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Different Personality Disorders

It is important to get personality disorders diagnosed so that people suffering from them can get the proper support that they need.

Navigation: What Are the Different Personality Disorders?, Cluster A Personality Disorders, Cluster B Personality Disorders, Cluster C Personality Disorders, How Are Personality Disorders Treated?, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


Everyone has a unique personality. Our personalities are made up of complex combinations of traits that are shaped by our genetics as well as our environments. Different personality traits influence the way we see, understand, and relate to the world around us. It also affects the way we see ourselves.

Ideally, your different personality traits would allow you to cope with the various situations and challenges you experience in life. However, some people have less adaptive personalities that lead to unhealthy coping strategies when faced with stressors. As a result, their relationships may struggle, and some people even turn to substance abuse to cope with their stress.

It is important to get personality disorders diagnosed so that people suffering from them can get the proper support that they need. Therefore recognizing each personality disorder can be incredibly helpful. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of personality disorders.


What Are the Different Personality Disorders?

In some cases, people don’t even know that they have a personality disorder. The way they think and behave seem natural to them, so all of the challenges they encounter feel like they are caused by other people.

Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by deeply ingrained patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that deviate significantly from societal norms and cause significant distress and impairment in various areas of a person’s life.

Personality disorders involve unusual thought patterns and behaviors that often cause problems for the individual. These are lifelong patterns that have the person reacting in such ways whenever they encounter difficult emotions and situations. Having an emotionally unstable personality disorder makes it difficult for individuals to understand the emotions of the people around them, acting impulsively or with little interest in the consequences.

Because there are many types of personality disorders, it is necessary to know the differences between each one. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognized ten distinct personality disorders, which they have separated into three distinct clusters: A, B, and C. These ten personality disorders were organized into these clusters based on shared symptoms and features.


Cluster A Personality Disorders

The standard classification system for personality disorders is provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

In the DSM-5, personality disorders are grouped into three clusters: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C. Each cluster includes a distinct set of personality disorders with characteristic traits and patterns of behavior.

Cluster A Personality Disorders include: Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

Cluster A personality disorders have a consistently dysfunctional pattern of thinking and behavior that either reflects suspicion or lack of interest in other people.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder or PPD is a mental health condition characterized by pervasive distrust and suspicion of others, interpreting motives as malevolent, without any apparent reason to do so.

People with PPD often have an ingrained belief that others are trying to harm, deceive, or exploit them, even when there is no concrete evidence to support these beliefs. This disorder can cause significant distress in various areas of a person’s life, including their relationships, work, and social functioning.

Individuals with PPD are constantly on guard, and they interpret innocent remarks or actions from others as threatening or demeaning. They may be excessively suspicious of others’ motives, believing that people are out to harm or take advantage of them. Even minor incidents or interactions are frequently misinterpreted as evidence of malevolence or ill intent from others.

Because of their condition, they may be unwilling to share personal information with others due to their fear of being betrayed or having their secrets used against them.

They also tend to be unforgiving and bear grudges against perceived enemies for extended periods. Instead of trusting other people, they will have an overreliance on themselves. If they have to work in a team, they may struggle to accept help out of fear of being exploited.

People with PPD may be quick to react defensively and may react angrily or with suspicion when they feel threatened or criticized. In some cases, they may appear aloof and emotionally distant, as expressing vulnerability could be seen as a weakness or something that could be exploited.

Overall, people with paranoid personality disorder struggle to build and maintain close relationships due to their intense distrust of others. They doubt the loyalty of everyone around them, always questioning the motives of other people. If they have a spouse or sexual partner, they will suspect that they are being unfaithful even when there is no reason to feel this way.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is a mental health condition that is characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, emotional coldness, and a limited range of emotional expression.

People with SPD typically display a pattern of detachment from social relationships, often having little desire for close personal connections, including friendships and romantic partnerships. They prefer solitary activities and may not feel a strong need for social interaction.

Another notable characteristic of schizoid personality disorder is having a limited range of emotional expression. They may seem emotionally cold, aloof, and distant. They may have difficulty expressing and understanding emotions, both their own and those of others. Some of them even appear indifferent or unaffected by situations that would evoke strong emotions in others.

One particular emotion that is difficult for them to express is anger. Although they may experience anger, individuals with SPD often find it challenging to express this emotion openly.

This condition affects their ability to engage in meaningful social interactions and can lead to significant distress and impairment in various areas of life.

People with this condition often prefer solitary activities and may be content spending a significant amount of time alone, engaging in hobbies or intellectual pursuits that don’t require social interaction. They may also be more comfortable engaging in solitary pursuits that involve fantasy, imagination, or intellectual exercises.

SPD is a bit different from other personality disorders as people with this condition do not necessarily desire social or sexual relationships but may not necessarily experience intense discomfort with them either.

It’s essential to note that SPD is a relatively rare personality disorder, and its prevalence in the general population is relatively low. The exact causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder are not entirely understood, but like other personality disorders, a combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors is believed to play a role.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD) involves peculiar thoughts, beliefs, appearance, and behavior, along with social and interpersonal difficulties. People with this type of personality disorder may display odd, eccentric, or unconventional behavior. They may dress in unusual ways or have peculiar beliefs and thoughts.

Those with STPD may have odd thought patterns and beliefs that do not align with societal norms. They may believe in superstitions, have magical thinking, or interpret events in unusual ways. Their speech may be vague, overly elaborate, or hard to follow due to disorganized thinking.

“Magical thinking” refers to the belief that one’s thoughts can affect other people and events.

It is common for them to experience transient perceptual experiences, such as sensing an object is alive or having illusions. Some may feel or think strange things, such as hearing a voice whisper their name or believing that casual incidents or events have hidden messages.

Forming and maintaining close relationships with other people may also be difficult for them for a number of reasons. Individuals with STPD may have a tendency to be suspicious or paranoid, leading them to believe that others have malevolent intentions towards them. They may also display emotions that are not in line with the context, making them appear emotionally detached.

As a result, they may have few friends that they feel comfortable around. When surrounded by other people in social situations, they may experience high levels of anxiety.

Individuals with STPD do not typically experience the same level of impairment as those with schizophrenia. However, they may be at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, especially during times of stress.

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Sometimes personality disorders involve dramatic and overly emotional thinking. The personality disorders that fall under Cluster B are characterized by emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and dramatic or erratic behaviors.

The Cluster B personality disorders include: Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder characterized by unstable moods and pervasive patterns of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and emotions.

Individuals with BPD often struggle with regulating their emotions, impulsive behaviors, and an intense fear of abandonment. The disorder typically begins in early adulthood, and its prevalence is estimated to be around 1-2% of the general population.

A person with BPD may struggle with their sense of self, often experiencing rapid shifts in self-identity, values, and goals. They may experience intense mood swings, including periods of extreme sadness, anger, and anxiety. Individuals with BPD often report feeling empty or lacking a sense of purpose.

BPD can lead to difficulty controlling anger and may result in frequent and intense outbursts. They may also display impulsivity and self-harming behaviors. This can manifest in various ways, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, binge eating, or engaging in unsafe sexual practices. BPD is associated with a higher risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts. These actions are often impulsive responses to emotional distress.

In terms of interpersonal connections, people with BPD often have turbulent and unstable relationships, marked by idealization and devaluation of others. They might alternate between viewing someone as perfect and then suddenly despising or feeling disappointed in them.

They also tend to have a constant fear of being abandoned or rejected by people close to them. This fear can lead to frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

Some individuals with BPD may experience brief periods of dissociation or have paranoid thoughts, especially during times of stress.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder or HPD involves excessive attention-seeking, emotional overreaction, and a strong need to be the center of attention.

People with HPD often feel uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention and may go to great lengths to draw attention to themselves. This personality disorder affects both men and women and usually begins in early adulthood.

They may engage in dramatic and flamboyant actions to gain attention from others, dressing provocatively, speaking in an exaggerated manner, or displaying excessive emotions. Their condition makes them constantly seek the approval of other people. They crave constant reassurance from others and may become distressed or upset if they feel ignored or not admired.

Those with HPD may have intense emotional expressions that seem shallow and may quickly shift from one emotion to another. Their emotions are often influenced by external events or the reactions of others. Because of this, they may easily be influenced by others, especially those they perceive as powerful or important.

In terms of relationships, they may quickly become attached to others, seeing relationships as closer and more intimate than they actually are. People with HPD may display sexually seductive behavior and use their appearance to draw attention and gain favor.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance and the need for excessive admiration. They may also have a lack of empathy for other people that they consider beneath them.

People with NPD often have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and believe they are special or unique, requiring excessive admiration from others. It is common for them to exaggerate their achievements and talents. They will constantly seek praise, admiration, and validation from others and may become upset or offended if they feel underappreciated. They believe they deserve special treatment. Some will even exploit others just to achieve their own goals.

A notable characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder is the inability or unwillingness to understand and empathize with the feelings and needs of others. They will usually expect favors and advantages without any good reason.

If they see other people’s accomplishments and successes, they may feel envious and jealous. It is also likely that they think other people are envious of them.

People with NPD often come across as arrogant, condescending, or patronizing towards others. They may have unrealistic beliefs about their potential achievements or physical appearance.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder or ASPD is described as the disregard for the rights of others, a lack of empathy, and a history of engaging in impulsive and irresponsible behaviors.

People with this disorder often display a lack of empathy and remorse for their actions, which can lead to manipulative and exploitative behaviors. The term “antisocial” in this context does not refer to being shy or avoiding social situations but rather to a pattern of behavior that is against societal norms and often involves a disregard for the well-being and rights of others.

They may not care about the consequences of their actions on other people, frequently engaging in behaviors that exploit, deceive, or manipulate others for personal gain. People with ASPD may be skilled at lying and manipulating others for personal gain or to avoid taking responsibility for things they’ve done. Because of this, they may be incapable of forming deep emotional connections with others.

A lack of impulse control is common in people with ASPD, which can lead to reckless and risky behaviors, often without considering potential negative outcomes.

They may display aggressive behavior, both physically and verbally, to either get what they want or to respond to perceived threats or challenges.

Overall, individuals with ASPD tend to consistently violate societal rules and norms without feeling guilty or remorseful.

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Cluster C personality disorders are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as personality disorders that are characterized by anxious and fearful behavior.

Examples of Cluster C personality disorders include Avoidant Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder (AVPD) involves feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to rejection, and social inhibition. People with AVPD typically avoid social interactions and fear rejection, leading to significant impairment in various areas of their life, including their relationships.

They have an intense fear of being rejected or getting embarrassed, which may be irrational or disproportionate to the actual situation.

It is common for people with AVPD to have low self-esteem. They see themselves as socially inept, unappealing, or inferior to others. They are also highly sensitive to criticism or negative feedback and may interpret neutral comments as disapproval or rejection.

Avoidant individuals tend to avoid taking risks or trying new activities due to fear of failure or embarrassment. They also tend to keep their social circles small as they may struggle to form new connections, even if they desire social interaction.

The avoidance and isolation associated with AVPD can lead to significant anxiety and emotional distress.

Dependent Personality Disorder

Dependent Personality Disorder or DPD is marked by an excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive and clinging behavior. People with DPD often have an overwhelming fear of being left alone or having to take care of themselves. They may feel incapable of making everyday decisions without the input and reassurance of others, and they may go to great lengths to seek approval and support from those around them.

Those who are suffering from DPD have an intense reliance on others for emotional and practical needs. They may struggle to take initiative or make decisions on their own, relying instead on others to do so.

They will often passively submit to the desires and opinions of others to avoid conflict or rejection. They may suppress their own needs and feelings to maintain the support and approval of those they depend on.

Just like those with borderline personality disorder, people with DPD are often preoccupied with the fear of being left alone or separated from their support network. This fear can drive them to engage in behaviors to maintain the connection with others, even if it means sacrificing their own well-being.

Similar to those with avoidant personality disorder, they tend to have low self-confidence, having an underlying belief that they are incapable, inadequate, or helpless. They rely on others to validate their self-worth.

Even if people mistreat or abuse them, they will tolerate it out of fear of losing support or being alone.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Finally, Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is characterized by a preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control at the expense of flexibility and openness.

It is important to distinguish OCPD from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as they are distinct conditions.

People with OCPD have an excessive concern with perfectionism and may set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others. They often feel dissatisfied with their achievements and are overly critical of minor flaws or mistakes. They usually focus too much on details, making it challenging to see the bigger picture or complete tasks efficiently.

They are also preoccupied with maintaining order and control over their environment. They may be excessively organized and may have difficulty delegating tasks to others. They feel the need to control their thoughts, feelings, and impulses rigorously. They might also try to control others in their lives, which can strain relationships.

OCPD individuals tend to be rigid and inflexible in their thinking and behavior. This means they have difficulty adapting to change or new situations. They may also be resistant to new ideas.

Another interesting characteristic of those with OCPD is having trouble discarding worn-out or useless objects due to their need to keep everything “just in case”. Individuals with OCPD often struggle to relax or engage in leisure activities because they feel they should be working or organizing. It is therefore common for them to be overly dedicated to work at the expense of personal relationships and leisure activities.

How Are Personality Disorders Treated?

Even though we have discussed the common signs and symptoms of personality disorders, we should note that a proper diagnosis from a healthcare professional is still necessary.

It is important to remember that many people with personality disorders tend to have symptoms of at least one other type. The number and severity of symptoms will vary from one person to another.

Treatment for personality disorders typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support from loved ones or a support network. Keep in mind that personality disorders can be complex and challenging to treat, so a comprehensive and individualized approach is necessary.

Psychotherapy, specifically long-term and evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Schema Therapy, are commonly used to treat personality disorders. These therapies help individuals understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and develop healthier coping mechanisms and interpersonal skills.

Some people may require medications to manage their symptoms. While there are no medications specifically designed to treat personality disorders themselves, medications may be prescribed to help those in recovery deal with the effects of their disorder. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antianxiety medications are some examples.

Group therapy can also be incredibly helpful as it provides a supportive environment where patients can learn from others’ experiences, practice social skills, and gain insight into their own behaviors and emotions.

In severe cases where safety is a concern or when other interventions are not effective, short-term hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs may be recommended to stabilize the individual and provide more intensive treatment.

The treatment for personality disorders may be a long-term process, and progress can vary from one person to another. Early intervention and consistent support can greatly improve the outcomes for individuals with personality disorders.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a personality disorder, it’s important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. They can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan based on the individual’s specific needs and challenges. Look for a treatment center near you today to learn more.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.



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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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