Personality disorders, formerly known as character disorders, make up a class of heterogeneous mental disorders characterized by chronic, maladaptive, and rigid patterns of cognition, affect, and behavior. They are coded on Axis II of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) and reflect patterns of thought, affect, and behavior that deviate from the expectations of a person's culture and impair social and occupational functioning. Some, but not all, cause emotional distress. Personality disorders do not stem from inadequate reactions to acute stress, but rather, they develop gradually and are expressed in adolescence or early adulthood. Many traits associated with personality disorders may be shared by nondisordered individuals. Although the signs and symptoms of personality disorders may describe characteristics ...

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