Personality disorders are quite complex. Many occur concurrently with each other. For example, Borderline, Histrionic, and Narcissistic disorders frequently occur coincidentally with Anti-Social personality disorder.

Mood disorders — like depression, anxiety, cyclothymia, obsessive-compulsive, manic-depression, ADD, and bi-polar spectrums — are not the same as personality disorders. While little can be done to “fix” personality disorders, much can be done to help dissipate and improve those struggling with mood disorders. Mood disorders are most often brain chemistry problems which respond quite well to medication.

Now, it is time for a disclaimer. I am not a counselor, psychologist, medical doctor or psychiatrist. Nevertheless, I speak from a perspective of over 40 years of pastor experience, years of study, and counseling scores of families with one or more members who are dealing with personality disorders. I consider myself a tyro in mental health issues; nevertheless, I hope I can give some helpful insights in these areas.

Let me share a simple description of each of the ten personality disorders. More complete descriptions can, of course, be found easily on the internet for those who are interested.

The first four (narcissistic, borderline, antisocial and histrionic) are, in my experience, completely incompatible with happy, successful marriages. The next six (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, avoidant, dependant, and obsessive-compulsive) aren’t much better in achieving healthy marriages.

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are self-absorbed to the exclusion of all others. They “suck the life” out of all who befriend them. Their relationships are impaired due to their disregard for, and their inability to care for, the needs and sensitivities of others.

People with Borderline (or Emotionally Unstable) Personality Disorders struggle with impulsive actions, rapidly shifting moods, and chaotic relationships. They go from one emotional crisis to another. They often threaten suicide and approximately 8%-10% of these individuals succeed. Self-mutilating acts like cutting or burning are not uncommon.

People with Antisocial Personality Disorders have no sense of right and wrong. They can do dastardly things to the people associated with them without feeling remorse. They have an increased risk of dying prematurely by violent means like suicide, accidents, and homicide. They are irresponsible parents, often homeless, and frequently imprisoned.

People with Histrionic Personality Disorders are incredibly emotional and attention seeking. Their emotions may soar ten to fifteen times above or below normal. Their rollercoaster, up and down lives wear down the people around them. They seek to control through emotional manipulation. They can be incredibly seductive — especially toward people of authority (like pastors) who become their “conquests” or “trophies.” Their sexually provocative behavior is offensive and inappropriate. These individuals often make suicidal threats to coerce more attention and better care.

People with Paranoid Personality Disorders interpret the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning. They are untrusting, unforgiving, and prone to angry or aggressive outbursts without justification because they perceive others to be unfaithful, or deceitful. They tend to be jealous, secretive, scheming, and emotionally “cold.”

People with Schizoid Personality Disorders are introverted, withdrawn, solitary, emotionally cold, and distant. They are often absorbed with their own thoughts and feelings and are fearful of closeness and intimacy with others.

People with Schizotypal Personality Disorders have eccentric manners of speaking or dressing. Strange, outlandish, paranoid beliefs and thoughts are common. They have difficulty forming relationships and experience extreme anxiety in social situations. They tend to react inappropriately or not at all during conversations. They may talk to themselves and often have delusions that they can see into the future or read other’s minds.