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Personality disorders are complex and difficult to characterize. The American Psychiatric Association defines personality disorders as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and leads to distress or impairment” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Persons with these disorders often alienate others with their lack of flexibility, make poor choices for themselves, and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of strife and disorder. Personality disorders are diagnosed by qualified mental health professionals who consider an individual's broad patterns of functioning over time.

Personality disorders may be related to early childhood stress and trauma. Research suggests that this relationship may be significantly more complex ...

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