ICD Notes Common to the Diagnostic Criteria for Each Personality Disorder

Personality disorder diagnoses under the ICD-10 system each refer to a set of symptoms specific to that personality disorder and a set of diagnostic guidelines which apply to all personality disorders.

Personality Disorder Description Common to All Personality Disorders

The following information is reproduced verbatim from the ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, World Health Organization, Geneva, 1992. (Since the WHO updates the overall ICD on a regular basis, individual classifications within it may or may not change from year to year; therefore, you should always check directly with the WHO to be sure of obtaining the latest revision for any particular individual classification.) It provides the common description and guidelines referenced by the diagnostic criteria for each of the individual personalty disorders.

Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a severe disturbance in the characterological constitution and behavioural tendencies of the individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Personality disorder tends to appear in late childhood or adolescence and continues to be manifest into adulthood. It is therefore unlikely that the diagnosis of personality disorder will be appropriate before the age of 16 or 17 years. General diagnostic guidelines applying to all personality disorders are presented below; supplementary descriptions are provided with each of the subtypes.

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Diagnostic Guidelines

Conditions not directly attributable to gross brain damage or disease, or to another psychiatric disorder, meeting the following criteria:

  1. markedly disharmonious attitudes and behaviour, involving usually several areas of functioning, e.g. affectivity, arousal, impulse control, ways of perceiving and thinking, and style of relating to others;
  2. the abnormal behaviour pattern is enduring, of long standing, and not limited to episodes of mental illness;
  3. the abnormal behaviour pattern is pervasive and clearly maladaptive to a broad range of personal and social situations;
  4. the above manifestations always appear during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood;
  5. the disorder leads to considerable personal distress but this may only become apparent late in its course;
  6. the disorder is usually, but not invariably, associated with significant problems in occupational and social performance.

For different cultures it may be necessary to develop specific sets of criteria with regard to social norms, rules and obligations. For diagnosing most of the subtypes listed below, clear evidence is usually required of the presence of at least three of the traits or behaviours given in the clinical description.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. Please seek professional advice if you are experiencing any mental health concern.

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