Personality Disorders Cluster B

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Overview – Personality Disorders, Cluster B

Personality disorders Cluster B are a group of mental illnesses that involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. They are characterized as the dramatic, emotional, and erratic illnesses. Those diagnosed with a Cluster B Personality Disorder tend to find it hard to regulate their emotions. They tend to exhibit overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior, related to interactions with others. Their behaviors are often considered threatening or disturbing. 

Those with Cluster B personality disorders may share atypical brain features, some of which affect the amygdalae, two tiny brain organs that are involved in regulating emotion and alerting to potential danger.

As with other personality disorders, Cluster B demonstrates four defining characteristics:

  • Distorted thinking patterns
  • Problematic emotional responses
  • Over- or under-regulate impulse control
  • Interpersonal difficulties.

In order to be diagnosed with a Personality Disorder in Cluster B, the individual must exhibit at least two of the four typical defining characteristics.

The diagnosis is typically made in adulthood because these personality disorders represent a pattern of enduring problems that are stable over time. The pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: thoughts, feelings, interpersonal relationships, and impulse control. The pattern is pervasive, inflexible, deviates markedly from cultural norms and expectations, and leads to distress or impairment.

Personality Disorders, Cluster B, presents information on four types of disorders, one type each day for four days. These are: 

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a serious Cluster B mental illness that involves erratic or dramatic behavior and engagement in extremely impulsive, theatrical, illegal, and promiscuous behaviors. It is characterized by an enduring of behavior that exhibits a disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others. Those diagnosed with an Antisocial Personality Disorder can be very charming. However, they tend to evidence a disregard for the rights or needs of others. Typically, they act indifferent to the outcomes of their hurtful actions, or they rationalize the reasons for harming or deceiving others. 

The non-clinical terms of sociopathy or psychopathic may be used to describe characteristics of some people with an antisocial personality disorder who are generally believed to lack a sense of moral conscience. It is more common among males than females. Adult males in this category are responsible for almost 50 percent of serious criminal behavior. The criteria used to diagnose antisocial personality disorder are also used to identify someone who has sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious Cluster B mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. Said to be one of the most studied of all the personality disorders, it is characterized by a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days. They a lack of stability in relationships, which is a main feature of this condition. 

Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have an unusually high risk of suicide. At least 75 percent of these individuals attempt suicide at least once in their lives and 10 percent eventually succeed. 

Histrionic Personality Disorder

A Histrionic Personality Disorder is a Cluster B mental illness involving an overwhelming desire to be noticed and dramatic behavior. It is characterized by self-centeredness, exaggerated emotions, dramatic displays, and irregular emotional states. Those with this disorder tend to believe that their behavior is typical and may not perceive that it causes problems. They often receive the diagnosis later in life, after their patterns of behavior have interfered with their personal or professional relationships. 

Histrionic personality disorder involves extreme emotionality, impulsivity, and attention-seeking behaviors. Individuals may act in a way that is considered inappropriate within their cultural context or in more specific contexts, such as at work. Individuals may appear lively, vibrant, flirtatious or overly seductive, enthusiastic, charming, and be described as “the life of the party.” They are overly concerned about how they look and constantly seek approval and reassurance.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a complex Cluster B mental health illness that may be comorbid with other affective and personality disorders. Narcissistic Personality Disorder usually develops in adolescence or during early adulthood. A combination of environmental, social, genetic, and neurobiological factors are likely to play a role in formulating a narcissistic personality. Exhibited behaviors are protective of their sense of external and internal behaviors and self-esteem. 

  • External behaviors serve as a protective armor (e.g., self-enhanced and self-preoccupied, controlling, insensitive, critical, aggressive, condescending, provocative). 
  • Internal behaviors indicate vulnerability, dysregulation, and compromised abilities (e.g., low self-esteem, self-criticism, insecurity, inferiority, loneliness, isolation, hypersensitivity, fear, rage, shame).

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