Underlying Normal Traits Within Abnormal Personality Disorders

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Running Head: NORMAL TRAITS WITHIN ABNORMAL PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Underlying Normal Traits within Abnormal Personality Disorders

Student

University

April 11, 2010

Running Head: NORMAL TRAITS WITHIN ABNORMAL PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Abstract

Scholars have argued for decades concerning the fact that there are normal personality traits

underlying abnormal personality traits in people who exhibit dysfunctional personalities. The

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition is the determinative

guide on the descriptions of these personality characteristics, and it determined that there were

several models to be considered when looking for a universal clinical definition of abnormal

personality. Researchers used either the Big Four, Big Five or other models to describe what an

abnormal personality consisted of and how it related to a normal personality as studied.

Researchers measured personality differences based on qualitative, quantitative and other key

factor differences to determine normal or abnormal functioning personalities. It was difficult to

determine one substantive definition, as the traits overlapped from normal to abnormal

characteristics noted. Later, the definition of personality dysfunctions included life skills,

personal tasks and life goals, and whether the individual was able to function as a member of his

society, while meeting the expectations of that society. A person’s maladaptiveness and

evolutionary sense were added as part of the definition of whether the personality was normal or

abnormal, and whether a person had the skill to be able to manage personal relationships were

considered as well in the general definition of abnormal personality. Today, treatment options

are expanded from the traditional therapy treatments to include drug therapies, psychodynamic

therapy, day hospital intervention, and dialectical behavior therapy. To date, day hospital

interventions have proved very successful on non-schizophrenic patients suffering from

abnormal personality traits.

Running Head: NORMAL TRAITS WITHIN ABNORMAL PERSONALITY DISORDERS

Introduction

Scholars have argued for decades concerning the fact that there are normal personality

traits underlying abnormal personality traits in people who exhibit dysfunctional personalities.

Recently, scholars have begun to make an argument that current category systems of personality

disorders (PDs) should be substituted by trait dimensional scheme designations in the Diagnostic

and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; American Psychiatric

Association, 2000). Experts are leaning towards using a Big Four model, which are “essentially

maladaptive variants of the Big Five traits of normal personality, minus Openness” (Watson,

1545). In a discussion of this issue by Watson, Clark and Chmielewski, they state that the newly

comprised Big Four model excludes odd or eccentric Cluster A PDs, (Watson, 1545) and that

their results noted from three studies show a relationship examining the factors of normal and

abnormal personalities. Their results established that the Oddity factor was considered more

broad than the Cluster A traits and more distinct from Openness and other Big Five models,

which suggested “an alternative five factor model of personality pathology (considering only

abnormal traits) and an expanded, integrated Big Six taxonomy that subsumes both normal

and abnormal personality characteristics” (Watson, 1545).

Model Theories

The Watson study explains that the Big Four structure was a result of developed

hierarchical models that combined general models, like the Big Three and the Big Five models.

These former models of personality reviews included multidimensional factors reminiscent of

Running Head: NORMAL TRAITS WITHIN ABNORMAL PERSONALITY...
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