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Our Personality Disorders Topic Center has been Updated!

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More

The term “personality disorder” refers to a diagnostic category of psychiatric disorders characterized by a chronic, inflexible, and maladaptive pattern of relating to the social world. This maladaptive pattern is omnipresent; evident in most all ways a person thinks, feels, and behaves. The most noticeable and significant feature of these disorders is their negative effect on interpersonal relationships. A person with an untreated personality disorder is rarely able to enjoy sustained, meaningful, and rewarding relationships with others, and any relationships they do form are often fraught with problems and difficulties.

You may not guess this, based on a casual look at our website, but we are one of the go-to places on the internet for information on personality disorders. Some 6.6% of our total inbound traffic consumes our personality disorders information (as of December 2010).

For this reason, it is especially pleasing for me to announce that we have entirely refreshed and updated our Personality Disorders topic center core documents. This has been a major undertaking. More than two years have elapsed since we first set our minds towards the update.

There are tons of places on the net where you can read about personality disorders but mostly what you read about are the *diagnoses* and how they are treated. Little conceptual understanding accompanies these articles. You have the disorder if you meet these criteria. If you have this disorder, this is the recommended treatment. Stuff like that. These articles fail to help people to understand what is actually happening when someone has a personality disorder. They do not convey the tools needed to allow for this understanding. This was the problem we sought to address during our personality disorders topic revision: to produce a document that would enable the reader to truly understand at a conceptual level what it means to have a personality disorder. Armed with this understanding, you are in a position to understand *why* the recommended treatments work, and why having these disorders causes so much trouble for those affected; the “patient” as well as their family and associates.

We chose Simone Hoermann, Ph.D., a New York City based Clinical Psychologist with both research and clinical expertise in Personality Disorders to write the revision. We (Dr. Corinne Zupanick and myself) then spent a year tweaking and editing the resulting document until it finally fit our vision of what a conceptual introduction to Personality Disorders should look like. Dr. Hoermann did not always approve of our revisions, so it should be understood that any errors the document now contains are due entirely to our meddling (grin!). However, the work is now done and ready for your consumption. We offer it as (we sincerely hope), the most comprehensive and in-depth treatment of personality disorders present available to read freely on the (English language) Internet.

This new document is divided into 65 new pages. It is sub-divided into six chapters:

* What is a Personality Disorder?
* Diagnosis of Personality Disorders
* Causes of Personality Disorders
* Treatment of Personality Disorders
* Personality Disorders Summary and Conclusion
* Personality Disorders References and Resources

A new diagnostic manual will be published in a few years (the coming DSM-V) and it is expected there will be significant changes with respect to personality disorder diagnoses. We have tried to anticipate some of the changes to the diagnosis of personality disorders that will stem from this update by focusing our discussion on the dimensional aspects of personality disorders rather than on the present day criteria-based diagnostic system. There is a temptation to wait on publication until the new revision is out, but we thought better of it and have decided to simply publish now. If we need to revise in a few years based on the changes, we’ll see about getting that done at that time.

This is a *living document*, meaning that we expect it contains errors and misunderstandings and will be revised and expanded over time as better information becomes available to us. As always, we welcome our readers’ feedback and suggestions for future expansion and revision. Feel free to post comments with your suggestions and with new or additional information.

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