Personality Disorders: Cluster A’s

May 27, 2023

Personality disorders are mental illnesses in which individuals consistently display unhealthy patterns of thinking, relating to themselves, others, and the world, that result in oddities in social functioning and behavior. They first made an appearance in the original DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), which was published in 1952. At the time, only six were listed; since then, psychologists have defined ten different personality disorders divided into three separate categories.

Diagnosis of personality disorders require that a person’s thoughts and actions are significantly altered from those of the average person, and that this affects the person and/or their loved ones in day-to-day life. It’s also generally acknowledged that people with personality disorders act differently than others, and that usually this difference is starkly noticeable in the person’s interactions with others. They often don’t recognize that they have a problem.

Personality disorders are separated into Cluster A’s, Cluster B’s, and Cluster C’s. Defined by a predilection towards strange mannerisms, beliefs and behavior that affect one’s social functioning, Cluster A is comprised of what’s called odd and eccentric disorders. All of these involve difficulty interacting with others and a fear of social situations, which often result in other people being uncomfortable around Cluster A individuals.

The first Cluster A disorder is paranoid personality disorder, which is exactly how it sounds. A person with this mental illness is distrustful, suspicious, and wary of things, like hidden meanings or intentionally cruel innuendos, that often aren’t there. They have problems maintaining relationships due to this lack of trust, even when they’ve known someone for a long time. These traits manifest differently in different people; individuals may be hostile and hypervigilant, distant and aloof, or argumentative and cantankerous due to their innate feelings of suspicion towards others.

The second Cluster A condition is schizoid personality disorder, which involves detachment and disinterest in social relationships. More than just being introverted, people with this disorder are often disturbingly solitary, preferring to engage in activities alone and being unbothered by lack of social interaction. They also have a limited range of emotions, lack the ability to differentiate between different social cues, and often don’t care about others’ opinions, responding indifferently to criticism and praise. Schizoid personality disorder generally manifests as indifference and detachment from other people.

The final Cluster A affliction is called schizotypal personality disorder. People with schizotypal PD often don’t understand social behaviors or how to make or maintain relationships, resulting in anxiety with and avoidance of social situations. They often speak strangely, rambling for long periods or making vaguely coherent comments when others are speaking. They also often have deluded or peculiar beliefs, including delusions about their own importance, similar to megalomania or narcissistic personality disorder.

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