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

Jerome C. Wakefield

    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 1 2008

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    Personality Disorders
    Mental Disorders
    Personality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychiatry and Mental health

    Cite this

    The Perils of Dimensionalization : Challenges in Distinguishing Negative Traits from Personality Disorders. / Wakefield, Jerome C.

    In: Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Vol. 31, No. 3, 01.09.2008, p. 379-393.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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