Overview – Personality Disorders, Cluster C
Personality Disorders, Cluster C, involves a group of mental illnesses that involve long-term patterns of thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. Cluster C disorders are known as the “anxious, fearful” cluster and include three disorders that share anxious and fearful features. They are characterized by:
- Avoidant behaviors (social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation).
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors (preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control).
- Dependent behaviors (submissive, clinging, and fearful of separation).
There is a tendency for personality disorders within the same cluster to co-occur, meaning that an individual may be diagnosed with more than one personality disorder. Those diagnosed with Cluster C personality disorders may be seen by others as antisocial or withdrawn. They tend to behave in anxious or avoidant ways and often need things to be orderly and controlled.
As with other personality disorders, Cluster C demonstrates four defining characteristics In order to be diagnosed with a personality Disorder in Cluster C, the individual must exhibit at least two of the four defining characteristics:
- Distorted thinking patterns
- Problematic emotional responses
- Over- or under-regulate impulse control
- Interpersonal difficulties.
Information is presented about four types of Personality Disorders in Cluster C, one type each day for four days. These are:
Avoidant Personality Disorder
An Avoidant Personality Disorder is a Cluster C mental illness that involves the anxious and fearful behaviors. It is characterized by a pervasive pattern of behavior that involves feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and inferiority. Those with this diagnosis tend to avoid being around people because they fear others will criticize or reject them. They may believe that they will never measure up to what is expected of them. The exact cause is unknown but environmental factors and genetics may play a role.
To be diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder, the individual must exhibit at least four of seven criteria:
- Avoids occupational activities involving significant interpersonal contact, due to fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
- Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of acceptance
- Shows restraint within intimate relationships due to fears of shame or ridicule
- Preoccupied with fears of receiving criticism or rejection in social situations
- Inhibited in new interpersonal situations due to feelings of inadequacy
- Considers self as inferior to others, socially inept, or personally unappealing
- Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
Dependent Personality Disorder
Dependent Personality Disorder is a Cluster C mental illness that involves fearful and anxious behaviors. It is characterized by an excessive and pervasive need to be taken care of. It is a long-term condition in which people depend on others to meet their emotional and physical needs, with only a minority ever achieving normal levels of independence. The core feature is a strong need to be taken care of by others.
A diagnosis may be made based on an excessive and pervasive need to be taken care of that includes submissive, clinging, needy behavior due to fear of abandonment. This may be exhibited as:
- Difficulty making routine decisions without input, reassurance, and advice
- Requires others to assume responsibilities which they should be attending to.
- Fear of disagreeing with others and risking disapproval.
- Difficulty starting projects without support from others.
- Excessive need to obtain nurturance and support from others,
- Feels vulnerable and helpless when alone.
- Desperately seeks another relationship when one ends.
- Unrealistic preoccupation with being left alone and unable to care for the self .
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder is a Cluster C mental illness that represents one of the most common personality disorders. It is characterized by an excessive need for orderliness, neatness, and perfectionism. There is a pervasive need for mental and interpersonal control. This need for control and sameness often leads to a loss of flexibility and efficiency. Symptoms are usually present by the time a person reaches adulthood and are visible in a variety of situations. The personality traits are stable, long-held, atypical, and problematic in some way.
Some forms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder also present as obsession with work and productivity to the point of complete exclusion of leisure activities and interpersonal relationships. Individuals presenting in this manner will often refuse to delegate tasks unless others will follow the same methods of doing things, despite being overwhelmed by their workload. Their devotion to perfectionism and rigid control can make it difficult for them to function. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality disorder involves an excessive need for orderliness, neatness, and perfection. Unfortunately, the individual tries to impose their personal standards for orderliness, neatness, and perfection on others, which can be stressful for all types of relationships.
Other Specified Personality Disorder
Other Specified Personality Disorder is a mental disorder that does not meet the characteristics of any one of the ten Personality Disorder. Symptoms may align with several different personality disorders. This diagnosis is given when an individual has the characteristics of a personality disorder, but those characteristics do not fully meet the criteria for any specific Personality Disorder. The person may even have a variety of symptoms from several of the ten personality disorders:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
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