What are the different types of personality disorders?

A personality disorder is a mental health disorder that involves persistent thoughts and behaviors that prevent a person from functioning properly in society. Nearly 10% of the U.S. population has at least one personality disorder.

It is possible for personality disorders to be comorbid, which means that the same person may have a personality and another mental health condition. Furthermore, they can have characteristics of more than one personality disorder at the same time, either in the same cluster or in different clusters. The characteristics of personality disorders depend on the specific group and disorder.

Read on to learn about each group and specific diseases, what causes them, and how to diagnose, treat, and manage them.

Personality Disorder Classification

according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are 10 different personality disorders. These diseases are divided into three main groups: group A, group B, and group C.

In addition to these personality disorders, a person may be diagnosed with another specific or unspecified personality disorder, meaning that their personality disorder does not qualify for a diagnosis of one of the 10 personality disorders.

Cluster A

  • paranoid personality disorder
  • schizotypal personality disorder
  • schizotype personality disorder

Cluster B

  • antisocial personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • posturing personality disorder
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder

cluster C

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder
  • dependent personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

unspecified personality disorder

Group A personality disorder

Group A personality disorders involve challenges in interacting with others. Paranoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder are group A personality disorders.

A person with one of these personality disorders may have a tendency to be considered odd or eccentric:

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder: Paranoid personality disorder involves persistent patterns of distrust and doubt. People with this personality disorder may interpret the motives of others as malicious (malicious or hostile). They may tend to expect others to deceive or hurt them, and are easily offended.
  • Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Schizotypal Personality Disorder includes a chronic lack of interest in intimacy, indifference to praise and criticism, indifference to the feelings of others, and limited affection and feelings for others. People with schizotypal personality disorder tend to avoid socializing with others and situations in which they might interact with others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: Schizotypal personality disorder involves strange, eccentric thoughts, ideas, words, and behaviors. While symptoms are severe enough to be diagnosed as a personality disorder, they are not enough to be diagnosed as schizophrenia, a mental disorder.

Group B personality disorder

Group B personality disorders involve challenges in controlling emotions. Antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder are group B personality disorders.

People with one of these personality disorders may have tendencies that are considered dramatic, emotional, or unstable:

  • Antisocial Personality Disorder: Antisocial personality disorder is also known as antisocial personality, psychopathic personality, and antisocial personality. It involves not caring about the rights of others, leading to repeated violations of those rights. People with this personality disorder often break the law and hurt others without feeling guilty or able to develop empathy for the person they hurt.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline personality disorder involves persistently unstable patterns of relationships, self-image, and emotions that affect functioning in work or social settings and cause severe distress. People with this personality disorder may struggle with substance use disorder, overeating, self-harm, strong mood swings, outbursts, or an unstable self-image or self-concept.

Signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder

  • Hereditary Personality Disorder: Hereditary personality disorder, formerly known as hysterical personality disorder, involves a pattern of exaggerated emotions and attention-seeking. People with histrionic personality disorder may be perceived by others as self-centered.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves an expansive sense of self-importance, fulfillment, and competence. People with this personality disorder are often unable to empathize with others.

Group C personality disorder

Type C personality disorder involves challenges with intense fear or anxiety. Avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder belong to category C personality disorders and are:

  • Avoidant Personality Disorder: Avoidant Personality Disorder involves a pattern of hypersensitivity, inadequate feelings, and social inhibition (conscious or subconscious avoidance of social interaction) in the face of criticism or rejection. People with this personality disorder experience symptoms so severe that their ability to work and maintain healthy relationships is compromised, and they experience distress.
  • Dependent Personality Disorder: Dependent Personality Disorder is a pattern of excessive need for care, compliance, and fear of separation.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves excessive perfectionism, a need for order, an inability to compromise, and a preoccupation with rules, order, and work. Unlike people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), people with this personality disorder feel that their thoughts and actions are justified rather than distressed, so they are less likely to see their symptoms as a problem.

Causes and Risk Factors

It’s not entirely clear what causes personality disorders. Research suggests that a genetic component may be involved in their development.

Abuse and childhood trauma and neglect are also potential contributors to personality disorders. For example, people who have experienced childhood trauma have been found to be more likely to develop borderline personality disorder.

Other environmental and situational factors may influence the development of personality disorders, including experiences and relationships, even those unrelated to trauma, neglect, or abuse.

Child Abuse Hotline

If you are a victim of child abuse or know someone who may have been abused, please call or text the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453 to speak with a professional crisis counselor.

For more mental health resources, see our national helpline database.

Personality disorders can co-occur with other disorders in the same person, which is called comorbidity. For example, people with mood disorders have a high risk of developing at least one personality disorder.

In addition, the incidence of personality disorders is higher in people who struggle with addiction (substance use disorder). However, it is unclear whether one cause causes the other, or whether they are more likely to occur together for other reasons.

Diagnosis and Management

Personality disorders are diagnosed by a qualified medical professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. This is done by assessing symptoms and the whole person. The process may include a physical examination, a complete medical history, questionnaires, and tests to rule out any other possible explanation for the symptoms.

Personality disorders are primarily treated through psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. The most common forms of psychotherapy used to treat personality disorders include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • group therapy
  • Psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapy
  • Psychoeducational and Supportive Therapy

While there are currently no medications specifically designed to treat personality disorders, medications can be used to treat some of the symptoms of personality disorders. Even with effective treatments, sometimes personality disorders go untreated because people with these symptoms and challenges don’t always seek help.

Mental Health Hotline

If you or a loved one is struggling with a personality disorder, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our national helpline database.


Personality disorders are mental health disorders that cause significant functional impairment or subjective distress. There are 10 specific personality disorders, and other specific personality disorders that do not meet the specific requirements of one of the other ten personality disorders.

Specific personality disorders are organized by type, classified as A, B, or C personality disorders.

While the exact cause is unknown, personality disorders can result from genetics, abuse, childhood neglect, and other developmental experiences. People with personality disorders may be at increased risk for other psychiatric disorders. Personality disorders can be effectively treated with psychotherapy. Medications can also be used to control symptoms.

VigorTip words

Experiencing symptoms of a personality disorder or suspecting a possible personality disorder can be difficult. It can be difficult not only for those with symptoms, but for those around them, including family and friends.

Get help if you or someone you know is struggling with a personality disorder or a suspected personality disorder. Seek support from a qualified healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

With treatments such as psychotherapy, it is possible to overcome many of the daily challenges associated with personality disorders and live a healthy and happy life.