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The Cluster B Personality Disorders

What Are the Cluster B Personality Disorders?


Updated June 02, 2014

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) lists borderline personality disorder (BPD) among the Cluster B personality disorders. Personality disorders are psychological conditions that begin in adolescence or early adulthood, continue over many years, and cause a great deal of distress. Personality disorders also can often interfere with a person's ability to enjoy life or achieve fulfillment in relationships, work or school.

What Are the Cluster B Personality Disorders?

There are four Cluster B personality disorders: antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic. The DSM-IV views these as a subset of personality disorders that are characterized by dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. The Cluster B personality disorders are also the most common of the DSM-IV personality disorders.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

According to DSM-IV, antisocial personality disorder is a “pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in early childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”

People with antisocial personality disorder have been described as lacking empathy (or the ability to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” to understand their feelings), and they may often be deceitful or break the law. Antisocial personality disorder is also associated with impulsive behavior, aggression (such as repeated physical assaults), disregard for their own or other’s safety, irresponsible behavior, and lack of remorse.

Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD is associated with specific problems in interpersonal relationships, self-image, emotions, behaviors, and thinking. People with BPD tend to have intense relationships characterized by a lot of conflict, arguments and break-ups. They also have difficulties related to the stability of their identity or sense of self. They report many "ups and downs" in how they feel about themselves. Individuals with BPD may say that they feel as if they are on an emotional roller coaster, with very quick shifts in mood (for example, going from feeling OK to feeling extremely down or blue within a few minutes).

BPD is associated with a tendency to engage in risky behaviors, such as going on shopping sprees, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs, engaging in promiscuous sex, binge eating, or self-harming.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance. People with narcissistic personality disorder often believe that they are “special,” require excessive attention, take advantage of others, lack empathy, and are described by others as arrogant.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

The central features of histrionic personality disorder are intense expressions of emotion and excessive attention-seeking behavior. People with histrionic personality disorder often seek out attention and are uncomfortable when others are receiving attention. They may often engage in seductive or sexually promiscuous behavior, or use their physical appearance to draw attention to themselves. They also may demonstrate rapidly shifting emotions and express emotion in a very dramatic fashion.


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Fourth Edition. American Psychiatric Association: 2000.

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