The Expert's Take: "Cluster A" Personality Disorders
Cluster A personalities are characterized by behaviors and thoughts being odd or eccentric. Within Cluster A there are three personality disorders; they are Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal.
Research indicates that individuals who have these personality disorders are more prone for further mental problems, which could be eating disorders, anxiety, depression, reckless behavior, and substance abuse. The prevalence of Cluster A disorders are indifferent among races and ethnicities. However, a Schizoid Personality Disorder is slightly more common in men than women; the other disorders in Cluster A have no difference in gender (American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Emedicine, 2010). Below is a definition of the personality disorders in Cluster A:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder. Individuals believe that other people are out to harm them will use information about them in some way and have an overall mistrust in others. Individuals who have Paranoid Personality Disorder perceive the world as an untrustworthy place that will exploit them due there unrealistic perception of negative hidden meanings in comments or events.
- Schizoid Personality Disorder. Individuals with this personality disorder are detached from others and have no close relationships due to a preference for solitude. They find little pleasure in activities and appear cold or uncaring. They do not handle criticism or praise and appear indifferent to others social interactions.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Individuals with this disorder have eccentricities of thought, perception of reality and behavior. They can believe that ideas of reference are directed at them, for instance, public messages are personally for them. Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder usually have social anxiety and have poor verbal articulation. Close relationships are likely very difficult. They can also have odd beliefs or even magical (i.e. Thinking that individuals can control people with their thoughts).
There are several treatments available for personality disorders and they include psychotherapy, medications, and hospitalizations. The treatment that is best for an individual will depend on which disorder one has and how much the disorder is affecting ones overall functioning in the world. Psychotherapy is usually the main approach to treat a personality disorder. The different types of therapy are cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavior, psychodynamic and psychoeducation.
Each type of therapy has its own unique way of treating the disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy uses both behavioral and cognitive therapies to help the individual identify their negative thoughts and beliefs then replaces them with positive ones. Dialectical behavioral therapy is skill based to help reduce your stress and regulate emotions. Psychodynamic psychotherapy raises awareness to the unconscious thoughts and behaviors of the disorder and helps develop motivation for change. Psychoeducation is instruction about ones disorder and assisting the client in developing and applying coping mechanisms. Medication and hospitalizations are used as secondary tools or in conjunction to psychotherapy in order to help individuals who may need psychpahramological assistance (Medicine, 2010; Mayo Clinic, 2010).
Coping with Cluster A Personality Disorders
- If someone you know has a Cluster A Personality Disorder, locate appropriate psychological support. Ask the provider if they have experience working with Cluster A Personality Disorders. Note the person with the personality disorder may be resistant to treatment, this is why an experienced professional is necessary.
- Treatment may include discovering coping mechanisms. Some coping mechanisms may include simplifying one's life, cutting back on obligations and scheduling goals, writing in a journal, expressing what you are feeling, or even reading about the problem through self-helps books and discussing them with your therapist.
- Offer support not judgment. Some individuals with personality disorders have difficulties with social interactions. If one is over critical this might support a person's negative views of the world or paranoia. It is important to be mindful and understand that you may need to learn some coping skills to assist you with interactions.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (4th ed., text revised). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Emedicine (2010). Retrieved December 12, 2010 from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/294307-overview
Mayo Clinic (2010). Retrieved December 12, 2010 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/personality-disorders/DS00562/DSECTION=coping-and-support
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