Historically, the definition and treatment of personality disorders has fallen under the rubric of psychodynamic theory (Reich, 1949). Initial empirical efforts to study personality disorders focused on clarifying connections between personality disorders and other psychiatric disorders (Akiskal, 1981). More recent efforts have focused on conceptualizing each personality disorder in terms of underlying dimensions or components (Silk, 1994). Findings from this literature are beginning to converge with a long tradition of psychometric work by psychologists on personality traits of healthy people (Costa and Widiger, 1994). In the first half of this chapter, we will review operational definitions of personality disorders and personality as well as points of convergence and divergence in their conceptualization and measurement.
In the second half of the chapter, we will review how recent developments in neuroscience and genetics relate to personality disorder symptoms and discuss some
Textbook of Biological Psychiatry. Edited by Jaak Panksepp Copyright © 2004 by Wiley-Liss, Inc. ISBN: 0-471-43478-7
implications of these findings for treatment. Explosive advances in neuroscience and genetic techniques at the dawn of the 21st century have yielded findings that hold promise for the characterization and treatment of personality disorders. These new findings may help scientists to elucidate biological mechanisms and markers associated with different personality disorders, particularly when conceptualized from a dimensional perspective (Livesley, 2001).
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