On Modelling Personality Disorders: Are Personality Style and Disordered Functioning Independent or Interdependent Constructs?

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Current descriptors of personality disorder (PD) are an amalgam of two constructs, personality style and/or disorder. We seek to determine whether their intrinsic personality style descriptors are proxy measures of, or independent of, disordered personality functioning. In a sample of depressed patients, psychiatrists rated 16 differing PD personality style vignettes and assessed eight differing manifestations of disordered functioning. When "personality" vignettes and identified personality clusters were intercorrelated with "disorder" variables, interdependence was generally evident, suggesting that the personality descriptors underpinning current definition of the PDs actually act as proxy criteria for assessing disorder because they are, in and of themselves, descriptors of pathological functioning. The obsessional personality vignette provided an exception, seeming to be independent of disordered function. Such results assist consideration of how best to model, define and measure the personality disorders.

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