Operationalizing the Personality Disorders

Simply to derive a set of personality constructs on the basis of some theoretical framework is not enough. By stopping here, we would be left only with a list of personality constructs, but no means of integrating the various perspectives inside these constructs. Stepping outside personality itself and appealing to the imperatives of evolution allow us to develop a framework that transcends any particular viewpoint. Otherwise, we would have only repeated the errors of the past, committing a part-whole fallacy by building yet another perspective on personality from some narrow set of variables and presenting it as the whole story.

The purpose of this last step, then, is to make good on the definition of personality originally put forward in this text as the patterning of variables across the entire matrix of the person. Table 2.4 presents a matrix of descriptors for all the functional and structural domains across each of the 14 personality disorders of DSM-III-R and DSM-IV. Even more specificity can be gained by paragraphs that anchor each of the descriptors, as shown for the compulsive personality in Table 2.5. Because the psychodynamic, biological, cognitive, and interpersonal are the most important perspectives through which personality has been studied in the past century, the claim is that they exhaust all of personality. As we discuss in the next chapter, the DSM-IV cannot say as much. In Chapter 3, we put the functional and structural domains to use by illustrating their role in the assessment and therapy of personality disorders.

Table 2.4 Personality Disorder Attributes by Personality Domain*

Expressive Behaviors

Interpersonal Conduct

Cognitive Style

Self-Image

Object-Representations

Regulatory Mechanisms

Morphologic Organization

Mood-Temperament

Schizoid

Impassive

Unengaged

Impoverished

Complacent

Meager

Intellectualization

Undifferentiated

Apathetic

Avoidant

Fretful

Aversive

Distracted

Alienated

Vexatious

Fantasy

Fragile

Anguished

Depressive

Disconsolate

Defenseless

Pessimistic

Worthless

Forsaken

Asceticism

Depleted

Melancholic

Dependent

Incompetent

Submissive

Naive

Inept

Immature

Introjection

Inchoate

Pacific

Histrionic

Dramatic

Attention seeking

Flighty

Gregarious

Shallow

Dissociation

Disjointed

Fickle

Narcissistic

Haughty

Exploitive

Expansive

Admirable

Contrived

Rationalization

Spurious

Insouciant

Antisocial

Impulsive

Irresponsible

Deviant

Autonomous

Debased

Acting out

Unruly

Callous

Sadistic

Precipitate

Abrasive

Dogmatic

Combative

Pernicious

Isolation

Eruptive

Hostile

Compulsive

Disciplined

Respectful

Constricted

Conscientious

Concealed

Reaction formation

Compartmentalized

Solemn

Negativistic

Resentful

Contrary

Skeptical

Discontented

Vacillating

Displacement

Divergent

Irritable

Masochistic

Abstinent

Deferential

Diffident

Undeserving

Discredited

Exaggeration

Inverted

Dysphoric

Schizotypal

Eccentric

Secretive

Autistic

Estranged

Chaotic

Undoing

Fragmented

Distraught or Insentient

Borderline

Spasmodic

Paradoxical

Capricious

Uncertain

Incompatible

Regression

Split

Labile

Paranoid

Defensive

Provocative

Suspicious

Inviolable

Unalterable

Projection

Inelastic

Irascible

Toward an Integrated Science of Personology

In Chapter 1, we noted that the evolution of the physical sciences and that of the social sciences are fundamentally different. The phenomena of the natural sciences are more sharply bounded and accessible via strong mathematical formalisms. Strong constraints on theorizing are thus provided by the subject matter of the disciplines themselves. The timing and discovery of particular theories may be interesting, but the authors themselves are irrelevant: A physical law is a physical law. If Einstein had failed to discover the Theory of Relativity, someone else would have. In contrast, the phenomena of the social sciences are more loosely bounded, fundamentally open, leaving the history of the social sciences with a contingent structure. Different perspectives emerge at different times, and the gurus of these perspectives compete with one another for disciples. If Freud had never been born, for example, the study of personality would look far different today. In contrast, in the natural sciences, physical laws are drawn into formulations of ever greater generality. No longer is it believed that there are four fundamental forces of nature—gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces—instead, these have been unified in esoteric formulations such as string theory.

In contrast, the loosely boundaried, open nature of the social sciences gives rise to an almost limitless number of perspectives on its subject matter. Most personality theories are content to assert that certain variables are fundamental, while attempting to organize the constructs of competing perspectives. Often, the theories advanced by past thinkers have amounted merely to a list of pet constructs, without any stopping rules that determine why these constructs are fundamental rather than others. The list of character disorders in the psychodynamic perspective is one example; the list of dimensions produced by the various factor models is another. Here, we must accept, as an article of faith, that these constructs exhaust what that perspective has to offer to personality.

TABLE 2.5 The Compulsive Personality: Functional and Structural Domains

Functional Domains

Structural Domains

Disciplined

Conscientious

Expressive Acts

Maintains a regulated, highly structured and strictly organized life; perfectionism interferes with decision making and task completion.

Self-Image

Sees self as devoted to work, industrious, reliable, meticulous, and efficient, largely to the exclusion of leisure activities; fearful of error or misjudgment, hence overvalues aspects of self that exhibit discipline, perfection, prudence, and loyalty.

Respectful

Concealed

Interpersonal Conduct

Exhibits unusual adherence to social conventions and proprieties, as well as being scrupulous and overconscientious about matters of morality and ethics; prefers polite, formal, and correct personal relationships, usually insisting that subordinates adhere to personally established rules and methods.

Object

Representations

Only those internalized representations with their associated inner affects and attitudes that can be socially approved are allowed conscious awareness or behavioral expression; as a result, actions and memories are highly regulated, forbidden impulses sequestered and tightly bound, personal and social conflicts defensively denied, kept from awareness, maintained under stringent control.

Constricted

Compartmentalized

Cognitive Style

Constructs world in terms of rules, regulations, schedules, and hierarchies; is rigid, stubborn, and indecisive and notably upset by unfamiliar or novel ideas and customs.

Morphological

Organization

Morphologic structures are rigidly organized in a tightly consolidated system that is clearly partitioned into numerous distinct and segregated constellations of drive, memory, and cognition, with few open channels to permit interplay among these components.

Reaction Formation

Solemn

Regulatory Mechanism

Repeatedly presents positive thoughts and socially commendable behaviors that are diametrically opposite deeper contrary and forbidden feelings; displays reasonableness and maturity when faced with circumstances that evoke anger or dismay in others.

Mood/ Temperament

Is unrelaxed, tense, joyless, and grim; restrains warm feelings and keeps most emotions under tight control.

Note: Shaded domains are the most salient for this personality prototype.

Note: Shaded domains are the most salient for this personality prototype.

The evolutionary theory, however, is fundamentally different. Perspectives on personality are the product of the evolutionary history of our particular species. Life on other worlds may differ in their societies, social relationships, mechanisms of cognition, brain structures and neurotransmitters, and perhaps the very metaphysical categories used to parse the stream of sensory stimulation into a subjective experience of "reality." Unless we believe that humans are the prototype for intelligent life everywhere in the universe (surely a delusion), we must admit that there could well be no equivalency between the perspectives of their science of personality and those of our own. In contrast, pleasure-pain, active-passive, and self-other form a necessary framework applicable wherever survival, adaptation, and reproduction exist as evolutionary imperatives, whether on Earth or elsewhere (Millon, 1990). Similarly, there is much to be gained in providing an overarching schema for integrating the diverse activities of clinicians and personologists. A blueprint for such a framework has recently been provided by the senior author in his American Psychological Association's "Distinguished Professional Contribution Award Address" (Millon, 2003).

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