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Personality Disorder

Personality disorders consist of a chronic pattern of thinking and behaving that is inflexible, dysfunctional, and may be detrimental to the student and to relationships. The symptoms of personality disorders vary depending on the specific type of disorder, but almost all students with personality disorders have difficulty dealing with everyday stresses and may have dysfunctional interactions with others.
Personality disorders, according to the American Psychological Association, are characterized by an "enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it". These behaviors frequently lead to distress in life or impairment of the ability to go about routine functions at work, school or social situations. In some cases, students with personality disorders may not realize that they have a personality disorder because their way of thinking and behaving seems natural to them, and they may blame others for their circumstances.

Observing Personality Disorder in the Classroom

Faculty may observe the following for students with personality disorders:

  • Irrational suspicion, distrust of others
  • Rigid patterns of thinking
  • Attention-seeking behavior
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Students might seem uninterested in relationships, aloof, or distrustful of others
  • Student might make grandiose claims
  • Student might be argumentative or defensive
  • May tend to blame failure or disappointment on others
  • Constant need to seek approval from others
  • Self-centeredness or a need to be the center of attention
  • May be overly sensitive to criticism
  • Low tolerance for delayed gratification or frustration
  • Impulsiveness


Related Functional Characteristics

Anxiety : Students with personality disorders may exhibit anxiety due to their unrealistic perceptions of themselves or other people and the resulting conflict from dysfunctional interactions with others.

Distracting Behavior : As students with personality disorder have difficulty monitoring their behavior and comprehending social cues, their behavior can often be distracting to others.

Inability to Comprehend Social Cues : Impaired self-reflection is a defining characteristic of personality disorders as they always involve misperceptions of self or others. Students with personality disorders may have difficulty monitoring their own behavior or the behavior of others. They may be unable to regulate their social interactions, have difficulty maintaining a conversation, and be unaware of the importance of proximity.

Obsessive Behavior : Students with personality disorder are often hypervigilant and inflexible in their behavior.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.