Abnormal Psychology Study Guide

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Chapter 16 — Personality Disorders

Slides, handouts, and answers keys created by Karen Clay Rhines, Ph.D., Seton Hall University

Handout 2: What is Psychological Abnormality?

What is personality?

Personality is a unique and long-term pattern of inner experience and outward behavior

Personality tends to be consistent and is often described in terms of “traits”

These traits may be inherited, learned, or both

Personality is also flexible, allowing us to adapt to new environments

For those with personality disorders, however, that flexibility is usually missing

Handout 3: Personality Disorders

What is a personality disorder?

A very rigid pattern of inner experience and outward behavior

This pattern is seen in most interactions, differs from the experiences and behaviors usually expected, and continues for years

Handout 4: Classifying Personality Disorders

A personality disorder is diagnosed only when it causes impairments in social or occupational functioning, or when it causes personal distress

Personality disorders typically become recognizable in adolescence or early adulthood

. Generally, the affected person does not regard his or her behavior as undesirable or problematic

It has been estimated that 9 to 13% of all adults may have a personality disorder

Handout 5: Classifying Personality Disorders

Classifying these disorders is difficult because little is known about their origins or development

They are diagnosed on Axis II of the DSM-IV

Handout 6: Classifying Personality Disorders

Those diagnosed with personality disorders are often also diagnosed with an Axis I disorder

This relationship is called “comorbidity”

Axis II disorders my predispose people to develop an Axis I disorder, or Axis I disorders may set the stage for Axis II disorders, or some biological condition may set the stage for both!

Whatever the reason, research indicates that the presence of a personality disorder complicates and reduces a person’s chances for a successful recovery

Handout 8: Classifying Personality Disorders

The various personality disorders overlap each other so much that it can be difficult to distinguish one from another

The frequent lack of agreement between clinicians and diagnosticians has raised concerns about the validity and reliability of these categories

Handout 10: “Odd” Personality Disorders

People with these disorders display behaviors similar to, but not as extensive as, schizophrenia

Behaviors include extreme suspiciousness, social withdrawal, and peculiar ways of thinking and perceiving things

Such behaviors leave the person isolated

Some clinicians believe that these disorders are actually related to schizophrenia, and thus call them “schizophrenia spectrum disorders”

Handout 11: “Odd” Personality Disorders

Clinicians have learned much about the symptoms of odd personality disorders but little about effective treatment for these disorders

In fact, people with these disorders rarely seek treatment

Handout 14: How Do Theorists Explain Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The proposed explanations of this disorder, like those of most other personality disorders, have received little systematic research

Psychodynamic theorists trace the pattern back to early interactions with demanding parents

Cognitive theorists suggest that maladaptive assumptions such as “People are evil and will attack you if given the chance” are to blame

Biological theorists propose genetic causes and have looked at twin studies to support this model

Handout 15: Treatments for Paranoid Personality Disorder

People with paranoid personality disorder do not typically see themselves as needing...
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