A Guide to Cluster C Personality Types

A Guide to Cluster C Personality Types

Personality is defined by the set of traits or characteristics that shape an individual’s identity. This extends to the way an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. A person’s personality is a collection of their own unique experiences and inherited traits. A diagnosis of a personality disorder typically occurs when an individual’s personality begins to deviate significantly from the norm and turn into an unhealthy pattern of functioning. Personality disorders are usually organized into these three clusters: Cluster A, Cluster B, and Cluster C. Cluster A personality disorders are typically defined as eccentric and abnormal thinking. Some examples of disorders that fall into this category are paranoid personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder. Cluster B personality disorders are associated with dramatic and emotional behavior. This cluster encompasses diagnoses like antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. Cluster C personality disorders are established by anxious and fearful behaviors. Disorders that fall into this category typically range from behaviors like clinginess to avoidance of people. 

The three major types of Cluster C personality disorders are Avoidant personality disorder, Dependent personality disorder, and Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Avoidant personality disorder is defined as a group of conditions that mainly include nervousness and fear. People with Avoidant personality disorder tend to be hypersensitive to judgement by others and have a fear of rejection. It is hypothesized that this disorder develops because there is a genetic basis along with a prevalence of shyness during childhood. People with Dependent personality disorder usually have a profound need for people close to them whether it is emotionally or physically motivated. Those with Dependent personality disorder tend to avoid a sense of personal responsibility, have trouble being alone, and are often indecisive. Causes of this personality disorder are thought to be attributed to abusive relationships, childhood trauma, or certain familial traits or environments. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is explained by a chronic state of anxiety with a cycle of unwanted obsessions and compulsions. This personality disorder is believed to be caused by dramatic changes in one’s life, low levels of serotonin, overactivity in the brain etc. 

The majority of the time, Cluster C personality disorders go unnoticed because the actions associated with them will seem natural or normal to those who have these disorders. A diagnosis of a Cluster C personality disorder will include a physical exam, a psychiatric assessment, and a review of disorder criteria by a mental health professional or a doctor. This will then be referred to another specialist who will oversee treatment and confirm the diagnosis.  The most common way to treat a Cluster C personality disorder is by psychotherapy or medication. Psychotherapy entails working with a mental health professional and working through an individual’s thoughts and emotions. Social skill training may also occur individually or in a group setting. Medications that are prescribed to people with personality disorders typically are antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and anti-anxiety medications. 

The personality disorders that are categorized in Cluster C have many overlapping symptoms. People with a personality disorder should be treated mindfully and supported throughout their diagnosis. 



Avoidant personality disorder: Symptoms, causes & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9761-avoidant-personality-disorder.

Dependent personality disorder: Definition, symptoms, treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9783-dependent-personality-disorder.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2016, September 23). Personality disorders. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Symptoms & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9490-obsessive-compulsive-disorder.

Osborn, C. O. K. (2018, August 18). Cluster C personality disorders: Types, traits, treatment, support. Healthline. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/cluster-c-personality-disorders#how-to-help.

WebMD. (n.d.). Cluster C disorders: What they are and how to treat them. WebMD. Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-are-cluster-c-personality-disorders.

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