Personality Disorders and Its Types
A discussion on the different types of personality disorders must be preceded by a study on how the concept of personality came into being and how the philosophers began to identify aberrant personality conditions.
The breakdown of the population into different character types began as early as 4th century BC by a scholar name Tyrtamus (371-287 BC) who identified close to 30 personality types and went on to box his contemporaries into those categories. The concept of a personality ‘disorder’ took flight much later in the 19th century when Philippe Pinel first documented to condition that later went on to be called mania. Closer to the end of the 19th century, Emil Kraeplin opened the discussion on the different types of personality disorders and the list he constructed was further expanded by his protégé Kurt Schneider. Schneider’s work formed the touchstone for the current, globally-accepted gold standard on mental disorders, the DSM-5.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, shines some more light on the subject, postulating that mental disorders are quite consistent across different spheres of one’s life, and often cannot be explained by medication or some other external factor. DSM-5 goes on to list ten personality disorders and clusters them into three groups: A, B and C.
Cluster ‘A’ Personality Disorders
Cluster A personality disorders are all bizarre, odd and eccentric. Paranoid personality type, as the name suggests, describes a subset of people who feel as if the world is out to get them. They are sensitive and hold grudges easily and extremely mistrustful, even of friends and family. Paranoid types tend to ‘project’ their insecurities and how they feel on to other people. Schizoid personalities are extremely introverted, often avoiding romantic and platonic relationships, because they would much rather be left along with their own daydreams.
Schizotypal disorder is often a precursor to full blown schizophrenia and people who suffer from it are often extremely eccentric in their appearance, mannerisms and speech. A good example of this would be the character ‘Xenophillius Lovegood’ in the Harry Potter narrative. They tend to have strange ideas of reference and believe in magic.
Cluster ‘B’ Personality Disorders
Cluster B disorders include narcissistic, histrionic, borderline and antisocial. Anti-social personality disorder should really be anti-society, because people with this subtype have a general lack of regard for social rules and regulations and it is the most common personality type associated with crimes. Men suffer from it more so than women and it presents as a lack of empathy, impulsivity, and no sense of guilt. The scary part is, people with this personality type are often quite charming, albeit at a very superficial level, because they fail to understand human emotions at a much deeper level.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) stems from an intense lack of sense of self and resultant emotional instability. It is characterized by a sense of emptiness and a fear of abandonment. It is not uncommon for people with this personality type to enter unstable, even abusive relationships and self-harm is a hallmark of this condition as well. Suicidal ideation is something to watch out for here as well.
A narcissist has an extremely inflated sense of self-esteem and expects others to worship them the way they worship themselves. This bloated sense of self often leads to issues, because narcissists don’t take criticism very well, often reacting furiously to ‘constructive feedback’, because they consider themselves beyond flaw and they were genuinely surprised when other people criticize them.
A histrionic, like someone with BPD has a weak sense of self-esteem so they rely heavily on the attention of others for their self-worth. They love the spotlight and do outrageous things to get attention.
Cluster ‘C’ Personality Disorders
The last cluster, cluster C, comprises of Avoidant, Dependent and Obsessive-Compulsive personalities. Avoidants suffer from pathologically low self-esteem and they feel themselves inferior to others which is why they often stay away from social interaction. Dependents, too, lack confidence in themselves and that causes them to latch on to others to provide their self-esteem for them. And obsessive-compulsive personality types have an addiction to meticulous detail and perfectionism that tends to make them rigid and unyielding.