It is frustrating how mental health lingo is expected to be known, or understood in the world. Most of us know what ADHD is or ADD, but there are a plethora of terms out there that are not only hard to recognize, but difficult to grasp.  I know someone dealing with a person that is Cluster B, and I asked her about it and she immediately looked it up:

Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder

Her response was — Cluster B — that’s toxic.

I’ve worked with individuals suffering from personality disorders, and often times it is hard to distinguish which known diagnosis fits the persons illness. You can have a person with a mood disorder, and get different takes on it.

For example: Depression

They say someone has depression with mood swings, or depression with psychotic features, or major depressive disorder. The underlying theme is depression, then something is added onto the diagnosis to try to help to distinguish it.

Another example: Schizophrenia

You have Schizoaffective Disorder, then Paranoid Schizophrenia, then Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenic, then Schizophrenia NOS.

Case in point, titles get blurred, and as a result, the treatment needed to help a person becomes challenging and confusing for their loved ones.

So, what about personality disorders?

It is very hard to decipher a personality disorder, let alone a certain type of one. When I worked in acute inpatient psych wards one of my tasks was to work with the treatment team to discharge a patient to an appropriate level of care. More often times then not, when a patient had a personality disorder it was far more difficult to find a proper placement.

We are far from healing or fully understanding those that suffer from Cluster B for many reasons.   Someone with a personality disorder can’t just take a medication when it stems from outside forces.  For example, one’s upbringing and nurturing environment.

For those of you that are trying to manage a loved one with a personality disorder, know that you are not alone in the struggle to understand that illness, and find a way to manage it. My best suggestion is to take time to read about it, and talk about it.


Photo by Smithsonian Institution