Personality Disorders: Cluster C’s

May 27, 2023

The third cluster of personality disorders are classified as anxious and fearful. They include avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive, which are grouped together because of their shared traits regarding discomfort and nervousness. OCPD often involves someone’s reactions to the world around them and the idiosyncrasies of how they manage their life, while avoidant and dependent PD are mostly related to one’s interactions with others.

Avoidant personality disorder is basically a consistently extreme reaction to the outside world. People with AVPD are very uncomfortable with social situations and the things that come with them: criticism and rejection, meeting new people, etc. Often, people with this disorder will avoid social situations completely because of their fears, and try to keep from becoming too close with people so they won’t have to handle rejection, even when it’s only perceived. 

More than just disliking social situations or being socially awkward, people with AVPD go so far as to avoid work and school situations because they feel incapable of functioning in them. When they are forced to be in these situations, they’re often anxious and quiet, vigorously studying those around them for insight into their apparent rejection. Because of this, people with AVPD often have trouble genuinely paying attention to what others are saying, and thus their personal relationships and quality of life are often greatly hindered.

Contrasting the way folks with AVPD try to stay away from close relationships, people with the second Cluster C disorder, dependent personality disorder, can only function when they have someone to depend on for most things. Submissive and clingy, people with dependent PD are reliant on others in almost every stage and aspect of their lives. They’re often unwilling to make plans or decisions alone and refuse to do things by themselves; even if the person they depend on leaves them, truly dependent personalities will either be unable to function or will simply find another person to cling to. 

Because of their disorder, people with dependent PD are also willing to be in unhealthy and abusive relationships even when they recognize that the relationship is negative. This often becomes a long-term dynamic of someone going from person to person, bouncing from abusive relationship to abusive relationship, merely because of their desperation to not be alone. Since most abusers enjoy being depended on and know that they can take advantage of dependent personalities, people with dependent PD are at a higher risk for abuse and general maltreatment from partners.

OCPD is the last personality disorder, and it’s characterized by a rigidity and specificity that the person relies on daily. Different from OCD because it doesn’t involve compulsions and is more ingrained in one’s lifestyle, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves particular ways of existing that usually only make sense to the person with the disorder; without them, the person gets upset and uncomfortable.

Obsessed with perfection, neatness, and having things done “right,” people with OCPD can have difficulty getting along with others because of their need to have everything done their way. Those that know or work with OCPD individuals describe them as bossy, rigid, and inflexible, which obviously puts a strain on relationships. People with OCPD also tend towards anger when things aren’t done as they see fit, which doesn’t help either. As a whole, these things are unlikely to change unless the person recognizes their problem. 

The issue with this is that most people with personality disorders, unless they’re particularly severe, don’t realize that they have a problem. If they do notice their own idiosyncrasies, they’re often written off as “quirks” and never looked into again, which is why personality disorders are most often diagnosed in therapy or, unfortunately, prison. Most of these disorders have great potential to cause other mental illnesses, too, like chronic depression and anxiety, which means that the root of the problem can get overlooked as a person focuses on treating the resulting issues. 

This month we’ve covered schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, agoraphobia, and all three personality disorder clusters. We’ll finish mental health month by going over altered states of being, including catatonia, delirium, and psychosis. Remember that you can access our free chat service, review our written articles, and buy BMS merch at https://bymyside.support/, and follow us on social media @Bymysidesupport! 

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