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The Characteristics of Cluster C Personality Disorders

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/3/2011

Personality disorders are grouped into three broad categories or clusters based on overall similarities. This article highlights the characteristics of Cluster C personalities which includes anxious and fearful behaviors.

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    What is a Personality Disorder?

    Individuals who suffer from a personality disorder often demonstrate inflexible and maladaptive patterns of relating, perceiving and behaving. They are rigid in terms of their thinking and their behavior creates problems in their daily lives, relationships and their ability to function in society.

    There are basically ten personality disorders grouped into three clusters:-

    Cluster A Personality Disorders are those characterized by odd and eccentric behavior commonly seen in Paranoid, Schizoid and Schizotypal Personality Disorders.

    Cluster B Personality Disorders are distinguished by dramatic, erratic behaviors. Histrionic, Narcissistic, Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders are in this category.

    Cluster C Personality Disorders include anxious and fearful behaviors such as those commonly found in Obsessive-Compulsive, Avoidant and Dependent Personality Disorders.

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    General Characteristics of Cluster C Personality Disorders

    Individuals in this cluster of PD are often anxious and fearful. They are isolated, demonstrate passive-aggressiveness, masochistic and compulsive or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. They also need things to be orderly and controlled.

    1. Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) - People with this personality disorder are usually very shy, socially inhibited and lonely. They display a pattern of inferiority, inadequacy with low self-esteem and are hypersensitive to criticism. Patients with AvPD are desperate for relationships; however they tend to avoid social contact for fear or disapproval and rejection. Being extremely self-conscious, they also tend to gravitate towards jobs that involve minimal interpersonal contact.
    2. Dependent personality disorder (DPD) - People with DPD are characterized by their need to be taken care of, passiveness and submissive behavior. They tend to cling to people with whom they depend on, are often unsure of themselves, rely on others to make decisions for them and exhibit a sense of helplessness. They have an intense fear of separation and require excessive reassurance and guidance. Sometimes they can be passive-aggressive because they have a difficult time expressing disagreement with others. Being overly sensitive to criticism and lacking in confidence they also have difficulty initiating activities.
    3. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) - People suffering from OCPD are inhibited, rigid and obsessed with perfection. They lack flexibility even when it interferes with their ability to complete tasks. Often preoccupied with orderliness, they are also fastidious but sometimes get very little accomplished. People with OCPD are also immovable when it comes to matters of morality, ethics and values to an absurd point, which is often way beyond cultural norms. They tend to set impossibly high standards for themselves and others and these unrealistic expectations can prove to be quite damaging to personal relationships mostly because the OCPD person is highly critical of those who do not live up to their lofty standards. Not surprisingly these people are also workaholics and prefer to work alone.

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