Personality Disorders Community

Types of Personality Disorders

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Here are the different types of personality disorders along with the characteristics of each type of personality disorder.

As mentioned previously, personality disorders are grouped into three clusters. Cluster A personality disorders involve odd or eccentric behavior; cluster B, dramatic or erratic behavior; and cluster C, anxious or inhibited behavior.

Cluster A: Odd or Eccentric Behavior

Paranoid Personality: People with a paranoid personality are distrustful and suspicious of others. Based on little or no evidence, they suspect that others are out to harm them and usually find hostile or malicious motives behind other people's actions. Thus, people with a paranoid personality may take actions that they feel are justifiable retaliation but that others find baffling. This behavior often leads to rejection by others, which seems to justify their original feelings. They are generally cold and distant in their relationships. (more detailed info on Paranoid Personality Disorder)


People with a paranoid personality often take legal action against others, especially if they feel righteously indignant. They are unable to see their own role in a conflict. They usually work in relative isolation and may be highly efficient and conscientious.

Sometimes people who already feel alienated because of a defect or handicap (such as deafness) are more likely to suspect that other people have negative ideas or attitudes toward them. Such heightened suspicion, however, is not evidence of a paranoid personality unless it involves wrongly attributing malice to others.

Schizoid Personality: People with a schizoid personality are introverted, withdrawn, and solitary. They are emotionally cold and socially distant. They are most often absorbed with their own thoughts and feelings and are fearful of closeness and intimacy with others. They talk little, are given to daydreaming, and prefer theoretical speculation to practical action. Fantasizing is a common coping (defense) mechanism. (more detailed info on Schizoid Personality Disorder)

personality-disorders-main-05-healthyplaceSchizotypal Personality:
People with a schizotypal personality, like those with a schizoid personality, are socially and emotionally detached. In addition, they display oddities of thinking, perceiving, and communicating similar to those of people with schizophrenia (see Schizophrenia and Delusional Disorder: Schizophrenia). Although schizotypal personality is sometimes present in people with schizophrenia before they become ill, most adults with a schizotypal personality do not develop schizophrenia. (more detailed info on Schizotypal Personality Disorder)

Some people with a schizotypal personality show signs of magical thinking that is, they believe that their thoughts or actions can control something or someone. For example, people may believe that they can harm others by thinking angry thoughts. People with a schizotypal personality may also have paranoid ideas.

Cluster B: Dramatic or Erratic Behavior

Histrionic (Hysterical) Personality: People with a histrionic personality conspicuously seek attention, are dramatic and excessively emotional, and are overly concerned with appearance. Their lively, expressive manner results in easily established but often superficial and transient relationships. Their expression of emotions often seems exaggerated, childish, and contrived to evoke sympathy or attention (often erotic or sexual) from others.
People with a histrionic personality are prone to sexually provocative behavior or to sexualizing nonsexual relationships. However, they may not really want a sexual relationship; rather, their seductive behavior often masks their wish to be dependent and protected. Some people with a histrionic personality also are hypochondriacal and exaggerate their physical problems to get the attention they need. (more detailed info on Histrionic Personality Disorder)

Narcissistic Personality: People with a narcissistic personality have a sense of superiority, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. They have an exaggerated belief in their own value or importance, which is what therapists call grandiosity. They may be extremely sensitive to failure, defeat, or criticism. When confronted by a failure to fulfill their high opinion of themselves, they can easily become enraged or severely depressed. Because they believe themselves to be superior in their relationships with other people, they expect to be admired and often suspect that others envy them. They believe they are entitled to having their needs met without waiting, so they exploit others, whose needs or beliefs they deem to be less important. Their behavior is usually offensive to others, who view them as being self-centered, arrogant, or selfish. This personality disorder typically occurs in high achievers, although it may also occur in people with few achievements. (more detailed info on Narcissistic Personality Disorder)

Antisocial Personality: People with an antisocial personality (previously called psychopathic or sociopathic personality), most of whom are male, show callous disregard for the rights and feelings of others. Dishonesty and deceit permeate their relationships. They exploit others for material gain or personal gratification (unlike narcissistic people, who exploit others because they think their superiority justifies it).

Characteristically, people with an antisocial personality act out their conflicts impulsively and irresponsibly. They tolerate frustration poorly, and sometimes they are hostile or violent. Often they do not anticipate the negative consequences of their antisocial behaviors and, despite the problems or harm they cause others, do not feel remorse or guilt. Rather, they glibly rationalize their behavior or blame it on others. Frustration and punishment do not motivate them to modify their behaviors or improve their judgment and foresight but, rather, usually confirm their harshly unsentimental view of the world.

People with an antisocial personality are prone to alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual deviation, promiscuity, and imprisonment. They are likely to fail at their jobs and move from one area to another. They often have a family history of antisocial behavior, substance abuse, divorce, and physical abuse. As children, many were emotionally neglected and physically abused. People with an antisocial personality have a shorter life expectancy than the general population. The disorder tends to diminish or stabilize with age. (more detailed info on Antisocial Personality Disorder)

Consequences of Personality Disorders

  • People with a personality disorder are at high risk of behaviors that can lead to physical illness (such as alcohol or drug addiction); self-destructive behavior, reckless sexual behavior, hypochondriasis, and clashes with society's values.
  • They may have inconsistent, detached, overemotional, abusive, or irresponsible styles of parenting, leading to medical and psychiatric problems in their children.

  • They are vulnerable to mental breakdowns (a period of crisis when a person has difficulty performing even routine mental tasks) as a result of stress.

  • They may develop a mental health disorder; the type (for example, anxiety, depression, or psychosis) depends in part on the type of personality disorder.

  • They are less likely to follow a prescribed treatment regimen; even when they follow the regimen, they are usually less responsive to drugs than most people are.

  • They often have a poor relationship with their doctor because they refuse to take responsibility for their behavior or they feel overly distrustful, deserving, or needy. The doctor may then start to blame, distrust, and ultimately reject the person.