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

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  • 0:06 Personality Disorders
  • 1:52 Avoidant
  • 3:17 Dependent
  • 4:38 Obsessive-Compulsive
  • 6:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Everyone feels shy or insecure from time-to-time, but what happens when you feel overly fearful all the time? In this lesson, we'll explore three Cluster C personality disorders, which involve being scared and too cautious.

Personality Disorders

Amber is insecure - really, really insecure. She's terrified of being rejected by people, whether it's friends or lovers. She's really, really shy and can't bring herself to connect with people. Not only that, she's really sensitive, and criticism can put her into an emotional spiral that lasts for weeks.

Don isn't like Amber; he doesn't have a problem connecting with other people. In fact, he connects a little too much. He is completely dependent upon other people and doesn't know how to manage if someone is not taking care of him. Despite the fact that his ex-girlfriend was abusive, he stayed in that relationship until she dumped him.

Oscar, meanwhile, is obsessed with control. He hates to have anything out of his control. He loves rules and order and can't deal with chaos. He's an extreme perfectionist and hates anything that is not exactly as he thinks it should be.

Amber, Don, and Oscar are suffering from personality disorders, which are psychological disorders involving behavior that prevents a person from having healthy interpersonal relationships. Personality disorders are often divided into clusters. Think of them like stars in the sky. All of the stars are personality disorders, and each one is part of a different constellation, or cluster, that relate to each other.

Cluster C personality disorders involve being overly fearful and anxious. Let's look closer at the three personality disorders in Cluster C: avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.


Let's start with Amber. She's insecure, much more so than other people. She wants to be in a relationship, but her fear of rejection keeps her from being able to interact with people in normal ways. Instead, she avoids them and keeps to herself. Amber is suffering from avoidant personality disorder, a personality disorder that involves avoiding relationships because of fear.

People like Amber come across as very, very timid. They are terrified that they may be rejected, so they withdraw and don't interact with others. For example, Amber rarely speaks unless people ask her a direct question. Instead, she'll act like a wallflower and come across as very awkward.

They are also very insecure and need people to praise them all the time. When they hear anything that sounds like criticism, they become despondent and withdraw. Amber, for example, might be devastated when a friend tells her that she's short. Though most people might hear that as a statement of fact and not an insult, Amber takes it as criticism.

Of course, everyone feels insecure and shy at times, but people like Amber take it to an extreme level. Because they are so insecure, they distrust people because they believe that everyone will hurt them. And they avoid relationships, which is why it is called avoidant personality disorder.


If Amber's fear keeps her from connecting with people, Don's fear makes him connect a little too much. He is completely dependent on other people and can't function if he's not in a relationship. Don suffers from dependent personality disorder, a psychological disorder that involves a pathological need to be taken care of or to depend on others.

Don, like many patients who suffer from dependent personality disorder, was in an abusive relationship for a long time. In fact, he would still be being abused by his ex-girlfriend if she hadn't dumped him. And as soon as he was dumped, he began looking for a new partner because Don is terrified of being single.

Patients like Don often come across as submissive and passive. They are so compliant with others that it can sometimes seem like they are helpless without someone in their life to take care of them. They also spend a lot of time trying to please other people and might be clingy because they are so afraid that they will end up alone.

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