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Interpersonal Dynamics in Personality and Personality Disorders

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Clinical and basic personality psychologists interact less than they should, given their similar interests. In clinical personality psychology, available evidence supports a transition from the current categorical system to a hierarchical trait scheme for diagnosing the stable features of personality disorder. However, trait models do not capture the dynamic aspects of personality disorders as they have been described in the clinical literature, and thus miss a clinically critical feature of personality pathology. In contrast, basic personality psychologists have coalesced around a consensual structure of individual differences and become increasingly interested in the dynamic processes that underlie and contextualize traits. But trait psychology models are not sufficiently specific to characterize dynamic personality processes. In this paper, I filter clinical descriptions of personality disorders through the lens of interpersonal theory to specify a recursive within-situation interpersonal pattern of motives, affects, behaviours, and perceptions that could contribute to the stable between-situation patterns of maladaptive behaviour of historical interest to both basic and clinical personality psychologists. I suggest that this interpersonal model adds specificity to recent proposals regarding processes in the basic personality literature and has significant potential to advance research on personality dynamics. © 2018 European Association of Personality Psychology.

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