Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Definitions of personality disorder

Personality disorder is a clinical construct used to describe various clusters of human behaviour and experience that are generally regarded as functionally impaired or psychologically distressing, and that arise from inflexible and maladaptive personality traits. It should be noted that personality disorders are descriptions of a narrow section of generally recognizable personalities that are of interest to clinicians. As such they do not describe personality in general.


As will be highlighted the concept of ‘psychopathy’ is currently confused. In England and Wales psychopathic disorder is a legal classification of mental disorder within the Mental Health Act (1983). Currently, however, psychopathy, or psychopathic (personality) disorder is not classified within either major diagnostic system, DSM-IV or ICD-10, as a mental disorder. The legal position of psychopathic disorder, its assessment, identification and treatment is discussed later

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