General Criteria for a Personality Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) defines general criteria for a personality disorder. The definitions in the current 4th edition (DSM-IV) and the new forthcoming 5th edition (DSM-V) differ slightly as follows:

DSM General Criteria for a Personality Disorder

A. An enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior the deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture. This pattern is manifested in two (or more) of the following areas:

  1. Cognition (i.e., ways of perceiving and interpreting self, other people and events)
  2. Affectivity (i.e., the range, intensity, liability, and appropriateness of emotional response)
  3. Interpersonal functioning
  4. Impulse control

B. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations.

C. The enduring pattern leads to clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back at least to adolescence or early adulthood.

E. The enduring pattern is not better accounted for as a manifestation or consequence of another mental disorder.

F. The enduring pattern is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., head trauma).