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Abstracts: Personality and Temperament
FOCUS 2010;8:226-229.
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Zanarini MC, Reichman CA, Frankenburg FR, Reich DB, Fitzmaurice G.

Int J Eat Disord20104;43(3):226—32

Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe the longitudinal course of eating disorders in patients with borderline personality disorder. Method: The SCID I was administered to 290 borderline inpatients and 72 participants with other axis II disorders during their index admission and at five contiguous 2-year follow-up periods. Results: The prevalence of anorexia, bulimia, and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) declined significantly over time for those in both study groups but the prevalence of EDNOS remained significantly higher among borderline patients. While over 90% of borderline patients meeting criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or EDNOS at baseline experienced a stable remission by the time of the 10-year follow-up, diagnostic migration was common, particularly for those with anorexia or bulimia. In addition, both recurrences (52%) and new onsets (43%) of EDNOS were more common among borderline patients than recurrences and new onsets of anorexia (28% and 4%) and bulimia (29% and 11%). Discussion: The results of this study suggest that the prognosis for both anorexia and bulimia in borderline patients is complicated, with remissions being stable but migrations to other eating disorders being common. The results also suggest that EDNOS may be the most prevalent and enduring of the eating disorders in these patients.

Siever LJ, Weinstein LN

J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 20094;57(2):361—98

As advances in neuroscience have furthered our understanding of the role of brain circuitry, genetics, stress, and neuromodulators in the regulation of normal behavior and in the pathogenesis of psychopathology, an increasing appreciation of the role of neurobiology in individual differences in personality and their pathology in personality disorders has emerged. Individual differences in the regulation and organization of cognitive processes, affective reactivity, impulse/action patterns, and anxiety may in the extreme provide susceptibilities to personality disorders such as borderline and schizotypal personality disorder. A low threshold for impulsive aggression, as observed in borderline and antisocial personality disorders, may be related to excessive amygdala reactivity, reduced prefrontal inhibition, and diminished serotonergic facilitation of prefrontal controls. Affective instability may be mediated by excessive limbic reactivity in gabaminergic/glutamatergic/cholinergic circuits, resulting in an increased sensitivity or reactivity to environmental emotional stimuli as in borderline personality disorder and other cluster B personality disorders. Disturbances in cognitive organization and information processing may contribute to the detachment, desynchrony with the environment, and cognitive/perceptional distortions of cluster A or schizophrenia spectrum personality disorders. A low threshold for anxiety may contribute to the avoidant, dependent, and compulsive behaviors observed in cluster C personality disorders. These alterations in critical regulatory domains will influence how representations of self and others are internalized. Aspects of neurobiological functioning themselves become cognized through the medium of figurative language into an ongoing narrative of the self, one that can be transformed through the analytic process, allowing for the modulation of genetic/biological thresholds.

Livesley J

J Pers Disord. 20082;22(1):42—71

This article describes a conceptual framework for describing borderline personality disorder (BPD) based on empirical studies of the phenotypic structure and genetic architecture of personality. The proposed phenotype has 2 components: (1) a description of core self and interpersonal pathology-the defining features of personality disorder-as these features are expressed in the disorder; and (2) a set of traits based on the anxious-dependent or emotional dysregulation factor of the four-factor model of PD. Four kinds of traits are described: emotional (anxiousness, emotional reactivity, emotional intensity, and pessimistic-anhedonia), interpersonal (submissiveness, insecure attachment, social apprehensiveness, and need for approval), cognitive (cognitive dysregulation), and self-harm (behaviors and ideas). Formulation of the phenotype was guided by the conceptualization of personality as a system of interrelated sub-systems. The psychopathology associated with BPD involves most components of the system. The trait structure of the disorder is assumed to reflect the genetic architecture of personality and individual traits are assumed to be based on adaptive mechanisms. It is suggested that borderline traits are organized around the trait of anxiousness and that an important feature of BPD is dysregulation of the threat management system leading to pervasive fearfulness and unstable emotions. The interpersonal traits are assumed to be heritable characteristics that evolved to deal with interpersonal threats that arose as a result of social living. The potential for unstable and conflicted interpersonal relationships that is inherent to the disorder is assumed to result from the interplay between the adaptive structure of personality and psychosocial adversity. The etiology of the disorder is discussed in terms of biological and environmental factors associated with each component of the phenotype.

Bender DS, Skodol AE, Dyck IR, Markowitz JC, Shea MT, Yen S, Sanislow CA, Pinto A, Zanarini MC, McGlashan TH, Gunderson JG, Daversa MT, Grilo CM

J Consult Clin Psychol. 200712;75(6):992—9

The authors examined the relationship between ethnicity and treatment utilization by individuals with personality disorders (PDs). Lifetime and prospectively determined rates and amounts of mental health treatments received were compared in over 500 White, African American, and Hispanic participants with PDs in a naturalistic longitudinal study. Minority, especially Hispanic, participants were significantly less likely than White participants to receive a range of outpatient and inpatient psychosocial treatments and psychotropic medications. This pattern was especially pronounced for minority participants with more severe PDs. A positive support alliance factor significantly predicted the amount of individual psychotherapy used by African American and Hispanic but not White participants, underscoring the importance of special attention to the treatment relationship with minority patients. These treatment use differences raise complex questions about treatment assessment and delivery, cultural biases of the current diagnostic system, and possible variation in PD manifestation across racial/ethnic groups. Future studies need to assess specific barriers to adequate and appropriate treatments for minority individuals with PDs.

Morey LC, Hopwood CJ, Gunderson JG, Skodol AE, Shea MT, Yen S, Stout RL, Zanarini MC, Grilo CM, Sanislow CA, McGlashan TH.

Psychol Med. 20077;37(7):983—94. Epub 2006 Nov 23

Background: The categorical classification system for personality disorder (PD) has been frequently criticized and several alternative dimensional models have been proposed. Method: Antecedent, concurrent and predictive markers of construct validity were examined for three models of PDs: the Five-Factor Model (FFM), the Schedule for Nonadaptive and Adaptive Personality (SNAP) model and the DSM-IV in the Collaborative Study of Personality Disorders (CLPS) sample. Results: All models showed substantial validity across a variety of marker variables over time. Dimensional models (including dimensionalized DSM-IV) consistently outperformed the conventional categorical diagnosis in predicting external variables, such as subsequent suicidal gestures and hospitalizations. FFM facets failed to improve upon the validity of higher-order factors upon cross-validation. Data demonstrated the importance of both stable trait and dynamic psychopathological influences in predicting external criteria over time. Conclusions: The results support a dimensional representation of PDs that assesses both stable traits and dynamic processes.

Lara DR, Akiskal HS

J Affect Disord. 20068;94(1—3):89—103. Epub 2006 May 19

Current psychiatry relies on a purely categorical paradigm for diagnosis of mental disorders that profoundly impacts research and clinical practice. However, high comorbidity rates and relative non-specificity of family history for psychiatric disorders suggests that this categorical approach fails to identify the underlying diathesis. As an attempt to overcome such limitations, we developed a bidimensional model based on fear and anger traits or temperaments which does not preclude the use of a categorical approach. As a result, it is hypothesized that mood, behavioral and personality disorders share a neurobiological substrate according to combinations of fear and anger traits. Both fear and anger, when excessive or deficient, lead to increased risk for mental disorders and should be considered in genetic, neurobiological and neuroimaging studies. Fear traits are much influenced by the amygdala and the serotonergic, noradrenergic and GABAergic systems, whereas anger seems to be mostly regulated by the nucleus accumbens and the dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems. Pharmacological treatments with antidepressants and anxiolytics can be considered as essentially restraint on fear, whereas lithium and alpha2 noradrenergic agonists would attenuate fear deficiency. Dopaminergic antidepressants and psychostimulants are anger enhancers and antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, such as divalproate and carbamazepine, may share antianger effects. Drugs effective for manic and depressive phases probably have both antianger and antifear effects. This framework may lead to a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of mental health and disease, providing an integrative approach for future research.

Grucza RA, Robert Cloninger C, Bucholz KK, Constantino JN, Schuckit MI, Dick DM, Bierut LJ.

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 20067;30(7):1176—83

Background: Disinhibitory personality traits such as high novelty seeking (NS) are moderately heritable, and individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) frequently exhibit such traits. However, recent studies have cast doubt on the supposition that such traits are true familial risk factors for SUD and particularly for alcohol dependence. Another possibility is that familial risk interacts with personality-associated risk, in which case the association between personality and familial risk might depend on sample composition, accounting for the lack of consensus among studies to date. We examined this possibility by analyzing the association between NS and alcohol dependence in individuals at intermediate and high levels of familial risk for alcohol dependence. Methods: Data from the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, a multisite family study, were examined. Subjects were 1,111 adult siblings of alcohol-dependent index cases. Parental diagnoses of alcohol dependence and personality scores of NS from the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire were used to predict alcohol dependence. Results: A significant interaction between NS and familial risk for alcoholism was seen, such that NS was a significantly stronger predictor of alcohol dependence in subjects with one or more parents with alcohol dependence than in subjects without alcohol-dependent parents. Conclusions: Novelty seeking and familial risk interact so that the risk associated with high NS is magnified in families with parental alcohol dependence and NS is a moderator of familial risk. Accordingly, high NS is strongly associated with alcohol dependence in subjects with a parent diagnosed with alcohol dependence, but low NS may protect against the risk associated with familial alcoholism. This interaction may account for conflicting findings from studies that have examined this question previously.

Svrakic DM, Whitehead C, Przybeck TR, Cloninger CR

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 199312;50(12):991—9

We used multiaxial structured interviews and questionnaires to evaluate the ability of self-reports on seven personality dimensions to predict independent interview diagnoses of DSM-III-R personality disorders. We studied 136 consecutive adult psychiatric inpatients, excluding those with psychosis, organic mental disorders, and severe agitation. Sixty-six patients had interview diagnoses of DSM-III-R personality disorders. Most also had mood disorders. We confirmed the hypotheses that self-reports of low self-directedness and cooperativeness strongly predicted the number of personality symptoms in all interview categories, whereas the other factors distinguished among subtypes as predicted. Self-directedness and cooperativeness also predicted the presence of any personality disorder by differentiating patients varying in risk from 11% to 94%. Patients in clusters A, B, and C were differentiated by low reward dependence, high novelty seeking, and high harm avoidance, respectively. We conclude that low self-directedness and cooperativeness are core features of all personality disorders and are validly measured by the seven-factor Temperament and Character Inventory, but not the five-factor Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness inventory. Each DSM-III-R personality disorder category is associated with a unique profile of scores in the seven-factor model, providing an efficient guide to differential diagnosis and treatment.

Given space limitations and varying reprint permission policies, not all of the influential publications the editors considered reprinting in this issue could be included. This section contains abstracts from additional articles the editors deemed well worth reviewing.




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