Personality disorders are difficult to deal with, whether you have one personally or you love and care about someone with a personality disorder.
Personality disorders are grouped into three categories, also called “clusters.” These are Cluster A, Cluster B and Cluster C.
So what are cluster C personality disorders? The following guide provides information to answer the question “what are cluster C personality disorders” and also gives a brief overview of the other types of personality disorders.
What Are Cluster C Personality Disorders vs. Other Types?
What's In This Article?
First, before answering what are cluster C personality disorders, what are personality disorders in general?
Personality disorders are mental disorders characterized by unhealthy ways of thinking, behaving and functioning. They are rigid and inflexible, and it’s difficult for someone with a personality disorder to relate to other people and function in what’s seen as normal in different situations.
Personality disorders can cause significant problems across a person’s life including not only in their relationships but at work, school and social activities. With personality disorders, it can be difficult for the person who has one to realize there is an issue. It’s such an innate part of who they are, and someone with a personality disorder will often blame other people for their challenges and problems.
Personality disorders will typically start to appear when someone is in late adolescence or early adulthood and symptoms may get better as a person reaches middle age.
The following are the groupings of personality disorders, including cluster C disorders.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
Cluster A disorders are ones that are defined by behaviors viewed as odd or eccentric. The cluster A personality disorders include:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: Paranoid personality disorder is defined by an ongoing and pervasive sense of suspicion and distrust of others. There is a belief that other people are trying to harm you or deceive you, and this belief isn’t based in reality. Someone with paranoid personality disorder will often hold grudges and tend to react with anger or hostility to situations where there is a perceived slight.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder: With this personality disorder, which falls into cluster A, there is a lack of interest in relationships or social interactions. A person with this disorder will prefer being alone, has limited emotions, and doesn’t take pleasure in many activities.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Someone with schizotypal personality disorder tends to have strange ways of thinking, behaving and speaking. Other symptoms of this personality disorder can include social anxiety, inappropriate emotional responses, or magical thinking meaning someone may think they can influence people and situations with their thoughts.
Cluster B Personality Disorders
Cluster B personality disorders are grouped together because they are characterized by dramatic or excessively emotional responses, thinking or behavior. The following are specific disorders that fall into the Cluster B category:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder: Antisocial personality disorder is what is often seen with criminals. Symptoms include a disregard for the feelings and needs of others, ongoing lying and manipulation, and legal problems. People with antisocial personality disorder may frequently violate others’ rights. Behaviors may be violent, aggressive and impulsive and there isn’t any remorse for these behaviors.
- Borderline Personality Disorder: With borderline personality disorder or BPD, the affected person may engage in risky, impulsive behaviors. They may have an overwhelming fear of being abandoned or being alone; they may have mood swings and relationships are often volatile and unstable. Other symptoms of borderline personality disorder include frequent angry outbursts and a poor self-image.
- Histrionic Personality Disorder: This cluster B personality disorder is characterized by the constant need for attention, excessively dramatic behavior used to gain attention, and emotions that are shallow and change quickly.
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder: When someone has narcissistic personality disorder they may have an over-inflated sense of self and delusions about their attractiveness, success or power. Someone with narcissistic personality disorder will have difficulties recognizing the needs and feelings of other people and will expect constant admiration.
Cluster C Personality Disorders
Cluster C personality disorders are defined by behaviors that are primarily anxious and fearful. Specific Cluster C personality disorders are detailed below.
Avoidant Personality Disorder
Someone with avoidant personality disorder is very sensitive to real or perceived criticism or rejection. They may feel inferior or inadequate, and they often avoid any activities that require interpersonal contact, and this can include work. Other features of avoidant personality disorder are:
- Social inhibition
- Timid disposition
- Avoiding new situations or people
- Extreme shyness
- Fear of ridicule or embarrassment
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent personality disorder is characterized by an extreme dependence on other people and the need to be taken care of. Specific signs of dependent personality disorder can include:
- Clingy behaviors
- Lack of confidence
- Need for others to provide reassurance and advice
- Inability to make one’s own decisions
- Problems taking on projects or responsibilities
- Inability to disagree with other people
- Tolerance of abuse
- The need to immediately start new relationships when another ends
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder has some similarities to obsessive-compulsive disorder but without the intrusive thoughts. Specific things that may occur when someone has obsessive-compulsive personality disorder are:
- Adherence to strict standards or ethics
- The need to be in control of everything including situations and people
- Excessive desire to work or complete projects
- Obsessed with rules and details
Cluster C Personality Disorder Diagnosis
Along with wondering what are cluster C personality disorders, people tend to wonder how these personality disorders are diagnosed.
Personality disorders, in general, are more challenging to diagnose than other mental health disorders because people affected don’t know they have a disorder.
Diagnosing cluster C personality disorders often requires a doctor or mental health professional to speak with people close to the affected individual. For example, they might speak with a spouse to learn more about a person’s behavior and traits.
Once a cluster C personality disorder is diagnosed, it can be treated using a combination of psychotherapy and medication in most cases.
So, to sum up, what are cluster C personality disorders? They are a set of personality disorders that are defined by anxious and fearful behaviors.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Personality Disorders.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 28, 2019.
Osborn O’Keefe, Corinne. “Cluster C Personality Disorders and Traits.” Healthline. August 17, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2019.
Schimelpfening, Nancy. “An Overview of Mixed Personality Disorder.” Verywell Mind. November 30, 2018. Accessed January 28, 2019.