Different Types of Personality Disorders
There are three clusters of personality disorders in the DSM-5, the handbook used by health professionals to diagnose mental disorders. These are referred to as Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C.
Cluster A includes paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders, and people with these disorders often appear “odd” or “eccentric.” Cluster B includes antisocial, narcissistic, borderline and histrionic personality disorders, and people with these disorders tend to appear dramatic, emotional or erratic. Cluster C includes avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, and people within this cluster usually appear anxious or fearful.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
Many medical professionals believe this category includes the most severe personality disorders. Cluster A tends to involve odd, eccentric personality disorders.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid personality disorder manifests as chronic and widespread interpersonal distrust, and a person with this disorder typically interprets the actions of others as malevolent and malicious. Paranoid personality disorder symptoms include:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder Symptoms
Exaggerated sensitivity to perceived rejection
Persistently bearing grudges
Sustained vigilance about potential “threat signals”
This disorder does not include hallucinations, delusions or psychosis. Instead, it refers to a state of mind that is consumed by constant suspicion of others. Effects of paranoid personality disorder include increased risk for depression and anxiety, violent and criminal behavior, suicide attempts and poor quality of life due to social withdrawal and isolation. Cognitive analytical therapy has been shown to reduce some symptoms of this disorder.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid personality disorder involves detachment from social relationships and restricted expression of emotions with other people. Other schizoid personality disorder symptoms listed in the DSM-5 include:
- Schizoid Personality Disorder Symptoms
Not desiring or enjoying close relationships
Nearly always choosing solitary activities
Little to no interest in sexual experiences with others
Taking pleasure in very few activities
Lack of close friends
Indifference to praise or criticism
Emotional coldness or detachment
Living with schizoid personality disorder is very difficult and is linked to both unbearable and inescapable loneliness.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is another debilitating disorder characterized by odd and eccentric behaviors. Schizotypal personality disorder symptoms include:
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder Symptoms
Believing coincidences or innocuous events have strong personal significance
Odd beliefs and ways of thinking
Unusual perceptual experiences and bodily illusions
Inappropriate or constricted emotional responses
Suspiciousness or paranoia
Appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar
Lack of close friends
Excessive social anxiety that does not go away with familiarity and also tends to be associated with paranoid fears
Though this disorder is similar to schizoid personality disorder, people with schizotypal personality disorder avoid social interaction because of a deep-seated fear of people. Meanwhile, people with schizoid personality disorder feel no desire to form relationships in the first place.
Related Topic: Can alcohol cause schizophrenia?
Cluster B Personality Disorders
Cluster B personality disorder traits include dramatic, emotional or erratic thoughts and behaviors. Cluster B is sometimes referred to as the dramatic cluster of personality disorders, and it is also characterized by emotional and impulsive personality disorders.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
This disorder involves a pattern of disregard for the rights of others. According to the DSM-5, antisocial personality disorder symptoms and traits include:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms
Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest)
Deceitfulness (repeated lying, use of aliases or conning others for personal profit or pleasure)
Reckless disregard for the safety of oneself and others
Lack of remorse
People who have this disorder tend to experience higher rates of incarceration. Unfortunately, research suggests that psychological interventions for adults with this disorder are not very effective.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder signs include pervasive patterns of grandiosity, need for admiration and a lack of empathy. The relationships of people with narcissistic personality disorder are often fraught with problems, which are likely caused by lack of empathy and preoccupation with personal desires. Diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include:
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder Symptoms
Grandiose sense of self-importance
Preoccupation with fantasies (unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or love)
Belief that one is “special” and unique
A need for excessive admiration
Sense of entitlement
Taking advantage of others
Lack of empathy
Envy of others
Believing that others are envious of oneself
Arrogant behaviors or attitudes
Although it is a relatively rare condition, the DSM-5 indicates that approximately 50% to 75% of those characterized with this disorder are men.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Some professionals consider borderline personality disorder to be a part of the bipolar disorder spectrum. According to the DSM-5, signs of borderline personality disorder include impulsivity and a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and mood. People with borderline personality disorder also show signs such as:
- Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
Patterns of unstable and intense relationships
Unstable self-image or sense of self
Impulsivity in at least two self-damaging behaviors, such as in spending, sex, substance misuse, reckless driving or binge eating
Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats
Intense, rapid mood swings
Chronic feelings of emptiness
Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger
Stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms
Clinical studies show that people with borderline personality disorder respond best to structured and specifically designed forms of psychotherapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking. It is sometimes referred to as the attention-seeking disorder, and it has also been called a disorder of hysteria. According to the DSM-5, histrionic personality disorder symptoms include:
- Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms
Discomfort when not being the center of attention
Interactions with others often include inappropriate seductive or provocative behaviors
Rapid shifts and shallow expression of emotions
Using physical appearance to draw attention to oneself
Excessively impressionistic style of speech that is lacking in detail
Self-dramatization, theatricality and exaggerated expression of emotion
Being easily influenced by others
Believing relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
Cluster C Personality Disorders
Cluster C personality disorders cause people to appear fearful or anxious. Research has shown that inpatient psychotherapeutic treatment is particularly helpful for treating Cluster C personality disorders.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
People with avoidant personality disorder experience social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation. According to the DSM-5, avoidant personality disorder symptoms include:
- Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms
Avoiding activities involving others because of a fear of criticism, disapproval or rejection
Preoccupation with being criticized or rejected in social situations
Unwillingness to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked
Showing restraint in intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
Inhibition in personal situations with others because of feelings of inadequacy
Viewing oneself as socially inept, unappealing or inferior to others
Reluctance to take personal risks or engage in any new activities
This disorder has a high degree of overlap with generalized anxiety disorder, but there are some differences. People with social anxiety disorder typically know that their fears are irrational, but people with avoidant personality disorder believe that they are inferior and that rejection and humiliation are inevitable and deserved.
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder traits include an excessive need to be taken care of, which leads to clinging behavior and a fear of separation. According to the DSM-5, dependent personality disorder symptoms include:
- Dependent Personality Disorder Symptoms
Difficulty making simple, everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others
Needing others to assume responsibility for most major areas of life
Going to excessive lengths to obtain support from others
Urgently seeking another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends
Difficulty expressing when they disagree with others because of a fear of losing support
Difficulty initiating projects or doing things alone
Feeling uncomfortable or helpless when alone
Fears of being left to take care of oneself
Dependent personality disorder causes may include chronic physical illness or separation anxiety disorder during youth.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms are characterized by preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and control. According to the DSM-5, symptoms include:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) Symptoms
Preoccupation with details, lists, organization, schedules and more
Perfectionism to the point that it interferes with completing tasks
Being overconscientious and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics or values
Excessive devotion to work, which negatively affects other activities
Inability to discard worthless objects
Reluctance to delegate tasks or work with others
View money as something to be hoarded
Rigidity and stubbornness
Relationships are particularly affected by obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and the condition is most common among men. People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder experience an excessive capacity to delay rewards, which makes it different from obsessive-compulsive disorder.