Personality disorders are divided into three categories, or “clusters,” with specific personality disorders falling under each one. It’s important to note that only a trained professional psychologist or psychiatrist can make the diagnosis of whether or not someone has a personality disorder. It’s also not uncommon for one person to be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder from different categories. In addition, behaviour outside of the norm may still constitute a personality disorder even if it doesn’t fit neatly into one or more categories.
Cluster A: Odd or eccentric
Paranoid personality disorder
People with paranoid personality disorder distrust or are suspicious about other people’s motives. This may lead to angry outbursts, holding grudges, or jealous, secretive, or scheming behaviours. It seems to be more commonly diagnosed in men.
Schizoid personality disorder
Detached, cold, and with limited emotional expression, people with schizoid personality disorder nearly always choose to be alone and lack relationships aside from immediate relatives. Praise or criticism by others seems to matter little and they have few interests that give them enjoyment.
Schizotypal personality disorder
People with schizotypal personality disorder may display odd or unusual behaviour, including unusual mannerisms, ways of speaking, thinking, or dressing. They also may experience illusions and have a tendency toward “magical thinking,” such as saying they can read minds or being overly superstitious. Paranoia, extreme anxiety in social situations, and great discomfort in close relationships are also commonly seen with this disorder.
Cluster B: Dramatic, emotional or erratic
Antisocial personality disorder
More common in men, people with antisocial personality disorder ignore social norms. They may frequently lie to and con others. In addition to having trouble keeping a job and meeting financial obligations, people with this disorder display behaviour that typically brings them in conflict with the law and may include actions that endanger themselves or others. They also tend to lack remorse and seem to lack the ability to understand or care about other people’s feelings.
Borderline personality disorder
More common in women, borderline personality disorder is marked by extreme moodiness and instability in relationships. People with this disorder have a sense of self that may constantly shift, and they may engage in destructive, reckless, or impulsive behaviour related to money, sex, food, substance abuse, or other triggers. A person with this disorder might also experience anger, feelings of emptiness, or paranoia.
Histrionic personality disorder
People with histrionic personality disorder tend to be extremely emotional attention seekers with behaviour that is dramatic and exaggerated. This may include seductive or sexually provocative behaviour, shallow and constantly shifting expression of emotions, a put-on speech style, or the use of physical appearance to attract attention to themselves.
Narcissistic personality disorder
Marked by arrogant or self-important behaviours and attitudes, people with narcissistic personality disorder tend to have an overblown sense of self. They seek out admiration and praise, have difficulty recognizing or don’t care about other people’s feelings, and may take advantage of others to reach their own aims. They also often fantasize about their own rise to success and want to spend time only with those people they consider to be their equals or betters.
Cluster C: Anxious or fearful
Avoidant personality disorder
People with avoidant personality disorder may appear painfully shy. The disorder includes deep concerns or fears of being criticized, rejected, inadequate, unappealing, or inferior to others. They may not seek jobs or try new things that require much personal contact, tend not to take risks, and they are quite restrained in personal relationships because of fears of embarrassment, being shamed or ridiculed.
Dependent personality disorder
Difficulty making run-of-the-mill decisions, lack of confidence in personal abilities or judgement, and strong feelings of helplessness are a few of the characteristics of dependent personality disorder. People with this disorder also rely on others for help in most major areas of their lives, are devastated if a relationship ends—urgently seeking a new one—and are especially preoccupied with fears of being left alone to fend for themselves. One of the most commonly reported personality disorder in mental health clinics, it is more often diagnosed in women than in men.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
People with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are fixated on order, perfection, and control. While they have goals for achievement, they may ultimately be defeated by overly strict standards that lead to difficulty in making decisions and getting lost in every detail. This disorder may also include inflexibility related to morals, ethics, or values. If people with this disorder do have to rely on others, or experience unpredictable events or feelings, they may feel an uncomfortable, increased need for control.