The 10 Most Notable Types Of Personality Disorders - SACAP
Applied Psychology

The 10 Most Notable Types of Personality Disorders

Nov 07, 2023
Multiracial teen struggling with a personality disorder

Everyone is unique and as a result, we each have our own way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and reacting. Combined, these different elements make us who we are. What happens if something goes wrong? If how we think, feel, behave, and react malfunctions, and in doing so affects our lives, work, and relationships? When this pattern or ‘malfunction’ repeats itself regularly it may be an indication of a personality disorder.

These are ten notable types of personality disorders and their key characteristic as well as the ways they impact behaviour.

What is a Personality Disorder?

A personality disorder is characterised by rigid and unhealthy patterns of thinking, functioning and behaving. People with personality disorders often have difficulty reading and relating to situations and people. The result is a profound impact on their day-to-day lives.

Personality disorders often become evident in the late teens and early adult years. In fact, many psychiatrists are hesitant to diagnose any person younger than 18-years of age with a personality disorder.

Three Personality Disorder Clusters

When making a diagnosis the various types of personality disorders are divided into three clusters based on shared characteristics and symptoms.

1. Cluster A

These personality disorders are often diagnosed because of odd and eccentric behaviour. The most common features within cluster A are social awkwardness, social withdrawal, and distorted thinking.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Often characterised by an extreme lack of trust and suspicion of others. People with Paranoid Personality Disorder believe that most people around them actively want to hurt them. As a result, they often keep to themselves and go to great lengths to ensure their personal safety. They seldom develop close relationships. Instead, their lives are dominated by disordered thinking, distrust, and hostility.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

A rare disorder that is characterised by social detachment and a restricted emotional range. People with Schizoid Personality Disorder tend to be loners, isolating themselves from others. Many have difficulty in reading social and emotional cues and, as a result, they often appear socially inept and aloof.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

People diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder have extreme social and interpersonal limitations. They are often extremely uncomfortable in social situations and have a limited capacity for close relationships. In addition to this, they can suffer from perceptual abnormalities such as seeing flashing lights that are non-existent. Some have strange superstitious beliefs or fantasies. Believing, for example, that they can read minds or that someone is trying to steal their thoughts.

2. Cluster B

Cluster B is known as the dramatic, emotional, and erratic cluster. These disorders are characterised by difficulties with impulse control and emotional regulation.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the most studied personality disorders and is found predominantly in women. Although more and more men are being diagnosed with it. It is characterised by extreme, rapidly changing moods, distorted thinking, impulsive behaviour, and self-harm.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder have significant problems with their sense of self-worth stemming from a powerful sense of entitlement. Narcissists see themselves as uniquely special, talented, brilliant, or attractive. They have little regard for others. Instead, view relationships as a means to an end. They are usually very materialistic and aware of social status.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Extreme emotionality and attention-seeking behaviour are the key characteristics of Histrionic Personality Disorder. People diagnosed with this disorder are often only comfortable when they are the centre of attention. They struggle to form healthy relationships and their lives are full of drama.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

People with Antisocial Personality Disorder show complete disregard for the rights of others. Their behaviour is manipulative, deceitful and often aggressive. They struggle to feel empathy or remorse and their actions often amount to bullying, vandalism, and the abuse of animals. When symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder appear in juveniles it is diagnosed as Conduct Disorder. Conduct Disorder is the precursor of an Antisocial Personality Disorder.

3. Cluster C

Personality disorders in this cluster are characterised by extreme anxiety. As a result, Cluster C is known as the anxious and fearful cluster.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Feelings of inadequacy, hypersensitivity to criticism and a fear of social situations are characteristics of Avoidant Personality Disorder. People with this disorder are so fearful of being criticised, rejected, or ridiculed that they often avoid social interactions. Their interpretation of the world around them is based on the intrinsic belief that they are not good enough and that others don’t like them.

Dependant Personality Disorder

The core of this disorder is an incredibly strong need to be taken care of by others. This dire need coupled with the fear of losing support often results in clingy behaviour. In their attempts to avoid losing their ‘care giver’ people with Dependant Personality Disorder struggle to stand up for themselves. They are also often bullied and taken advantage of. People with this disorder cannot stand to be alone and should a caring relationship end, they will immediately seek support elsewhere.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are driven by rules, regulations, orderliness and the need to control the environment around them. They are often extreme perfectionists who are rigid in behaviour with limited flexibility and, as a result, efficiency. They struggle to delegate but often get lost in the details. Obsessive Compulsives can adopt certain behaviours as a way to feel like they are maintaining control.

Diagnosing Personality Disorders

It is important to remember that the above is an extremely brief summary of each personality disorder. The disorders themselves are multi-layered and complex and can only be officially diagnosed by a Psychiatrist. When reading this list keep in mind that we all display different behaviours belonging to the various personality disorders at certain times. Therefore, there are specific diagnostic requirements to be diagnosed with one of these 10 disorders.

Are you interested in learning more about psychology or becoming a clinical psychologist? SACAP offers a range of Applied Psychology courses, including part-time and full-time as well as online learning options. For more information, enquire now.

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