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Five Most Common Personality Disorders

Image of faces for our list of major personality disorders

What are personality disorders?

Personality disorders are best described as “a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.” Personality disorders may lead to conflicts with others. In other situations, people with personality disorders may have difficulty in connecting with others. Either way, there may be a tendency to shut oneself off from society and avoid engaging with others. Personality disorders are diagnosed when these patterns of thought and behavior interfere with someone’s daily life. 

What are the different personality disorders? Personality disorders are commonly divided into three clusters.

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Cluster-A Personality Disorders: Eccentric Thinking

Cluster-A personality disorders involve eccentric or odd ways of thinking. This group of personality disorders includes: 

  • paranoid personality disorder
  • schizoid personality disorder
  • schizotypal personality disorder

Paranoid personality disorder, which we explain in more depth below, involves thinking that everyone is out to get you. Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by limited emotional expression and social detachment. Schizotypal personality disorder is much like schizoid personality disorder. The difference is that the person may see things, such as flashes of light, that no one else sees. Cluster-A personality disorders are almost always related to some form of distorted thinking. 

Cluster-B Personality Disorders: Moods and Emotions

personality disorder list

Cluster-B types of personality disorders are characterized by emotional, dramatic, or erratic behaviors. Examples of personality disorders in this category include: 

  • antisocial personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • histrionic personality disorder
  • narcissistic personality disorder

People with antisocial personality disorder do not pay attention to the needs of others. Borderline personality disorder causes the person to experience mood changes. This emotional instability affects their ability to continue with everyday life. Histrionic personality disorder causes the person to feel uncomfortable if they are not the center of attention. People with narcissistic personality disorder believe they are superior to others. Cluster-B personality disorders struggle with overly strong reactions and emotions. 

Cluster-C Personality Disorders: Fear and Anxiety

Cluster-C personality disorders involve fearful thinking. This group includes

  • avoidant personality disorder
  • dependent personality disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Those who suffer from avoidant personality disorder often have a low self-esteem and a low level of confidence. Dependent personality disorder means that the person depends heavily on others for everything. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves a heavy focus on rules, details, and orderliness. Cluster-C types of personality disorders often stem from fear and anxiety. 

What Are Common Personality Disorders?

common personality disorders

Years of research, surveys, and scientific studies have been conducted. But psychologists and sociologists alike still don’t know what the true prevalence of personality disorders is. Most experts estimate that such disorders impact about 6-16 percent of the population. Disorders affect both genders equally. They almost always begin to form at a very young age. Below are five of the most commonly reported personality disorders in today’s society. We also describe symptoms of personality disorders. Are you wondering, how many personality disorders are there? These are just a few. This personality disorders list is not exclusive. There are other personality disorders that are also commonly found, such as borderline personality disorder. 

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Personality Disorders List

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

The most frequently reported personality disorder among American adults is obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. This type of disorder causes an individual to be excessively interested in details. They are interested in scheduling, organization, and rules. This preoccupation stems from a desperate need for perfectionism. It also comes from a deep-seated lack of control over reality. This may cause individuals to: 

  • perpetually procrastinate
  • have difficulty socializing
  • experience an overwhelming sense of constant anxiety 

It should not be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder, abbreviated as OCD. OCD is a different and more serious disorder. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder. It involves someone expecting an unreasonable amount of perfection from others or themselves. These individuals will often take a rigid approach to making decisions. They have a tendency to impose their view of how the world should be on others. This may involve a strict adherence to rules or an excessive amount of caution. Almost eight percent of the population may suffer from OCPD. Often, someone with OCPD does not spend time in relationships or self-care. This is because of their need to be productive. Many of the symptoms of OCPD would actually be quite helpful if they existed in moderation. However, an individual with OCPD usually carries these traits to extremes, creating mental health issues.

According to some sources, a person with OCPD is unlikely to seek treatment. This is because they view their own perfectionism as normal and not as a mental health problem. They are more likely to seek help with their interpersonal relationships than with their personality disorder. However, if they do seek treatment, there are several strategies that are used. One is known as traditional talk therapy. The therapist and patient sit down and talk through the issues that may have gone into the development of OCPD. The mental health professional tries to understand what the patient’s motivations. They hope to help the patient stop engaging in harmful or unhealthy behaviors. Other methods used include:

  • radically open dialectical behavior therapy
  • medication
  • family and couples therapy
  • lifestyle changes

Paranoid Personality Disorder

This disorder is best described as an uncontrollable and persistent distrust of other individuals’ intentions. Those who suffer from this mental health disorder often believe that others are targeting them for abuse, extortion, or other reasons.

These thoughts manifest through the individual’s strong desire to withdraw from society to protect themselves. Sadly, those who suffer from paranoia frequently fail to foster close relationships because of their distrust. Symptoms of may include: 

  • extreme hypervigilance
  • excessive suspiciousness
  • a strong sense of independence
  • remaining guarded and emotionally closed off

Recent studies suggest that nearly five percent of the U.S. population suffers from diagnosed PPD.

Those diagnosed with PPD can have trouble seeing their own role in conflicts. In other words, they may believe that they are always right. Also, they may have difficulty relaxing. They may be stubborn or argumentative. It is usually first diagnosed in early adulthood, and men suffer from PPD more often than women. 

Psychotherapy is often the most effective form of treatment. This can sometimes be difficult. Psychotherapy requires trust between the patient and therapist. Medication is not usually used to treat PPD, although it may be used if the personality disorder is accompanied by mental health issues like depression or anxiety. 

Antisocial Personality Disorder 

Researchers state that four percent of the population suffers from antisocial personality disorder. One of the most common personality traits of those with this disorder is a lack of concern for other people’s needs or rights. This underlying trait causes bigger issues with authority. They may also struggle with social rules and learning from experience. These personality types are frequently: 

  • overly aggressive
  • impulsive
  • irritable
  • lacking in guilt

They are great at socializing superficially and may even seem charming. But most of their relationships are short-lived because they use people for their own ends.

This disorder is not usually diagnosed until the age of 18. Before that, children may have a mental health condition known as conduct disorder. This manifests itself in personality traits like: 

  • aggression towards people or animals
  • deceitfulness
  • a serious disregard for rules

When they grow up, they often retain a lack of attention to the needs of others and a complete lack of guilt. Often, a person with this disorder will have a criminal record. 

It is extremely difficult to treat personality disorders like this one. This is because the patient does not experience the remorse that others experience. They do not see that anything is wrong. They see the things they have done as necessary for their own advancement. Sometimes it takes an encounter with the criminal justice system to get them to see a therapist. Once someone has finally agreed to treatment, cognitive behavioral theory is sometimes effective. Research is still taking place on how best to help those who suffer from antisocial personality disorders. It is difficult to help someone with this disorder learn to understand others’ feelings. However, it is sometimes effective to teach them to act with empathy even if they cannot feel it. They may eventually learn that it is easier to get along in life if they act as if they care about others’ rights, even if they do not. 

Schizoid Personality Disorder 

The American Psychiatric Association estimates that between six and seven million Americans suffer from schizoid personality disorder. People with personality disorders like this one are often struggling with social isolation. This is due to their inherent pattern of social detachment and introversion. Sufferers often have a very restricted range of emotional expression. They are frequently labeled as loners. They are most often indifferent to both criticism and praise. These loners of society are often highly functioning and well-respected community members. This means they are rarely treated through medical intervention.

A person with schizoid personality disorder may want help in developing relationship. A therapist can often help improve their mental health with talk therapy. The therapist will help them think through how they can develop relationships. They will ask about the patient’s feelings, without pushing too hard, until the patient feels able to talk or open up. Another helpful technique can be group therapy. This can allow the person with schizoid personality disorder to put their new interaction skills into practice. 

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is the most difficult disorder for researchers to study. A diagnosis of this condition is still considered highly controversial. Tt is unclear how prevalent this disorder truly is. The disorder presents itself as

  • an extreme sense of grandiosity
  • a failure to take accountability for one’s actions
  • a lack of empathy for others

Some selfishness may be necessary for survival. But malignant narcissists take this to an unimaginable level. These individuals are driven to become some of the most successful, famous, and wealthy members of society. Any failings are blamed on scapegoated victims. The narcissistic individual cannot accept personal responsibility for their actions. Experts estimate that around one percent of the population suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. The exact number is hard to determine. Because of their extreme egotism, they rarely ever seek treatment. They don’t even see an issue with their own behaviors. When called out by others, they are skilled at deflecting the blame and avoiding a diagnosis.

If a person with narcissistic personality disorder does seek treatment, however, it is often in the form of talk therapy. The therapist can help the patient talk through what is happening. They will help them understand that healthy relationships will be more enjoyable. They can also help the patient to understand where their emotions come from. Talk therapy is the main form of treatment. Medication is sometimes used if the person also suffers from depression or anxiety. 

In conclusion, much more work needs to be done to spread knowledge about these serious, yet very common, personality disorders. 


September 2023


This concludes our list of the five most common personality disorders.