The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies personality disorders into three distinct clusters: Odd/Eccentric, Dramatic/Erratic, and Anxious/Inhibited.
The complete inventory of component disorders constituting each cluster is shown below.
Please note that personality disorders are defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as follows: “…an enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it.”
Diagnoses should not, and cannot, be made simply from a cursory reading of the following symptomatology.
Instead, diagnoses are made by professional clinicians on the basis of structured interviews and specialized psychometric testing procedures.
These descriptions, while informative, serve only as a rough guide to general personality predispositions.
ODD / ECCENTRIC
Schizotypal: Eccentric appearance and thought processes; not overtly schizophrenic but may hear voices or sense presences; odd beliefs such as telepathy or being able to communicate with the dead; often difficult to sustain a conversation with – rambles, or talks to self; sometimes creative.
Paranoid: Extremely suspicious of others; prone to bearing grudges; never gives the ‘benefit of the doubt’; hostile and prickly interpersonal style; jealous and holds cards close to chest; few, if any, long-term friends; occasional expressions of anger, but otherwise a ‘cold fish’.
Schizoid: Acutely introverted and withdrawn, preferring own company to that of others; often seen as ‘distant’ and a ‘loner’; tends to live in a fantasy world, but not out of touch with reality (as in schizophrenia); poor social skills.
DRAMATIC / ERRATIC
Antisocial: Failure to attend to the feelings of others; difficulty in forming close relationships; actions often performed on the spur of the moment; absence of guilt or conscience; inability to apprehend consequences and learn from experience.
Borderline: Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness that can sometimes lead to self-harm or suicide; history of stormy relationships; emotional instability characterized by frequent, and/or dramatic changes in mood; fluctuating self-esteem; tendency to categorize others as either ‘for you’ or ‘against you’.
Histrionic: Over-reaction to, and over dramatization of, everyday events; loves to grab the spotlight and be the center of attention; vampish; seductive; excessive preoccupation with image and appearance; exaggerated sense of own self-worth.
Narcissistic: Excessive desire for power, status and success; elaborate and persistent attention-seeking; manipulates others for own self-interest; charming and charismatic exterior conceals a heartless, self-centered core; ‘Me, me, me’ mentality.
ANXIOUS / INHIBITED
Avoidant: Deep-seated feelings of inferiority; heightened sensitivity to criticism; would love to be accepted, but unprepared to risk rejection; anxious, tense, and plagued by insecurity; frequently makes excuses to avoid social situations
Dependent: Over-reliance on others to make decisions, and overly-compliant with what others want to do; feelings of hopelessness and incompetence; history of clingy, cloying relationships; often feels ‘abandoned’ if significant others do their own thing; constantly seeks approval.
Obsessive-compulsive: Highly perfectionistic and pedantic, and preoccupied with the finer details; ruminative and overly controlled, especially when making decisions; has inflexibly high standards which can impinge on both work and personal relationships; often authoritarian. (To be distinguished from Obsessive-compulsive disorder.)