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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list ten standalone personality disorders and based on similar characteristics, each personality disorder is grouped into one of three categories (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). The Oxford English Dictionary defines a personality disorder as “a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior of a specified kind that deviates markedly from the norms of generally accepted behavior, typically apparent by the time of adolescence, and causing long-term difficulties in personal relationships or in functioning in society.” To tell if your partner has a personality disorder it is helpful to have a general understanding of the different types.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

Cluster A personality disorders, as defined by the Mayo Clinic are characterized by eccentric, odd thinking and/ or behavior. Cluster A personality disorders include:

  • Paranoid personality disorder: characterized by a pervasive distrust of others. Individuals with paranoid personality disorder are highly suspicious of other’s motives and have a consistent, erroneous fear that others intend to inflict harm. 
  • Schizoid personality disorder: characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships and difficulty displaying emotion (e.g., emotional coldness, apathy, detachment, etc.). 
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: characterized by a pattern of intense discomfort with close relationships, social anxiety, and distrust of others. 

Though each is a separate condition, they all involve symptoms of exhibiting unusual or eccentric behaviors to others, which can lead to interpersonal and/ or social difficulties. 

Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B personality disorders, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, are characterized by patterns of overly emotional, unpredictable, dramatic thinking and/ or behaviors. Cluster B personality disorders include:

Individuals diagnosed with a cluster B personality disorder are typically faced with difficulty regulating emotions and will likely have issues maintaining relationships. 

Cluster C Personality Disorders

Cluster C personality disorders, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. Cluster C personality disorders include:

  • Avoidant personality disorder: characterized by the avoidance of social situations or interactions that involve risk of rejection, criticism, or humiliation.
  • Dependent personality disorder: characterized by a pervasive, excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissiveness and clinging behaviors.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: characterized by a pervasive preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control (with no room for flexibility) that ultimately slows or interferes with completing a task.

While is helpful to be on the lookout for warning signs, to conclusively know if your partner has a personality disorder a professional evaluation is required.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times. Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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