The Fearful or Anxious Cluster C Personality Disorders and Aging

Cluster C Personality Disorders: Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive


The similarities of the three personality disorders in Cluster C include underlying pervasive nervousness, anxiety, or fearfulness. Compared with the erratic and impulsive personality disorders in Cluster B with their characteristic interpersonal chaos, the Cluster C personality disorders often present with debilitating indecision, social inhibition, and avoidance. Based on the anxious nature of these personality disorders, it should not be surprising that when sufferers seek psychotherapy, they often do so to deal with their feelings of fear and apprehension. Like the personality disorders discussed in the preceding chapters, individuals with Cluster C personality disorders typically have little sense that their personality is maladaptive or part of the problem. Notably, there has been less systematic research conducted on the personality disorders in Cluster C compared with those in Cluster A (Schizotypal Personality Disorder in particular) and Cluster B (Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders in particular; Paris, 2005), and even less research targeting Cluster C personality disorders and older populations. An important developmental finding is that the onset of the anxiety-based

(Cluster C) personality disorders may be seen very early in life. Paris (1998) documented that unusually shy infants are at risk for anxiety disorders (on Axis 1) and Cluster C personality disorders as adults. The DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for the three Cluster C disorders are provided in the following subsections.

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