Someone with paranoid personality disorder will be extremely suspicious and distrustful of others. They may believe that people want to take advantage of them or harm them in some way. These individuals are very protective of their personal space and do not confide in others. They also tend to hold grudges. Many will wrongfully accuse a spouse of being unfaithful to them.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
Personality disorders are a group of mental health conditions that involve an inflexible and disturbed way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that can cause impairment in interpersonal relationships. Personality disorders can cause difficulty functioning in daily life, problems in managing emotions and behavior, and unstable relationships.
There are three types of personality disorders, organized into the A, B, and C clusters. Cluster A features eccentric or odd personality traits, Cluster B features dramatic or erratic personality traits, and Cluster C features fearful or anxious personality traits. Accurate diagnosis of the specific cluster type, and then the disorder within that cluster is key to designing an effective treatment plan for managing the personality disorder.
Personality disorders are very complex, and as of yet there has been no definitive cause identified. However, there is evidence that trauma or abuse experienced during childhood may place someone at a higher risk of developing a personality disorder. Other possible factors include genetics, environment, and negative life events.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by unusual or distorted thought and behavior patterns that lead others to feel uncomfortable, and which can cause social problems in addition to negatively impacting other areas of life.
There are three subtypes of the Cluster A personality disorders:
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
The individual with a schizoid personality disorder will express a limited range of emotions and prefer social detachment. They may seem cold and unresponsive to either praise or criticism. They may appear to be socially awkward, lacking the ability to recognize or respond appropriately to social cues. Their lack of emotional range makes them appear to be dull or uninterested in conversations.
- Schizotypal personality disorder
The schizotypal personality type is also antisocial, as they feel uncomfortable in social situations and prefer to lead a solitary life. The person with schizotypal personality disorder also exhibits thought distortions and eccentric behaviors. They may believe they are seeing things out of the corner of their eye that no one else can see, but then realizes nothing is really there. They may believe they can read minds or that someone has stolen thoughts from their mind.
To diagnose the personality disorder, the individual must be assessed by a mental health professional. A psychologist or psychiatrist will evaluate the individual by asking about how they relate to other people, how they perceive themselves and others, how they control their impulses, and how appropriate their emotional responses are to various stimuli.
The DSM-5 outlines diagnostic criteria for each of the personality disorders within each cluster. There must be at least two of the criteria present within a cluster subtype to be able to reach an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for Cluster A Personality Disorders
The treatment goals for patients with a Cluster A personality disorder is to be able to better manage thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Learning how to respond appropriately in social settings will help the individual function at a higher level. This treatment goal can be achieved through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Talk therapy provides a safe and supportive setting for the individual to work with a therapist to learn better ways of relating and communicating. Medication will be prescribed based on each individual’s unique features of the personality disorder, and may include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety medications.
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