Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 15 (2), 147-53

Milestones in the History of Personality Disorders


Milestones in the History of Personality Disorders

Marc-Antoine Crocq. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.


This paper analyzes the major historical milestones in the study of normal and abnormal personality, from antiquity up until the 20th century. Special attention is paid to the interaction between dimensional and typological approaches, which was a major issue during the preparation of DSM-5. Theories of personality started with the humoral theory of Greek medicine. Pinel, and later Esquirol and Prichard, are credited with the first descriptions of abnormal personalities in textbooks of psychiatry. Between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, elaborate systems of normal and abnormal personality, associating to some degree types and dimensions, were devised by a succession of European psychologists, such as Ribot, Heymans, and Lazursky. Emil Kraepelin and Kurt Schneider proposed classifications of abnormal personality types. In parallel, psychoanalysts stressed the role of early life experiences. Towards the mid-20th century, statistical methods were applied to the scientific validation of personality dimensions with pioneers such as Cattell, anticipating the five-factor model.

Keywords: Aleksandr Lazursky; DSM; Emil Kraepelin; Gerard Heymans; Kurt Schneider; Théodule Ribot; character; history of psychiatry; history of psychology; personality; personality dimension; personality disorder; personality type; temperament.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 3 articles


    1. Confucius. Analects. With selections from traditional commentaries. Edward Slingerland (trans). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company; 2003:195.
    1. La medecine chinoise traditionnelle. Sang et souffles. In: Aperçus de civilisation chinoise. Les Dossiers du Grand Ricci. Paris, France; Association Ricci, Desclee de Brouwer; 2003:196.
    1. Theophrastus. The Characters. (Bennett CE, Hammond WA, trans). New York, NY: Longman, Greens & Co; 1902:37.
    1. Diderot D., d'Aletnbert J., eds Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonne des Sciences, des Arts et des Metiers. Available at: p.120:57./var/artfla/encyclopedie/textdata/IMAGE/ Accessed December 31, 2012
    1. Spurzheim JG. Outlines of Phrenology; Being Also a Manual of Reference for the Marked Busts. London, UK: Treuttel, Wurtz, and Richter; 1827

LinkOut - more resources