The Perils of Dimensionalization: Challenges in Distinguishing Negative Traits from Personality Disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

The harmful dysfunction analysis of mental disorder is used to assess whether traits are indicative of personality disorder, and the ways such an inference can go wrong. Personality is an overall organization that allows the organism to accomplish basic goals within the constraints of its basic traits and specific intentional states. Extreme traits can be negative or "dysfunctional" in the sense that they interfere with the achievement of socially or personally valued goals; however, they are not necessarily dysfunctions or disorders in the biological or medical sense. Thus, no sheer assessment of a set of traits can offer sufficient information for a diagnosis of personality disorder. Nor do criteria such as maladaptiveness, impairment, or clinical significance necessarily transform a trait into a personality disorder. The DSM's most plausible suggestion for judging when traits are dysfunctions, inflexibility, is also problematic because many nondisordered traits are inflexible as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-393
Number of pages15
JournalPsychiatric Clinics of North America
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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