Personality; character or role-behaviour Validity aspects of the DSM-III classification of personality disord
The assessment of personality pathology, the classification of personality disorders and the relation of these disorders to psychiatric symptoms/disorders have a growing impact on clinical and research activities in current psychiatry. The vitality of the field is reflected in the existence of a separate axis for personality disorders in DSM-III, the immense increase in the number of publications, and the recent founding of a new multidisciplinary journal, exclusively dedicated to research on personality disorders. The outlooks are optimistic and despite serious disagreements about certain aspects of DSM-III-Axis II the field seems to be in a synthetic and highly productive phase. In contrast personality research in psychology is characterized by lingering controversies and a pessimistic outlook.
In this paper the author argues that these differences are the result of differences in target population, research setting and research methodology. DSM-III personality disorders are evaluated as potential valid and clinical usefull categories. They are defined in behavioural and phenomenological terms but refer directly to underlying personality structures and facilitate predictions on future interpersonal acts.
Future research should be directed to the simultaneous assessment and analysis of different personality aspects and measurement levels and methods: interpersonal aspects, temperament characteristics, cognitive structures, coping-styles and psychodynamic concepts.