Personality Disorders, Cluster A Overview
Personality Disorders, Cluster A, are a very complex group of mental illnesses. They are characterized by long-term patterns of eccentric thinking and behaviors that are unhealthy and inflexible. Typically, this group of mental illnesses is diagnosed in adulthood because they 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 especially in activities of daily living. Personality disorders are the most common of all psychiatric diagnoses.
Four defining characteristics of all personality disorders are:
- Distorted patterns of thinking
- Problematic emotional responses
- Interpersonal difficulties.
- Over- or under-regulated impulse control
Ten different personality disorders have been divided into three clusters:
- Cluster A – the odd, eccentric cluster
- Cluster B – the dramatic, emotional, erratic cluster
- Cluster C – the anxious, fearful cluster
Those diagnosed with a Personality Disorder, Cluster A, find it hard to relate to others. They tend to exhibit some common features including social awkwardness, social withdrawal, a tendency to behave in a way that others consider unusual or eccentric, and distorted thinking
Personality Disorders, Cluster A, presents information on four types of disorders, one type each day for four days. These are:
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder is a Cluster A mental illness involving odd, eccentric, and profoundly cynical views of others and the world. It is characterized by a sustained pattern of behavior that involves suspicion, fear of being exploited or betrayed, detachment, and social isolation. The individual’s emotional life tends to be dominated by distrust and hostility. Individuals diagnosed with this disorder tend to assume that others are out to harm them, take advantage of them, or humiliate them in some way. They put a great deal of effort into protecting themselves and keeping their distance from others. They are known to preemptively attack others by whom they feel threatened. They tend to hold grudges, are litigious, and display pathological jealously.
Typically, a paranoid personality disorder is diagnosed by early adulthood. However, there is some evidence that symptoms may be apparent in childhood and adolescence. The exact cause of Paranoid Personality Disorder is unknown.
Schizoid Personality Disorders
The Schizoid Personality Disorder is a mental illness thought to be rather rare. It is characterized by the lack of desire to show emotions, affection, or intimacy. This disorder may be related to Schizophrenia but is not as severe. It is expressed in a pervasive pattern of social detachment along with a restricted range of emotional expression. For these reasons, people with this disorder tend to be socially isolated. They do not seem to seek out or enjoy close relationships. The specific cause of Schizoid Personality Disorder is not known.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
The Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal limitations. Unlike Schizophrenia, however, with a defining feature of psychosis resulting in a loss of reality testing, those with Schizotypal Personality Disorder tend to be in touch with reality and usually don’t experience hallucinations or delusions. They may experience perceptual and cognitive distortions, however. These perceptual abnormalities may include noticing flashes of light that no one else sees or perceiving objects or shadows in the corner of their eyes and then realizing that nothing is there.
They experience acute discomfort in social settings and have a reduced capacity for close relationships. They also tend to have odd beliefs that have no basis in reality. For these reasons they tend to be socially isolated, reserved, and distant. No specific cause for Schizotypal Personal Disorder has been identified.
Personality Disorder Due to Medical Condition
Personality Disorder due to Medical Condition is a mental illness that occurs when there is a persistent personality alteration that represents a change from the individual’s previous characteristic personality pattern with evidence of the direct effect of a medical condition. (In children, the alteration involves a marked deviation from normal development or a significant change in the child’s usual behavior patterns, lasting at least one year.)
It is characterized by clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, but does not meet the full criteria for any specific mental disorder attributable to another medical condition. There is evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the disturbance is the direct pathophysiological consequence of another medical condition. There is also evidence that the behavioral alteration is not better explained by another mental disorder (including another mental disorder due to another medical condition.
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