Which Personality Disorders are in Cluster C?

Courtesy of Godoy Medical Forensics

Cluster C is a subset of personality disorders that includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive compulsive personality disorders. These disorders are characterized by anxious and fearful thinking and behavior.

The following is fictional example of how an individual with a cluster C personality disorder may require the services of a criminal attorney:

Mary was the beloved only child of parents who were in their forties when she was born. She was protected and indulged throughout her childhood. After graduating from high school, she continued to live with her parents and worked as a secretary for her father’s business. She sold the business after her parents died and continued to live in the family home. Mary had a succession of live-in boyfriends who took advantage of her financially. She was arrested when police took possession of her personal computer and charged her with downloading and distributing child pornography.

Mary told her attorney that her boyfriend used her computer for long periods of time but she did not want to “get him in trouble.” She refused make any decisions about her case because she was “too stupid.”

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Mary has a dependent personality disorder and her need to be cared for is so strong that she will sacrifice herself to please others, especially her boyfriend. Individuals with this disorder look to others to guide their lives and can be gullible. Their self-esteem is determined by others. Individuals like Mary avoid conflict and rarely disagree. The attorney can expect that a client with dependent personality will have difficulty making an independent decision and be unable to problem solve.

Avoidant Personality Disorder
The symptoms of avoidant personality disorder are similar to social phobia, except that in the personality disorder, the avoidance is present in all social situations. Social phobia symptoms are usually more specific, such as speaking or eating in public. Attorneys need to be aware when communicating with individuals who have avoidant personality traits that they are hypersensitive to criticism and feel inferior. They may experience paranoid feeling or intense anger under stress. They avoid social interaction because of fear of rejection. They are not risk takers.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

This personality disorder can be confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Obsessions and compulsions are not present in the personality disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Individuals with obsessive compulsive personality disorder are preoccupied with order, perfectionism, and control. These individuals follow rules to the point of being inflexible and unable to adapt to change. They may become preoccupied with detail at the expense of efficiency. They try to control others and their environment. Attorneys will find that these clients value formality and politeness. They may be rigid and stubbornly insist that they are right.



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