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Chapter 10


Course Code
PSYC 305
Laura Hanson

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Clinical Features
Some people have inflexible and maladaptive traits that make them
unable to comply with social expectations
Two general features: (1) chronic interpersonal difficulties and (2)
problems with one’s identity and sense of self
To diagnose someone with a personality disorder the person’s pattern of
behaviour must be pervasive and inflexible, as well as stable and of long
duration and cause either clinically significant distress or impairment in
functioning and be manifested in cognition, affectivity, interpersonal
functioning, or impulse control (at least two)
Disorders largely stem from the gradual development of inflexible and
distorted personality and behavioural patterns that result in persistently
maladaptive ways of perceiving, thinking about, and relating to the world
Major stressful life events help start the development of inflexible and
distorted personality patterns
3 Clusters of personality disorders
Cluster A: Paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders
(unusual behaviour, odd, eccentric)
Cluster B: Histrionic, narcissistic, antisocial, and borderline
personality disorder (dramatic, emotional, erratic)
Cluster C: Avoidant, dependent, and OCD (anxious, fearful)
A lot many overlapping features across the categories and clusters
Not very much evidence for the prevalence of the disorders
Never been a large epidemiological study to examine all the personality
One study showed ~10% of the population has at least one personality
disorder (~6% with Cluster A, 1.5% with Cluster B, and 6% with Cluster C)
Used to be on Axis II, but they are now just included with the rest of the
disorders as the axis system was abandoned in the DSM-5
Often associated or comorbid with anxiety disorders, mood disorders,
substance abuse problems, and sexual deviations
3/4 people diagnosed with a personality disorder have another disorder as
Difficulties Doing Research on Personality Disorders
Difficulties in diagnosing personality disorders
Diagnostic criteria for personality disorders are not as sharply
defined as they are for other disorders
Clinician has to exercise a lot more judgment in making the
Used semi-structured interviews and self-report inventories which
has helped diagnostic reliability a lot

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Different researchers often use different instruments and tend to
come up with different diagnoses
Five Factor Model has been the most influential and helps
researchers understand the commonalities and distinctions among
different personality disorders
Difficulties studying the causes of personality disorders
Only started receiving consistent attention since the 1980’s
Relativity little research has been conducted with most personality
Vast majority of research is on people who already have the
disorders so they don’t know what caused them, just that they have
Now trying to observe biological, emotional, and interpersonal
function and retrospective recall of prior events
Infants temperament may predispose someone to the development
of a personality disorder
Some progress is being made in understanding the
psychobiological substrate of at least some of the traits prominently
involved in the personality disorders
Learning-based habit patterns and maladaptive cognitive styles
have received more attention as a possible causal factor
Parental psychopathology and ineffective parenting practices have
also been implicated in some disorders
Some studies suggest sexual, emotional, or physical abuse can be
an important factor
Social stressors, societal changes, and cultural values have also
been implicated
Paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders
People diagnosed seem odd and eccentric
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Suspiciousness and mistrust of others; tendency to see self as blameless;
on guard for perceived attacks by others
Quick to react with anger or violent behaviour
Have a hard time forgiving perceived insults
Reluctant to confide in others
Bears grudges consistently
Appear to be at elevated risk for schizophrenia
Causal Factors
Little research

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Partial genetic transmission linked to schizophrenia
Very low levels of agreeableness and neuroticism
Psychosocial factors – abuse, bad parenting, exposure to violence
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Impaired social relationships; inability and lack of desire to form
attachments to others
Seen as cold and distant, unable to express their feelings
No good friends or relationships (except maybe close relative)
No pleasure in any activities – generally apathetic
Low on openness to feelings, don’t care for achievement
Causal Factors
Little research
Very low heritability – probably not genetic
Maladaptive underlying schemas
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Peculiar thought patterns; oddities of perception and speech that interfere
with communication and social interaction
Excessively introverted and have cognitive and perceptual distortions
Can be very superstitious
Might believe they have magical powers
Ideas of reference, odd speech, paranoid beliefs
Sometimes they just don’t know what to say how to interact with people so
they have a hard time making friends
Causal Factors
A lot of research
Heritability is moderate
Very strong biological associations
Cannot keep focused, cannot track moving target, low memory capacity,
and language abnormalities which are all traits of schizophrenia
Perhaps a second subtype not linked to schizophrenia – characterized by
cognitive and perceptual deficits linked to a history of childhood abuse and
trauma and low socioeconomic status
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