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Types of Personality Disorders: A Quick Overview

Updated on March 10, 2020
Margaret Pan profile image

Margaret is passionate about anything regarding mental health and continuously tries to learn as much as possible about this field.

A Quick Introduction to Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder which causes a peculiar and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. Individuals diagnosed with a personality disorder have trouble perceiving their environment while also relating to situations and other people. Thus, they struggle with major problems and limitations in regards to their relationships, work and social activities. In many cases, people with personality disorders do not realize they have one, since their way of thinking seems natural to them. As a result, they accuse others for the challenges they face in their everyday lives. Their symptoms usually appear during the teenage years or early adulthood and their exact cause remains unknown. Nevertheless, genes, environmental factors and traumatic childhood experiences are considered to play a significant role in their development. There are many types of personality disorders which currently are grouped into the following three clusters based on descriptive similarities.

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Cluster A Personality Disorders (Odd)

Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by odd and eccentric behavior and are often associated with schizophrenia. Patients suffering from them tend to be paranoid and misunderstood, have an atypical manner of thinking of speaking and an unwillingness or an inability to form close relationships. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

This disorder is characterized by a pattern of irrational suspicion and mistrust of others. Individuals diagnosed with it constantly think they are in danger and search for threats and signs in their environment in order to validate their fears. They are reluctant to confide in others and are continually suspicious that people such are their coworkers, friends or spouses are exploiting, deceiving or plan on harming them.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

This particular type of Cluster A personality disorders affects less than 1% of the population and mainly causes people to avoid any social interactions. Individuals diagnosed with it have trouble relating to others and may seem detached and cold by them. They also have a limited range of emotional display and exhibit little to no interest when it comes to social activities or sex. Schizoid isn't the same with schizophrenia, although it does share some features with it.

Schizotypical Personality Disorder

The last of the Cluster A personality disorders is characterized by an unusual pattern of thinking, behaving, speaking and even dressing. People with one, are often superstitious and believe there is a magical explanation and a hidden message for every event that happens around them. They also tend to think that they can influence others just with their thoughts and have difficulties in understanding social cues.

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Cluster B Personality Disorders (Dramatic)

Cluster B personality disorders include dramatic, overly emotional and unpredictable thinking and behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder display impulsive, aggressive and violent behavior and often face legal problems, having a history with crime. This disorder appears to have a genetic component and often begins with signs in childhood, including lying, stealing, fighting, acts of vandalism and more. People affected by it tend to have a disregard of other's safety, feelings and needs and show no remorse of their behavior.

Borderline Personality Disorder

People affected by this disorder struggle with regulating their thoughts, emotions and self-image. They can show impulsive and reckless behavior and usually have unstable, intense and toxic relationships with other people. What is more, ongoing feelings of emptiness and suicidal behavior is typical of individuals diagnosed with it. Along with antisocial personality disorder, it appears to have a genetic inheritability.


Histrionic Personality Disorder

Individuals with histrionic personality disorder find themselves in a constant and overwhelming need of affection and reassurance, being over-concerned with physical attractiveness. They are self-centered, provocative, and emotionally swallow. What is more, they continually seek adrenaline, novelty and excitement, which can make them a risky company for other people.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A person with this condition has a magnified sense of self- importance and power. Narcissists believe they are special and better than others and expect constant praise and admiration. They fantasize about power and success and are often manipulative, taking advantage of other people. However, they can also exhibit signs of low self-esteem and depression.

•Orange:Antisocial •Light Blue:Narcissistic •Red:Histrionic •Grey:Dependent •Green:Schizoid •OliveDrab:Avoidant
•Orange:Antisocial •Light Blue:Narcissistic •Red:Histrionic •Grey:Dependent •Green:Schizoid •OliveDrab:Avoidant | Source

Cluster C Personality Disorders (Anxious)

Cluster C personality disorders cause an anxious and fearful thinking and behavior. They include avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

People who are diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder feel inadequate and have very low self-esteem. Being extremely shy and timid, they avoid social interactions and close interpersonal relationships. Moreover, they often exhibit suicidal tendencies and are too sensitive to rejection and criticism.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Just like a dependent person needs the constant support of others in order to operate, individuals diagnosed with dependent personality disorder have a pervasive psychological need to be taken care by others. They have a deep fear of separation and abandonment, are vulnerable and easily manipulated and do everything in their power to please others. These people are usually submissive and have no problem being mistreated in order to maintain a relationship.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

A person with OCPD is obsessed with perfectionism, details, order and rules, resulting in being extremely distressed when perfection is not achieved. They are uncomfortable around messy things and find it very hard to complete tasks due to the fear of them not being perfect. This disorder differentiates from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), although scientists claim that there is a link between them.

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Is There a Treatment for Personality Disorders?

Due to their complexity, personality disorders are difficult to cure. However, individuals diagnosed with one can receive treatment in the forms of medication and psychotherapy. Treatment varies, depending on the type of disorder and of course, the patient himself.

Helping Someone With a Personality Disorder

Supporting someone with a personality disorder not only can seem difficult but also lead you to distress and hopelessness. Nevertheless, if someone close to you is diagnosed with a personality disorder there are some things you can do to help:

•Give them hope for recovery and reassurance that they can get better.
•Don’t act as their doctor. Instead, urge them to search for a treatment by finding a therapist and receiving the medical support they need.
Be patient and accept that the person is struggling, which means that even the simplest thing or activity can be challenging for them.
•Try to distinguish the person from the illness. At times, they might become emotional, offensive, or angry and indulge in outrageous, violent acts. Try to remember that it's not their fault.

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This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Margaret Pan

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    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      2 months ago from Athens

      Thank you Louise!

    • louiseelcross profile image

      Louise Elcross 

      2 months ago from Preston

      Thank you for writing this Margaret. My ex had a personality disorder and you touched on the many difficulties he had. Interesting.

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