Top 100 Traits of the Disordered

Top 100 Traits of Personality-Disordered Individuals

Borrowed from:

Every relationship between a Personality-Disordered Individual and a Non Personality-Disordered Individual is as unique as the DNA of the people involved. Nevertheless, there are some common behavior patterns.

The list below contains descriptions of some of the more common traits of people who suffer from personality disorders, as observed by family members and partners. Examples are given of each trait, with descriptions of what it feels like to be caught in the crossfire and some good (and bad) ideas for coping.

Please note that these descriptions are not intended for diagnosis. No one person exhibits all of the traits and the presence of one or more traits is not evidence of a personality disorder. Read our disclaimer for more info.

These descriptions are offered in the hope that non-personality-disordered family members, caregivers & loved-ones might recognize some similarities to their own situation and discover that they are not alone. Click on the links to read more about each trait.

Top 100 Traits & Behaviors of Personality-Disordered Individuals

  1. Abusive Cycle – The Abusive Cycle describes the characteristic rotation between destructive and constructive behavior that typically exists in dysfunctional relationships and dysfunctional families.
  2. Alienation – Alienation means interfering or cutting a person off from relationships with others. This can be done by manipulating the attitudes and behaviors of the victim or of the people with whom they come in contact. The victim’s relationships with others may be sabotaged through verbal pressure, threats, diversions, distortion campaigns and systems of rewards and punishments.
  3. “Always” & “Never” Statements – “Always” & “Never” Statements are declarations containing the words “always” or “never”. They are commonly used but rarely true.
  4. Anger – People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.
  5. Avoidance – Avoidance is the practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.
  6. Baiting and Picking Fights – Baiting is the practice of generating a provocative action or statement for the purpose of obtaining an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another person.
  7. Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing – Belittling, Condescending & Patronizing Speech is a passive aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of friendliness.
  8. Blaming – Blaming is the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
  9. Bullying – Bullying is any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
  10. Catastrophizing – Catastrophizing is the habit of automatically assuming a “worst case scenario” and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.
  11. Chaos Manufacture – Chaos Manufacture is the practice of unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.
  12. Cheating – Cheating is sharing a romantic or intimate relationship with somebody when you are already committed to a monogamous relationship with someone else.
  13. Chronic Broken Promises – Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.
  14. Circular Conversations – Circular Conversations are arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no real resolution.
  15. Cognitive Dissonance – Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological term for the discomfort that most people feel when they encounter information which contradicts their existing set of beliefs or values. People who suffer from personality disorders often experience cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with evidence that their actions have hurt others or have contradicted their stated morals.
  16. Confirmation Bias – Confirmation Bias is the tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.
  17. “Control-Me” Syndrome – “Control-Me” Syndrome describes a tendency that some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or “acting-out” nature.
  18. Cruelty To Animals – Acts of Cruelty to Animals have been statistically discovered to occur more often in people who suffer from personality disorders than in the general population.
  19. Denial– Denial is believing or imagining that some factual reality, circumstance, feeling or memory does not exist or did not happen.
  20. Dependency – Dependency is an inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.
  21. Depression – When you feel sadder than you think you should, for longer than you think you should – but still can’t seem to break out of it – that’s depression. People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with depression resulting from mistreatment at the hands of others, low self worth and the results of their own poor choices.
  22. Dissociation– Dissociation, or disassociation, is a psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.
  23. Divide and Conquer – Divide and Conquer is a method of gaining and advantage over perceived rivals by manipulating them into conflicts with each other.
  24. Domestic Theft -Domestic theft is consuming or taking control of a resource or asset belonging to (or shared with) a family member, partner or spouse without first obtaining their approval.
  25. Emotional Abuse – Emotional Abuse is any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of fear, obligation or guilt (FOG).
  26. Emotional Blackmail – Emotional Blackmail describes the use of a system of threats and punishments on a person by someone close to them in an attempt to control their behaviors.
  27. Engulfment – Engulfment is an unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on a spouse, partner or family member, which comes from imagining or believing that one exists only within the context of that relationship.
  28. Entitlement – Entitlement or a ‘Sense of Entitlement’ is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
  29. Escape To Fantasy – Escape to Fantasy is sometimes practiced by people who present a facade to friends, partners and family members. Their true identity and feelings are commonly expressed privately in an alternate fantasy world.
  30. False Accusations – False accusations, distortion campaigns & smear campaigns are patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticisms which occur when a personality disordered individual tries to feel better about themselves by putting down someone else – usually a family member, spouse, partner, friend or colleague.
  31. Favoritism – Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a group of peers.
  32. Fear of Abandonment – Fear of abandonment and irrational jealousy is a phobia, sometimes exhibited by people with personality disorders, that they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced at the whim of a person who is close to them.
  33. Feelings of Emptiness – Some personality disordered individuals experience a chronic and acute sense of nothingness or emptiness, so that their own existence has little worth or significance outside of the context of strong physical sensations and relationships with others.
  34. Frivolous Litigation and Frivolous Lawsuits – Frivolous Litigation and Frivolous Lawsuits are methods of withholding support, harassing or prolonging conflict by bringing unsubstantiated accusations, meritless appeals or diversionary process into a relationship or a former relationship using the court system as a proxy.
  35. Gaslighting – Gaslighting is the practice of brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that they are going insane or that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false. The term “Gaslighting” is based on the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.
  36. Harassment – Harassment is any sustained or chronic pattern of unwelcome behavior from one individual to another.
  37. High and Low-Functioning – A High-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual is one who is able to conceal their dysfunctional behavior in certain public settings and maintain a positive public or professional profile while exposing their negative traits to family members behind closed doors. A Low-Functioning Personality-Disordered Individual is one who is unable to conceal their dysfunctional behavior from public view or maintain a positive public or professional profile.
  38. Hoarding – Hoarding is the practice of accumulating items to an extent that it becomes detrimental to quality of lifestyle, comfort, security or hygiene.
  39. Holiday, Anniversary & Memory Triggers – Mood Swings in personality disordered individuals are often triggered or amplified by emotional events such as family holidays, significant anniversaries and events which trigger emotional memories.
  40. Hoovers & Hoovering – A Hoover is a metaphor, taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim, trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior.
  41. Hyper Vigilance – Hyper Vigilance is the practice of maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.
  42. Hysteria – Hysteria is inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.
  43. Identity Disturbance – Identity disturbance is a psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view.
  44. Imposed Isolation – Isolation from friends, family and supportive communities is common among victims of abuse. Isolation is sometimes caused by an abusive person who does not want their victim to have close relationships with others who may challenge their behavior. Often, isolation is self-imposed by abuse victims, who out of a sense of shame or guilt, fear the judgment of others.
  45. Impulsiveness and Impulsivity – Impulsiveness – or Impulsivity – is the tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
  46. Infantilization – Infantilization is the practice of treating a child as if they are much younger than their actual age.
  47. Intimidation – Intimidation is any form of veiled, hidden, indirect or non-verbal threat.
  48. Invalidation – Invalidation is the creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.
  49. Lack of Conscience – Individuals who suffer from personality disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.
  50. Lack of Object Constancy – A lack of object constancy is a symptom of some personality disorders. Lack of object constancy is the inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision. Object constancy is a developmental skill which most children do not develop until 2 or 3 years of age.
  51. Low Self-Esteem – Low Self-Esteem is a common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality. People who have low self-esteem often see themselves as unworthy of being successful in personal and professional settings and in social relationships. They may view their successes and their strengths in a negative light and believe that others see them in the same way. As a result, they may develop an avoidance strategy to protect themselves from criticism.
  52. Manipulation – Manipulation is the practice of baiting an individual or group of individuals into a certain response or reaction pattern for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.
  53. Masking – Masking describes the practice of covering up one’s own natural outward appearance, mannerisms and speech in dramatic and inconsistent ways depending on the situation.
  54. Mirroring – Mirroring is a term which describes imitating or copying another person’s characteristics, behaviors or traits.
  55. Moments Of Clarity – Moments of Clarity are spontaneous, temporary periods when a person with a personality disorder is able to see beyond their own world view and can, for a brief period, understand, acknowledge, articulate and begin to make amends for their dysfunctional behavior.
  56. Mood Swings – Mood swings are unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which can not be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.
  57. Munchausen’s and Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS) – Munchausen’s Syndrome is a disorder in which an individual repeatedly fakes or exaggerates their own illness or medical symptoms in order to manipulate the attentions of medical professionals or caregivers. Munchausen By Proxy Syndrome (MBPS) is a similar syndrome in which another individual, commonly a child, is substituted for the patient and made the focus of inappropriate medical attention.
  58. Name-Calling – Name-Calling is a form of Verbal Abuse which people sometimes indulge in when their emotional thought processes take control from their rational thought processes.
  59. Narcissism – Narcissism is a term used to describe a set of behaviors characterized by a pattern of grandiosity, self-centered focus, need for admiration, self-serving attitude and a lack of empathy or consideration for others. The name comes from the Greek Mythological Character Narcissus, who rejected love from others and fell in love with his own reflection in the water. These characteristics are common in people who suffer from personality disorders, especially Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
  60. Neglect – Neglect is a passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of an individual who is incapable of providing for themselves are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.
  61. Not My Fault Syndrome – Some individuals who suffer from personality disorders, in an attempt to hide their own sense of worthlessness or inadequacy, will go to great lengths not to apologize or take ownership for their own mistakes or actions.
  62. No-Win Scenarios – No-Win Scenarios and Lose-Lose Scenarios are situations commonly created by people who suffer from personality disorders where they present two bad options to someone close to them and pressure them into choosing between the two. This usually leaves the non-personality-disordered person with a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” feeling.
  63. Objectification – Objectification is the practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.
  64. Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior – Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior is characterized by by an inflexible adherence to arbitrary rules & systems or an illogical affinity to cleanliness and orderly structure.
  65. Panic Attacks – Panic Attacks are short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as shaking, sweats, chills and hyperventilating.
  66. Parental Alienation Syndrome – Parental Alienation Syndrome is a term which is used to describe the process by which one parent, who is typically divorced or separated from the other biological parent, uses their influence to make a child believe that the other estranged parent is bad, evil or worthless.
  67. Parentification – Parentification is a form of role reversal, in which a child of a personality-disordered parent is inappropriately given the role of meeting the emotional or physical needs of the parent or of the other children.
  68. Passive-Aggressive Behavior – Passive Aggressive behavior is the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (such as through procrastination and stubbornness).
  69. Pathological Lying – Pathological lying is persistent deception to serve one’s own interests with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.
  70. Perfectionism – Perfectionism is the practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unsustainable or unattainable standard of organization, order or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in others.
  71. Physical Abuse – Physical Abuse is any form of voluntary behavior by one individual which promotes pain, disease or discomfort on another or deprives them of necessary health, nutrition and comfort.
  72. Projection – Projection is the act of attributing one’s own feelings or traits onto another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
  73. Proxy Recruitment – Proxy Recruitment is a way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing you up, speaking for you or “doing your dirty work” for you.
  74. Push-Pull – Push-Pull is a chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.
  75. Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression – Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression are explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute. Rages threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their personal boundaries.
  76. Ranking and Comparing – Ranking is the practice of drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups for the purpose of raising one’s own self-esteem or lowering someone else’s sense of self-worth relative to a peer group.
  77. Riding The Emotional Elevator – The Emotional Elevator is a way of describing how people who suffer from personality disorders and those closest to them sometimes take a fast track down to different levels of emotional maturity.
  78. Sabotage – Sabotage is the impulsive disruption of a calm or harmonious status quo in a relationship or domestic situation, occasionally perpetrated by those with Personality Disorders, in order to serve a personal interest, to provoke a conflict or to draw attention to themselves.
  79. Scapegoating – Scapegoating is the practice of singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame.
  80. Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia – Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia is the use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.
  81. Selective Competence – Selective Competence is the practice of demonstrating different levels of intelligence, resourcefulness, strength or competence depending on the situation or environment.
  82. Self-Aggrandizement – Self-Aggrandizement is a pattern of pompous behavior, boasting, narcissism or competitiveness designed to create an appearance of superiority.
  83. Self-Harm – Self Harm, also known as self-mutilation, self-injury or self-abuse is any form of deliberate, premeditated injury inflicted on oneself, common among adolescents and among people who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. Most common forms are cutting and poisoning/overdosing.
  84. Self-Loathing – Self-Loathing is an extreme self-hatred of one’s own self, actions or one’s ethnic or demographic background.
  85. Self-Victimization – Self-Victimization, or “playing the victim” is the act of casting oneself as a victim in order to control others by soliciting a sympathetic response from them or diverting their attention away from abusive behavior.
  86. Sexual Objectification – Sexual Objectification is the act of viewing another individual in terms of their sexual usefulness or attractiveness rather than pursuing or engaging in a quality of personal relationship with them.
  87. Shaming – The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.
  88. Silent Treatment – The Silent Treatment is a passive aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence.
  89. Situational Ethics – Situational Ethics is a philosophy which promotes the idea that, when dealing with a crisis, the end justifies the means and that a rigid interpretation of rules and laws can be temporarily set aside if a greater good or lesser evil is served by doing so. However, situational ethics can be dangerous when combined with the distorted, crisis-prone thinking of those who suffer from personality disorders.
  90. Sleep Deprivation – Sleep Deprivation is the practice of routinely interrupting, impeding or restricting another person’s sleep cycle.
  91. Splitting – Splitting is the practice of thinking about people and situations as if they were completely “good” or completely “bad” and to occasionally switch between thinking of them as “all good” or “all bad”.
  92. Stalking – Stalking is any pervasive and unwelcome pattern of pursuing contact with another individual.
  93. Stunted Emotional Growth – Stunted Emotional Growth is a difficulty, reluctance or inability to learn from mistakes, work on self improvement or develop more effective coping strategies.
  94. Targeted Humor Mocking & Sarcasm – Targeted Humor is any sustained pattern of joking, sarcasm or mockery which is designed to reduce another individual’s reputation in their own eyes or in the eyes of others.
  95. Testing – Testing is the practice of repeatedly forcing another individual to demonstrate or prove their love or commitment to the relationship.
  96. Thought Policing – Thought Policing is any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another persons thoughts or feelings.
  97. Threats – Threats are written or verbal warnings of intentional, inappropriate, destructive actions or consequences.
  98. Triggering -Triggers are small, insignificant or minor actions, statements or events that produce a dramatic or inappropriate response.
  99. Tunnel Vision – Tunnel Vision is the habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.
  100. Verbal Abuse – Verbal Abuse is any kind of repeated pattern of inappropriate, derogatory or threatening speech directed at one individual by another.

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