Personality disorders are mental disorder with inflexible, enduring, maladaptive patterns of adjustment to life that cause either subjective distress or significant impairment of adaptive functioning.
The DSM-IV: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association) defines a personality disorder as an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that
- deviates markedly from the expectation 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.