Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Personality

Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Personality

Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Personality

Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Personality


""This updated and expanded second edition of this influential book has no competition. There is no competition because there are no other books like it on the market and also because of the breadth and importance of the topics that are covered by leading-edge researchers in the field.... Would be an excellent centerpiece for graduate courses in personality psychology. It provides state-of-the-art reviews of theories, statistical methods, assessment methods, and research findings. The topics and the quality of the writing should make the book highly appealing to students in both personality and abnormal psychology.""-- PsycCRITIQUES

This long-awaited, completely new update to a classic text offers a state-of-the-art overview of a rapidly growing field that seeks to integrate the study of normal and abnormal personality. Written by some of the most influential personologists of the 21st century, including Aaron Beck, C. Robert Cloninger, Robert McCrae, and Theodore Millon, chapters show how current theories, statistical methods, and assessment instruments can be used to understand the entire spectrum of personality functioning, from normal to disordered.

With graduate students and professionals new to the field in mind, this book provides information about the central issues that are being addressed by researchers and clinicians in the realm of normal-abnormal personality today. In addition, it provides essential terminology, ideas, and methods that are unique to the field at large as well as basic tools needed to become a participant in normal-abnormal psychology.

Divided into three parts, the book presents an overview of major theories, statistical methods, and measurement instruments, including:

  • Seven influential models of personality and psychopathology
  • Four statistical methods for use in taxonomy, diagnosis, similarities and differences between normal and abnormal personality, and genetic and environmental influences
  • Problems and pitfalls in designing empirical studies in the realm of normal-abnormal personality
  • Empirically-based introductions and reviews of five widely-used instruments for assessing normal-abnormal personality


Study of the interface between normal and abnormal personality was brought center stage following publication in 1980 of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III; American Psychiatric Association, 1980). There, for the first time, personality was separated from other mental disorders, and clinicians were asked to consider additional forms of psychiatric pathology (e.g., depression) in the context of their patients' enduring patterns of experience and behavior. DSM-III and subsequent editions (now DSM-IVTR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) authorized clinicians to diagnose personality disorders (PDs), not normal personality styles, but definitional criteria for PDs assumed knowledge of healthy functioning:

Personality traits are enduring patterns of perceiving, relating to. and thinking about
the environment and oneself that are exhibited in a wide range of social and personal
contexts. Only when personality traits are inflexible and maladaptive and cause significant
functional impairment or subjective distress, do they constitute Personality Disorders.
(American Psychiatric Association. 2000. p. 686)

The personality types diagnosed as disorders in the current manual (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) were not derived from an empirically based taxonomy or comprehensive theory. Rather, they are the product of a consensus of opinion among the scientists and practitioners who made up the PDs work group authorized by the American Psychiatric Association to develop Axis II. Reports from those who participated in the work groups for DSM-III (Millon, 1981) and ASykf-/F(Livesley, 1995) indicated that their decisions about which PDs to include were informed by then current summaries of personality theory and empirical research. For example, theDSM-IVPD work group used empirically based reports to become informed about such issues as definitional clarity of the PDs, overlap and relationship with each other, and the appropriateness of categorical versus dimensional classification. Extensive literature searches were conducted, and both published and unpublished data were scrutinized (in some cases they were reanalyzed). Although field trials were advocated, only one was actually carried out (for the antisocial disorder), and it proved to be controversial. The reports that were issued skillfully documented existing problems, but minimal changes were actually made because the task force was asked to be conservative and to make changes . . .

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