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Cluster B Personality Disorders - Saffron Youardhan




You may have heard of at least one person in your life describing someone as a “narcissist” or a “sociopath.” However, some people may not be aware that these terms can actually harm someone. Misusing these terms to describe someone you don’t like can misrepresent the disorder completely and the people diagnosed with it. It is important to keep in mind that people with these disorders still have feelings and demonizing the disorder as a whole may cause people to refuse to get the help they need or refuse to acknowledge their disorder at all.


One of the most stigmatized disorders being cluster B personality disorders. Cluster B personality disorders are categorized as a lack of emotional or behavioral control. They usually consist of dramatic, over emotional, or unpredictable behavior. The 4 disorders that fall into this category are antisocial personality disorder, narcissism personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. 


ASPD


Firstly, let's discuss an incredibly demonized disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, also known as the outdated term, sociopathy. Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is characterized as a disregard for others. According to mayoclinic.org, traits that people with ASPD tend to have are impulsive behavior, recklessness, aggression, run-ins with the law, and little concern for the needs and feelings of others. Genetic and childhood factors are believed to lead to the development of this disorder, examples being childhood abuse. Men are at a greater risk than women. Samhsa.gov states that ASPD can be difficult to treat and typically individuals with this disorder don’t seek treatment on their own. However, behavioral treatments or talk therapy has been shown to help for some people.


NPD


Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), I feel is the most stigmatized out of all cluster B personality disorders. Many people have heard of the term “narcissist” being thrown around in the media, examples being music, books, movies, or short videos. With the term being thrown around so loosely, it starts losing its true meaning. According to healthdirect.gov, narcissism is described as an exaggerated sense of self importance. Symptoms of this disorder include fantasies of power, beauty, or success, lacking empathy, taking advantage of others, seeking attention, exaggerating achievements, and the belief of feeling special or more important than others. Another type of NPD, known as vulnerable/covert narcissism includes traits the opposite of what people may expect when they think of narcissism. Symptoms of vulnerable narcissism include a need for attention, low self-esteem, insecurity, and being overly sensitive to others opinions. People usually cannot handle NPD symptoms, leaving people with this diagnosis isolated. Like ASPD, people with NPD tend to have difficulty seeking treatment as they don’t recognize the problem in their actions. The first thing that needs to happen is to practice self awareness then seek help.


BPD


Even though it's not as stigmatized as the others, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of the most tiring disorders to live with. BPD involves unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. According to mayoclinic.org, symptoms of BPD include feelings of emptiness, impulsive/risky behavior, unstable deep relationships, threats of self-harm, unstable mood, and a strong fear of being abandoned or left alone. According to samhsa.gov, risk-factors of BPD include poor communication, disrupted family life, and childhood abuse. BPD can damage many areas of your life like self image, school work, social activities, and close relationships. It has also been known to lead to depression, suicide, and substance abuse. Both individual therapy and group therapy have been shown to help people with this disorder. 


HPD


The last disorder of the cluster B category is more unknown then the other 3 mentioned. This disorder is called histrionic personality disorder (HPD), which is marked by a consistent pattern of attention seeking and an exaggerated display of emotions. According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, “Individuals with HPD are often described as seductive, self-indulgent, flirtatious, dramatic, extroverted, and animated.” The condition is usually life long, symptoms appearing at late adolescence or early adult stage of life. There is some controversy around this diagnosis as even though it's a professional diagnosis, many claim it to be inherently sexist and outdated. Mcbi.nm.nih.gov also states that the roots lead back to ancient Greek and Roman times. The individuals were described as hysterical, the Greek word “hysteria” meaning uterus as the behaviors were believed to be exclusive to women. For this disorder, women are usually over diagnosed while men are under diagnosed. Just like the other cluster B’s, it's difficult for them to seek treatment on their own as they’re unlikely to see their behavior as problematic.


So next time you try to frame these disorders in a negative light, keep in mind that they’re usually a negative reaction to adolescent trauma. Having a personality disorder does not equal being a bad person and it's important to be mindful of people who are struggling and trying to search for needed help.


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