not indicate or predict personality disorder.
  3. Although very high scores on any of the styles may suggest greater experiences of both the advantages and discomforts of that style, there are diagnostic tests for personality disorder and this is NOT one of them.
  4. If you think you or someone you are close to suffers from a disorder, seek mental health evaluation.
  5. For more information about both personality styles and personality disorders, please refer to the book, The New Personality Self-Portrait.
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