Personality disorders involve deeply ingrained maladaptive patterns of behaviour that cause harm to the subject and/or other people. These disorders are generally recognizable by the time of adolescence, and continue through most or all of adult life.

The older term 'psychopathy' may be used for any personality disorder, but is usually reserved for the 'antisocial' type.

Great caution must be exercised before the diagnosis is given, as it can have adverse implications, and can lead to the patient's being rejected from services as untreatable.

Indeed, it has been observed, only half-jokingly, that the only people who do not have a personality disorder are those without a personality. This makes the important point that all of us have personality traits that could be maladaptive or counterproductive in certain circumstances.

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