Cluster A Personality Disorders: Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal

Have you ever felt like you had an in-built distrust of people around you? Do you face immense difficulty expressing your emotions and just want to stay alone? Or constantly feel like something terrible is about to occur and are paranoid about it?

If yes, you might have felt what people with cluster A personality disorders face regularly. While being paranoid can be a one-off experience after having a bad day and wanting to stay alone can be a personality trait – for people with cluster A personality disorders, these symptoms are much more pronounced and affect their daily functioning. 

Cluster A personality disorders are diagnosable mental health conditions defined by social awkwardness and withdrawal. They significantly hamper a person’s social life and make it difficult for them to form close and stable relationships with anyone.

The Diagnostics and Statistics Manual – fifth edition (DSM-V) names ten personality disorders, out of which three are characterized under cluster A. The three types of cluster A personality disorders are – paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.

Let us dive deeper into each of these disorders and understand how they affect people. We will also discuss the available treatment options for cluster A disorders.

Cluster A Personality Disorders

1. Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)

Most of our concepts of paranoia are generally influenced by films and television shows where comedic characters are often worried about alien invasions or people poisoning their drinks. However, the reality of paranoid personality disorder is much more complex and definitely goes deeper than delusions about outer space or alien invasions.

People with PPD see almost all people as threats having hidden agendas and reasons to threaten, demean, or hurt them. It is characterized by feelings of deep distrust, jealousy, hostility, and suspicion. People with PPD suffer from a distorted perspective of reality in which they are constantly battle-ready and on the lookout to defend themselves.

There is no specific cause for PPD. However, as per the National Library of Medicine, genetic histories of parents with psychosis, schizophrenia, or PPD or adverse childhood experiences like abuse or neglect might be potential causes.

The common symptoms of PPD include the following:

  • being rigid and overly critical of others,
  • having difficulty accepting criticisms,
  • having difficulty in being collaborative and working with others,
  • blaming others for one’s own mistakes,
  • indulging in grand fantasies,
  • experiencing psychotic episodes due to stressful circumstances, and
  • being angry and aggressive while counterattacking others.

2. Schizoid Personality Disorder

Personality disorders significantly impact the way people connect and react to the world. For people with schizoid personality disorder, this means feeling detached from their world, avoiding social gatherings or activities, having difficulty expressing emotions, and not having an interest in building and maintaining relationships. 

Schizoid personality disorder is a chronic disorder characterized by extreme social detachment and isolation. It is one of the rarest forms of personality disorders and is more likely to affect men than women.  

The specific causes of schizoid personality disorders are not known as of now. It is believed that a combination of environmental and genetic factors might play a role in developing the same. 

The common symptoms of schizoid personality disorders include the following: 

  • being invested in fantasy or introspection, 
  • being indifferent to rejection, praise, or criticism,
  • feeling a sense of detachment from everyone,
  • having little to no desire to form or manage social relationships,
  • having a lack of interest in participating in social activities, and
  • being described as cold, aloof, or withdrawn by those around you.

Read more: 5 Types Of Schizophrenia Explained

3. Schizotypal Personality Disorder

People with schizotypal personality disorders are characterized by strange behaviors, odd speech, and magical beliefs. However, they often do not understand how these symptoms affect their ability to form close relationships.

Schizotypal personality disorder is defined by a person’s social and interpersonal deficits. They are overtly suspicious of others and often believe they have magical powers or unique special abilities. 

While there are no known causes for schizotypal; personality disorders, genetic factors are considered prominent. People with close relatives with schizophrenia are more likely to develop a schizotypal personality disorder.

The common symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder are:

  • having superstitious beliefs,
  • lacking good and stable social relationships,
  • having inappropriate or limited emotional responses,
  • displaying eccentric or unusual thoughts,
  • speaking in a vague language with unusual patterns of speech, and
  • having excessive social anxiety even in familiar situations.

Read more: Schizotypal Personality Disorder – Definition, Symptoms, and Causes

Treatment Options

All people with personality disorders react positively to psychotherapy. Psychotherapy aims to help people understand their thoughts and beliefs that generally influence their behaviors. Common forms of psychotherapy used are: 

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT),
  • dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT),
  • group therapy,
  • psychoeducation, and
  • psychodynamic therapy.


Cluster A personality disorders are defined by odd, eccentric, and socially isolating behaviors. People with cluster A personality disorder often have trouble forming good social relationships and trusting others. 

Living with personality disorders is hard. Timely professional care and support can help allow recovery and symptom management. With the advent of online therapy platforms, finding professional help is now easier than ever. To know more about them, click here

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