Scientific American presents House Call Doctor by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

More likely than not, you have had to deal with someone who just seemed a little “off” at some point in your life. Maybe a frustrating coworker who makes everyone’s lives miserable? Or an estranged family member who is often considered the “black sheep” that no one can really handle being around? Did you ever wonder if there was something actually wrong with that person, but you just couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was? 

Believe it or not, “personality disorders” are actual clinical disorders. And more than likely, someone you know suffers from one. Let’s learn about them so we can best acquaint ourselves with how to handle those people in our lives.

What is a Personality Disorder?

Believe it or not, up to 15% of people have at least one clinical personality disorder. Clinical personality disorders need to meet the following criteria for diagnosis:

• The pattern of behavior is inflexible/unchangeable.
• The pattern of behavior is pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations (for instance, it’s not only at work or only at home).
• The pattern of behavior leads to significant distress and/or decrease in social or occupational functioning.
• The behavior often begins in adolescence.


Continue reading on