Personality Disorders and Gender Differences.

A personality disorders is a type of mental disorder in which you have a rigid and unhealthy pattern of thinking, functioning and behaving. A person with a personality disorder has trouble perceiving and relating to situations and people. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school.

A personality disorder is a persistent pattern of emotions, cognitions, and behavior that results in enduring emotional distress for the person affected and/or for others and may cause difficulties with work and relationships.

Having a personality disorder may distress the affected person. Individuals with personality disorders may not feel any subjective distress, however; indeed, it may in fact be others who acutely feel distress because of the actions of the person with the disorder. This is particularly common with antisocial personality disorder, because the individual may show a blatant disregard for the rights of others yet exhibit no remorse.

Personality disorders usually begin in the teenage years or early adulthood. There are many types of personality disorders. Some types may become less obvious throughout middle age.



DSM-5 divides the personality disorders into three groups, or clusters. This will probably continue until a strong scientific basis is established for viewing them differently. Types of personality disorders are grouped into three clusters, based on similar characteristics and symptoms. Many people with one personality disorder also have signs and symptoms of at least one additional personality disorder. It’s not necessary to exhibit all the signs and symptoms listed for a disorder to be diagnosed.

The cluster division is based on resemblance.

  • Cluster A is called the odd or eccentric cluster. It includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.
  • Cluster B is the dramatic, emotional, or erratic cluster. It consists of antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.
  • Cluster C is the anxious or fearful cluster. It includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

Cluster A personality disorders.

Cluster A personality disorders are characterized by odd, eccentric thinking or behavior. They include paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

1. Paranoid personality disorder

  • PPD is a type of psychological personality disorder characterized by an extreme level of distrust and suspiciousness of others.
  • Persons with PPD are unlikely to form many close relationships and are typically perceived as cold and distant.
  • They are quick to challenge the loyalty of friends and loved ones and tend to carry long grudges.

2. Schizoid personality disorder

  • Individuals with schizoid personality are characteristically detached from social relationships and show a restricted range of expressed emotions.
  • Their social skills, as would be expected, are weak, and they do not typically express a need for attention or approval.
  • They may be perceived by others as somber and of, and often are referred to as “loners.”

3. Schizotypal personality disorder

  • Schizotypal personalities are characterized by odd forms of thought, perception and beliefs.
  • In social interactions, schizotypal may react inappropriately, or not react at all, or talk to themselves.
  • They may believe that they have extra sensory powers or that they are connected to unrelated events in some important way.
  • However, they tend to avoid intimacy and typically have few close friends.

Cluster B Personality Disorders.

These are evidenced by dramatic, erratic behaviors and include Histrionic, Narcissistic, Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders. There are four Cluster B personality disorders: antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic.

1. Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD).

  • Antisocial personality disorder is a “pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in early childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”
  • Antisocial personality disorder is also associated with impulsive behavior, aggression (such as repeated physical assaults), disregard for their own or other’s safety, irresponsible behavior, and lack of remorse.

2. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

  • BPD is associated with specific problems in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions, behaviors, and thinking.
  • Individuals with BPD may say that they feel as if they are on an emotional roller coaster, with very quick shifts in mood.
  • BPD is associated with a tendency to engage in risky behaviors.

3. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  • The next disorder in group B is the Narcissistic personality disorder, which is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance.
  • People with narcissistic personality disorder often believe that they are “special,” require excessive attention, take advantage of others, lack empathy, and are described by others as arrogant.

4. Histrionic Personality Disorder

  • The next disorder in this group B is the histrionic personality disorder.
  • The central features of histrionic personality disorder are intense expressions of emotion and excessive attention seeking behavior.
  • People with histrionic personality disorder often seek out attention and are uncomfortable when others are receiving attention.
  • They may often engage in seductive or sexually promiscuous behavior, or use their physical appearance to draw attention to themselves.

Cluster C Personality Disorders.

These are distinguished by anxious, fearful behavior commonly seen in Obsessive-Compulsive, Avoidant and Dependent Personality Disorders. Let us deal with each of the disorders in each of the clusters. First taking up Cluster A Personality Disorders, in which we have paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders.

1. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

  • People suffering from OCPD, also called Anankastic Personality Disorder, are so focused on order and perfection that their lack of flexibility interferes their ability to get things done, and to enjoy life in general.
  • Little is accomplished because, whatever the task, for the obsessive-compulsive, it is never good enough.
  • These individuals become involved and overwhelmed in detail and are often unable to see the big picture.

2. Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

  • Those with AvPD experience an intense level of social anxiety.
  • Extremely self-conscious, they tend to avoid social situations and gravitate to jobs that involve little interpersonal contact.
  • Avoidants often feel inadequate or inferior to others and are hypersensitive to rejection.
  • Unlike individuals with schizoid personality disorder, those with AvPD do crave social relationships but feel that social acceptance is unattainable.

3. Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)

  • DPD is a psychological personality disorder in which the individuals are dependent on others to an extreme extent.
  • They want to be taken care of, cling to those they depend on, and often rely on others to make decisions for them.
  • They have a strong fear of rejection and may become suicidal when faced with a disintegrating relationship.
  • Those with DPD require excessive reassurance and advice, and are commonly over-sensitive to criticism or disapproval.

Gender Differences.

Men diagnosed with a personality disorder tend to display traits characterized as more aggressive, structured, self-assertive, and detached and women tend to present with characteristics that are more submissive, emotional, and insecure. (Torgersen, 2012). It is not surprising, then, that antisocial personality disorder is present more often in males and dependent personality disorder more often in females. Historically, histrionic and borderline personality disorders were identified by clinicians more often in women.

A person with antisocial personality disorder, characterized by irresponsible and reckless behavior and usually diagnosed in males. The other case described a person with histrionic personality disorder, which is characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking and more often diagnosed in females.

Many of the features of histrionic personality disorder, such as overdramatization, vanity, seductiveness, and overconcern with physical appearance, are characteristic of the Western “stereotypical female.” This disorder may simply be the embodiment of extremely “feminine” traits, branding such an individual mentally ill, according to Kaplan reflects society’s inherent bias against females.


David H. Barlow, V. Mark Durand. Abnormal Psychology, An Integrative Approach. (7th ed).

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