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What are Cluster A Personality Disorders?

Personality disorders are a series of mental illnesses that are pervasive and impede every element of a person’s life. In many cases, these disorders have been present for the majority of a person’s life and may be the result of genetics or upbringing. These disorders are broken into three distinct clusters. Cluster A personality disorders are considered to be the odd, eccentric disorders. These disorders are characterized by a form of distorted thinking that may result in social awkwardness and withdrawal.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder are most easily characterized as having a distinct and pervasive distrust and suspicion of others. These individuals may irrationally assume that others are out to harm, humiliate, or take advantage of them, even when faced with proof to the contrary. Individuals diagnosed with Paranoid Personality disorder may even put significant effort into distancing themselves from others. This behavior range in severity from holding grudges against others, to preemptively attacking others, even if there is no precipitating event. These individuals may also resist treatment, believing that they do not have a problem.

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Shizoid Personality Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder may come across as socially detached and display a limited range of emotions. These individuals tend to remain socially isolated and do not seek out, or even enjoy, close relationships or friendships with others. If given the choice, these individuals would prefer to be alone. When these individuals are placed into social situations, they may come across as detached or cold, and may display a lack of understanding, or even acknowledgement, of social gestures. In many cases others may feel outright ignored or dismissed when interacting with someone diagnosed with Schizoid Personality disorder. While the exact cause of this disorder is unknown, it is believed to be that the prevalence of this disorder is rare.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Similar to Schizoid Personality Disorder, individuals diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder may come off as socially isolated and distant. Shizotypal Personality Disorder is unique in the fact that individuals diagnosed with this disorder often have odd behaviors and beliefs, such as perceptual and cognitive distortions. This may manifest as seeing lights or shadows that others cannot, or magical thinking, such as having the belief that they can see the future or read other’s thoughts. These odd behaviors may lead to paranoia or suspicion of others, which can contribute to social anxiety. While there is no known cause of Schizotypal Personality Disorder, there is a growing belief that a family history of Schizophrenia may lead to a greater likelihood of developing Schizotypal Personality traits.

Treatment and Considerations

Unlike some mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, which can be treated with medications, the cause of these personality disorders is not known. Doctors may prescribe medication to deal with outlying symptoms, including depression, mania, anxiety, and delusional thinking, but these medications alone cannot help a patient learn how to interact with people in his or her surroundings. Long-term psychotherapy is recommended when treating patients with these disorders and may include cognitive-behavioral methods of controlling irrational thoughts, managing anxiety, and interacting with others. Each personality disorder is unique, and requires a skilled and experienced therapist to properly diagnose and treat.

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