What Are the 3 Types of Cluster C Personality Disorders?
There are ten personality disorders currently that can be diagnosed. Those ten disorders are grouped into three larger categories, known as clusters. There are three clusters. Regardless of the cluster a personality disorder falls into, they are all mental disorders defined by unhealthy ways of behaving, thinking and functioning. So, what are the types of cluster C personality disorders?
What Are Personality Disorders?
When someone has a personality disorder, they have problems perceiving situations and relating to people. Personality disorders can cause significant problems in relationships, as well as at school, work and in social situations.
Before getting into the types of cluster C personality disorders, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of cluster A and cluster B.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
Cluster A personality disorders are defined by thinking and behavior that seems eccentric or odd to other people. Cluster A personality disorders include:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
Cluster B Personality Disorders
Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by overly emotional, dramatic or erratic behaviors and thought patterns. Cluster B personality disorders are:
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
Types of Cluster C Personality Disorders
Following cluster A and B disorders there are the types of cluster C personality disorders. In general, cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxiousness and fearful thoughts and behaviors.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
The first of the types of cluster C personality disorders is avoidant personality disorder. Someone with avoidant personality disorder will have a strong fear of rejection. Other signs of avoidant personality disorder include the fear of judgment from other people, discomfort in social situations and poor self-esteem.
An estimated 2.5 percent of the population has avoidant personality disorder. Unlike some of the personality disorders, the avoidant disorder affects men and women fairly equally. It can also begin in childhood and then continue through adulthood, even though it’s not usually diagnosed until someone is an adult.
What Are the Causes of Avoidant Personality Disorder?
As with the other types of cluster C personality disorders, doctors and researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes it. Both environmental and genetic factors are believed to play a role. There is some evidence that avoidant personality disorder might be triggered by rejection from parents or peers when someone is younger.
Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder
When a person has avoidant personality disorder, their fear of rejection is so strong that it leads them to opt for social isolation. Other symptoms include:
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism
- Few close friends or relationships
- Extreme fear and anxiety when in social situations
- Avoidance of activities or jobs requiring social interactions
- Exaggeration of potential problems
- Hardly if ever try new things
- Poor self-image
Dependent Personality Disorder
When someone has dependent personality disorder, another of the types of cluster C personality disorders, they have an intense fear of being abandoned. Someone will engage in behaviors viewed as submissive or dependent to avoid being separated from the people they depend on. Someone with dependent personality disorder might be perceived as needy or clingy.
Dependent personality disorder shares some common traits with borderline personality disorder. Doctors and health care providers often have to be careful to distinguish from the two when they’re making a diagnosis.
What Are the Causes of Dependent Personality Disorder?
Again, as with other types of cluster C personality disorders, the exact causes of dependent personality aren’t entirely known. It’s believed to be related to a combination of factors, and some researchers theorize it’s linked to parents that are authoritarian or overprotective.
Symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder
Some of the potential symptoms of this specific type of cluster C personality disorder are:
- The inability to make even small daily decisions without approval or input from another person
- Seeming passive or helpless and then needing the guidance of others to make decisions, such as a spouse or friend
- Extreme fear of abandonment
- Being devastated by the end of a relationship but then moving on quickly to new relationships
- Highly sensitivity to criticism, whether real or perceived
- Lack of self-confidence
- Inability to express disagreement with others
- Problems being alone
- Tolerating abuse or mistreatment from other people
- Putting the needs of others ahead of their own
- Being naïve
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
The third type of cluster C personality disorder is called obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by an extreme need for order and perfectionism. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder need to be in control of other people and situations as well.
One of the biggest differences between obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder is the fact that with the personality disorder, the person probably doesn’t think anything is wrong with them. They will think others are wrong. With OCD, the person knows they have a problem, but they can’t control it.
What Are the Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?
The causes of this type of cluster C personality disorder are likely environmental and genetic. Sometimes adults diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder remember that they felt like they had to be perfect as children. That then carried into their adulthood.
Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Some of the symptoms of this type of cluster C personality disorder include:
- The need for perfectionism to the point that it actually impedes the ability to finish tasks and projects
- Rigid behaviors or mannerisms
- Preoccupation with punctuality
- Frugal with money
- Intense attention to detail
- So focused on work that it impairs relationships with friends and family
- Hoarding useless things
- Inability to delegate
- Fixated on list-making
- Strict following of moral and ethical codes
- The need for order
The types of cluster C personality disorders can be treated, but personality disorders, in general, can be difficult to treat. Treatment for cluster C personality disorders usually involves psychotherapy and most commonly, cognitive-behavioral therapy. In some cases, medications may be used to treat specific symptoms although there aren’t currently any FDA-approved medications for personality disorders.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Personality Disorders.” Mayo Clinic. September 23, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2019.
Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Avoidant Personality Disorder.” Cleveland Clinic. November 20, 2017. Accessed February 4, 2019.
WebMD. “Dependent Personality Disorder.” Accessed February 4, 2019.
Watson, Kathryn. “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).” Healthline. May 12, 2017. Accessed February 4, 2019..