Most Common Personality Disorders Explained

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Personality disorders come with an unhealthy stigma that makes them an uncomfortable topic to talk about. However, each disorder is unique from one another and comes with different challenges that would be hard to generalize. To better understand the difference between some of these personality disorders, in this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most common ones.

What Are Personality Disorders?

A personality disorder is a type of mental health disorder that affects your personality; the way you think, act, and interpret the world around you. Personality disorders come in many different forms, so it is divided into clusters based on characteristics. These disorders most commonly develop in early adulthood, but may show themselves at different times. They’re often a combination of genetics along with environmental, meaning that having relatives with certain conditions may increase your risk (Mayo Clinic 2016).

The three clusters are:

  • Cluster A: Eccentric behavior and thinking
  • Cluster B: Dramatic and emotional behavior and thinking
  • Cluster C: Anxious behavior and thinking

With that, here are some of the most commonly diagnosed personality disorders. Please note that each disorder affects everyone differently, and that an individual with one of the following disorders may present differently than what’s described here. Each disorder also is on a spectrum and varies in terms of severity.

1. Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by having a strong suspicion of others and is a cluster A personality disorder. They may have a hard time confiding in others as they find it difficult to trust people and understanding their intentions. People with this disorder may notice that their feelings towards others changes quickly and that they are extremely suspicious of people’s motives. Because of this, it can be difficult to treat as they often will have a hard time confiding in someone else (Martel 2021). 

2. Schizoid Personality Disorder (ScPD)

Schizoid personality disorder is another cluster A personality disorder that affects a person’s ability and need to socialize with others. Often times these people will be loners and do not enjoy relationships in any capacity. They often find little enjoyment out of activities, especially those involving other people. This is different from someone who is introverted, as someone with ScPD will have virtually no need for any kind of relationship with anyone. They may live a reclusive lifestyle with as little social contact as possible, this includes with their own family (WebMD 2006). 

3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder (StPD)

A person with Schizotypal personality disorder usually has odd behaviors and thus is also in the cluster A personality disorder category. They may have bizarre and magical beliefs and find connections between seemingly unrelated events. Oftentimes, people with Schizotypal personality disorder will dress in a peculiar and eccentric way. They may find it extremely difficult to make connections with others as their beliefs tend to be more bizarre and nonsensical making them socially isolated. It’s common for people this disorder to feel paranoid about people, which in turn can make relationships and working hard (Smith 2022). 

4. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)

Characteristically, a person with Antisocial personality disorder is someone who disregards other people and rules. ASPD is considered a cluster B personality disorder. They have a tendency for manipulation, lying, and exploiting with little care for doing such. In a lot of cases, adults with ASPD will have had significant behavioral problems as a child and may have been violent or reckless. Typically, people with this disorder will have a lack of empathy towards others and oftentimes a criminal record. A person with ASPD is informally known as a sociopath, while someone with a severe form of ASPD may be known as a psychopath (NHS 2022). 

5. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline personality disorder is a cluster B personality disorder typically characterized by instability in mood, relationships, and sense of self. People with BPD tend to fear abandonment and can have severe reactions to stress. Those with BPD may lack a stable sense of identity and have problems with codependency. Their moods, attitudes, and sense of self can often change extremely quickly and dramatically making them seem “all over the place” (Mayo Clinic 2019).

6. Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

Histrionic personality disorder is a cluster B personality disorder characterized by an intense need to be the center of attention. People with this disorder tend to struggle with instability and attention seeking behaviors. They often need validation and have a high need for others to approve of them. They can come off as overly sexual, flashy, and be easily influenced. They often feel uncomfortable when they are not in the spotlight and may try to shift the focus back to them (Cleveland Clinic 2022).

7. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissistic personality disorder is a cluster B personality disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self importance with a disregard to the feelings of others. People with this disorder tend to have a constant need for approval that can lead to unstable relationships. They often are fragile and may feel threatened at the slightest criticism. They can take advantage of others to get what they want and are usually influenced by gaining status (Mayo Clinic 2017). 

8. Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

Avoidant personality disorder is typically described as having feelings of inadequacy and will avoid conflicts. They tend to be overly self-aware and will avoid situations where they may face rejection. It’s possible for someone with this disorder to turn down promotions or other events where it might bring more attention to them. This disorder is more related to anxiety and fear, which is why it’s considered a cluster C disorder (Cucnic 2020). 

While personality disorders of any kind come with a lot of challenges, it is possible to seek treatment and to get your life on track. It takes getting in touch with the right professional to help with the process and make recovery possible. Let us know what your thoughts on this topic are and if you have anything else to add in the comments!

References:

  • Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Histrionic Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment. my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9743-histrionic-personality-disorder
  • Cucnic, A. (2020, August 8). What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder? Verywell Mind. www.verywellmind.com/avoidant-personality-disorder-4172959
  • Martel, J. (2021, April 21). Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD). Healthline. www.healthline.com/health/paranoid-personality-disorder#causes-and-risk-factors
  • Mayo Clinic. (2016, September 23). Personality disorders – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463
  • Mayo Clinic. (2017, November 18). Narcissistic personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
  • NHS website. (2022, March 29). Antisocial personality disorder. Nhs.Uk. www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/
  • Smith, K. (2022). Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Psycom. www.psycom.net/schizotypal-personality-disorder
  • WebMD. (2006, February 2). Schizoid Personality Disorder. www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-schizoid-personality-disorder

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