Personality Disorders: Types And Clusters

Borderline personality disorder and anti social personality disorder are 2 of the most common types.

Personality disorders can lead to social, emotional, and even work-related problems.
Personality disorders can lead to social, emotional, and even work-related problems.

Personality disorders are one of the leading causes of discomfort. However, this is not because the individual realizes that they have a problem, but instead because sometimes, due to the extravagance of their behavior, they have difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Besides, psychological symptoms related to the primary mental disorder can come up.

There are so many types of personality disorders out there that lead to thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that diverge from what's commonly accepted by society and all of these factors could make it hard to adapt.

What are personality disorders?

Personality disorders are a combination of thought, emotional, and behavioral changes that make the individual stand out in their peer group and make it hard for them to adapt to their social environment.

This behavioral pattern tends to be permanent and stable, and psychologists find it very difficult to modify. This is why research isn't as extensive in this area as it is with the rest of mental disorders found in diagnostic manuals.

In psychology and according to diagnostic manuals like the DSM-5, there are 10 accepted personality disorders. Generally speaking, they are classified depending on the person's behavior, rather than their thoughts and emotions since this is more difficult to pinpoint.

Standardized tests, family history, background information, and a clinical interview help to draw conclusions that in some cases help to identify what specific personality disorder the affected person has.

On other occasions, important pathological traits that don't meet any criteria are uncovered. When this happens, the term 'unspecified personality disorder' is often used. However, it is important to recognize the psychological aspects that keep the combination of symptoms from fitting into a specific category and to take note of the similarities to any other recognized personality disorders.


Personality disorders aren't limited to just one specific cause. In fact, there are many variables involved ranging from genetics to environmental factors.

A family history of this mental health condition or experiencing hostile situations  like mistreatment and abuse elevate the risk as well. Even so, the development of a personality pathology seems to have multiple causes.

Personality disorder clusters

The 10 personality disorders accepted and described by health professionals are grouped into 'clusters' or groups that differ based on behavioral factors. However, some professionals find these categories artificial and hardly informative.

Cluster A: 'Eccentric'

This group is made up of individuals with paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. These people stand out because of their eccentric and extravagant actions, which is why they are considered odd by others.

Cluster B: 'Dramatic'

People with borderline personality disorder, anti-social, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders, all fall into this group. These individuals tend to be emotionally unstable, somewhat dramatic, suspicious, and even superstitious.

Cluster C: 'Fearful'

Characterized by a fearful or anxious personality, those in cluster C tend to be dependent and need protection since they're always afraid. Avoidant, dependent, and obsessive personalities are included here.

Type C personality is connected to anxiety.
Type C personality is connected to anxiety.

14 Types of disorders

Diagnosis of personality disorders starts in adolescence. This is when people start to get a stronger idea of self-identity, and their personality really begins to take shape.

Although personality disorders are intrinsic to an individual and thus tricky to 'cure,' there are therapies and techniques to help the person to manage and interpret the way that they perceive things like their thoughts and feelings more openly.

Even though the DSM only describes 10 personality disorders, many professionals also recognize other disorders -mainly those described by Theodore Millon. Some of these include depressive, sadistic, masochistic, and passive-aggressive personalities.

1. Paranoid personality disorder (PPD)

Apprehension in these individuals towards strangers and even their closest allies characterizes this type of personality. They have a strong feeling that they are always being watched  and that everyone is against them. 'Imagine the worst, and you won't be far from wrong' is a saying that sums up the way people with this disorder think.

2. Schizoid personality disorder

These people are uninterested in getting to know people or interacting with others. Besides, they tend to make the decision isolate themselves. But, this isn't a problem for them since they don't miss this company or affection. However, this can interfere in achieving their life goals in a big way since interpersonal relationships play a fundamental role in most cultures.

3. Schizotypal

People with this personality disorder have eccentric perceptions, worries, and behaviors. Unlike those with the schizoid personality type, those who are schizotypal experience intense emotional suffering. Because of this,  they long for social interactions -however, it is extremely hard for them to establish relationships.

Besides, their contradictory need to distance themselves from others even though they crave this contact makes them even more peculiar which could affect others' perceptions of them and make social inclusion even harder.

4. Anti social personality disorder

A lack of empathy marks this disorder, and the person affected may appear to be emotionless. These people might find enjoyment in others' suffering, and others weaknesses tend to make them feel powerful.

Psychopaths that have no remorse or that purposefully harm the people around them for their own personal benefit or because they simply don't value them, fall into the extremes of this disorder. However, the category has received criticism for its overlapping area with criminal behavior since a wide range of very different individuals fall into this spectrum.

5. Borderline personality disorder

This pathology is one that harms the person experiencing it and their loved ones the most. Borderline personality is marked by instability in all areas of life including identity and emotions. These people experience and feel everything in an extreme manner and especially negative events. They also tend to feel unloved, and their perception of others changes quickly.

6. Histronic

This type of person continually brags about what they've done and everything that's related to them. They have a glaring need to get others' attention, and they're theatrical and over the top, since they know perfectly well that this is how to achieve their goal: being the center of attention.

7. Narcissistic personality disorder

Narcissists believe that they are better than others. Even if they try to establish relationships with others, they aren't usually successful since they lack true empathy and are too caught up in themselves which keeps them from taking a real interest in other people.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the most common personality disorders.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of the most common personality disorders.

8. Avoidant

Avoidant people have an intense fear of interacting with others -this fear generates anxiety, and this leads them into a spiral of interpersonal rejection. Even so, they like to establish close relationships, but embarrassment and worry keep them from letting others get to know them.

9. Dependent (DPD)

Those with dependent personalities believe that they need the help of others to overcome the obstacles that life presents them with. They feel helpless and incapable, which is why they think that they need assistance to get through their problems -which could be true to a certain extent since this pattern keeps them from learning new abilities. They are incredibly indecisive and have an intense fear of loneliness. 

10. Obsessive-compulsive

A rigid personality characterizes people with obsessive personalities. Plans are so meaningful to them, and they guide their lives to the extent where they are no longer practical. They always stick to the rules and they don't leave time for leisure or enjoyment since this makes them feel guilty. They are perfectionists that are extremely hard on themselves when it comes to reaching goals, and they don't even consider the possibility of failure. Those with this disorder push themselves to the limit.

11. Depressive

According to Theodore Millon, depressive personality disorder is a proper diagnosis for those with chronic depression. Symptoms include negative thoughts about ones' self, planning suicide, and even halucinations and aggressive behavior.

12. Sadistic

Sadistic people find pleasure in others' suffering. These individuals are usually cruel, dominant, authoritarian and often explode into fits of rage. They also have a tendency toward rigid and dogmatic thoughts, according to Millon.

13. Masochistic

In contrast, masochism, as described by Millon, is a personality pattern where the affected person belittles themselves, and tends toward subservience and feels that they are always at fault  or suspects that people that treat them well have hidden intentions.

14. Passive aggressive personality disorder

According to Theodore Millon, people with passive-aggressive disorder hold grudges and are skeptical and dissatisfied. Besides, they avoid direct communication and tear down others' goals and expectations.