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Review
, 21 (2), 199-224

A Framework for Integrating Dimensional and Categorical Classifications of Personality Disorder

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Review

A Framework for Integrating Dimensional and Categorical Classifications of Personality Disorder

W John Livesley. J Pers Disord.

Abstract

Although empirical evidence strongly supports a dimensional representation of personality disorder, there is strong resistance to dimensional classification due in part to concerns about clinical utility. Acceptance of an evidence-based dimensional classification would be facilitated by information on how such a system would map onto existing diagnoses. With this objective in mind, an integrated framework is proposed that combines categorical and dimensional diagnoses. A two-component classification is adopted that distinguishes between the diagnosis of general personality disorder and the assessment of individual differences in the form the disorder takes. Then, the DSM definition of personality disorders is extended by defining individual disorders as categories of trait dimensions. This makes it possible to develop an integrated classification organized around a set of empirically derived primary traits. Assessments of these traits may then be combined to generate categorical and dimensional diagnoses. It is argued that this approach would introduce an etiological perspective into the classification of personality disorder and improve categorical classification by providing an explicit definition of each diagnosis. The clinical utility of incorporating a dimensional classification is discussed in terms of convenience and acceptability, value in predicting outcomes and treatment planning, and usefulness in organizing and selecting interventions.

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