This is a cute drawing circulating Facebook depicting the “typical” person with each of the four Cluster B personality disorders (I cannot give credit for it since I have no idea who drew it or where it originated). While I understand it’s meant to streamline the overall feel of each of these disorders, they’re still stereotypes. Stereotypes certainly may have a grain of truth behind them, but it’s important to realize they are convenient shortcuts at best, and quite negative and damaging at worst.
Obviously, not everyone with these disorders is going to act the way they’re depicted in the cartoon. Human beings, even those with personality disorders, are complicated creatures, and just as there are many variations in the general population, so there are many variations among any group of people with one of these disorders.
Here’s another cartoon (which I have used in several posts) that also depicts these disorders in much the same way as the above drawing.
I think it’s interesting that in both of these cartoons, the person with Antisocial Personality Disorder is a criminal type of individual making threats, either with a weapon or he is already in jail. Both wear a sadistic expression. Both are also male figures. The reality is, not all people with ASPD are criminals or in prison. They aren’t all serial killers. Some have never committed a crime (or at least have never been caught). In fact, the other group of people statistically most likely to have ASPD (or psychopathy) are the very high functioning CEOs of big corporations. Many people with ASPD are in high profile careers like politics or entertainment. Their lack of conscience and guilt feelings, coupled with a nearly non-existent lack of empathy (even narcissists have more empathy than a person with ASPD), make it easy for them to rise high in their fields and have no compunctions about firing people or “downsizing.” Other people’s feelings are much less important than the “bottom line.” Many high ranking people with psychopathy or ASPD are actually women.
It’s fascinating to me that the two groups of people most likely to have ASPD/psychopathy appear at each extreme of modern society: the low functioning ones locked up in prison and/or running from the law, and the high functioning ones running everything from giant companies to powerful countries.
The person pictured with NPD is also a male in both cases, and both guys are dressed up in business suits. One is holding a wad of cash, and the other is just arrogant, with a PhD (of bullshit!) on his wall. Both are wearing arrogant expressions. The reality is, many women also have NPD–females may constitute as much as half of all people with NPD, and I think it’s becoming more common (why else would there be so many narcissistic mothers and websites about them??)
Also, not all narcissists are of this grandiose, arrogant, showoffy stereotype. Many narcissists are the fragile, vulnerable or covert type, and use their “altruism” or “niceness” to get supply (or put others on a guilt trip). Or they present themselves as pathetic, put-upon victims who never take any responsibility for themselves and blame others for their miserable lives and failing relationships. Granted, the vulnerable or covert type of narcissist is probably more likely to be a woman, but this isn’t always the case. My mother was quite grandiose and arrogant, and so are many women you meet in business.
Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) and BPD are both depicted by women in these cartoons. In both cases, the woman with HPD is a femme fatale, exuding sexuality and demanding attention using her body and come hither expression. Some histrionics are men though, and just act dramatic and over the top for attention. It’s not always sexual attention they’re after. I’ve seen many men with what appears to be HPD in the gay community (this is in no way meant to disrespect gay men, it’s just something I’ve noticed). HPDs do tend to be more extroverted than the average person.
The BPD women in the cartoons vary the most. In the first drawing she is crying; in the second, she is split between devaluation and idealization. The emotional instability of a borderline is a fact; but not all borderlines are female. Males with BPD can act a lot like men with ASPD, due to their tendency to act on impulse and have hair-trigger tempers and fly into violent rages. Borderline males are more likely to be imprisoned or have a criminal record than men with NPD, who prefer to keep their hands and reputations clean. BPD women with this disorder can also be abusive toward others or even criminally-minded. Or they can be codependent, or primarily self-destructive (this is probably the more common type in females). There are so many manifestations of BPD that it’s a hard disorder to diagnose, probably harder than the other three. Many people with BPD have addiction issues or eating disorders and hurt themselves more than they hurt others.