Dimensional Model of Personality Disorders

As hinted at the beginning of this chapter , modern theorists are ar guing for a dimensional, as opposed to a categorical, view of personality disorders. In the dimensional model of personality , the only distinctions made between normal personality traits and disorders are in terms of extremity , rigidity, and maladaptiveness. For example,

Widiger (1997) ar gues that disorders simply are maladaptive variants and combinations of normal-range personality traits. The personality traits most studied as sources of disorders are the five traits of the five-factor model, which we reviewed in Cha ter 3. Costa and Widiger (1994) edited an influential book supporting the idea tha the Big Five traits provide a useful framework for understanding disorders. Widiger (1997) presents data ar guing that, for example, borderline personality disorder is extreme narcissism, and schizoid disorder is extreme introversion accompanied by low neuroticism (emotional stability). Extreme introversion accompanied by extremely high neuroticism, on the other hand, results in avoidant personality disorder . Histrionic disorder is characterized as extreme extraversion. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a maladaptive form of extreme conscientiousness. Schizotypal personality disorder is a complex combination of introversion, high neuroticism, low agreeable-ness, and extreme openness.

The dimensional view is somewhat like chemistry: Add a little of this trait and some of that trait, amplify to extremely high (or low) levels, and the result is a specific disorder . Dimensional models may have certain advantages, such as accounting for why people in the same diagnostic category can be so different from each other in how they express the disorder . In addition, the dimensional model allows for a person to have multiple disorders of personality . And, finally, the dimensional model explicitly acknowledges that the distinction between what is normal and what is abnormal is more a matter of degree than a clear and qualitative break.

For now, however, the dominant model of personality disorders, as represented in the DSM-IV, is the categorical model. When the DSM-IV undergoes revision, and becomes DSM-V, it will be interesting to see if the dimensional model is given more recognition. At present, the DSM-IV only hints at the possibility of a dimensional view: "Only when personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause sig nificant functional impairment or subjective distress do they constitute Personalit Disorders" (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 630).

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Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.

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