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Narrations of Personality Disorders in A Dream of Red Mansions

  • Hongying Fan
  • Wanzhen Chen
  • Wei WangEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

With normal personality traits well described in the novel – A Dream of Red Mansions (DRM), there might be rich narrations of personality disorders regarding sorts of character in it as well. We have speculated that the special traditional Chinese culture (including paternalism, male dominance and Collectivism) have a great influence on ancients’ personality traits and lead to some kinds of personality disorders. Therefore, in this chapter, we would like to look for descriptions of personality disorders in the text of DRM. Personality-descriptive terms (adjective)/phrases, and sentences/paragraphs of each character were sorted and summarized to compare with the dimensional classification criteria of personality disorders in Section III of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, American Psychiatric Association 2013). Some characters in the novel, Jia Baoyu, Wang Xifeng, Lin Daiyu, Xue Baochai, Xue Pan, Jia Yucun, Concubine Zhao, Jia Rui, Miaoyu, and Jia Jing, with their impairments in personality functioning and pathological traits, might be diagnosed as antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive, or schizotypal personality disorder, or a trait-specified, respectively. Maladaptive traits in antagonism domain might be the most described traits in DRM. The second described domain might be negative affectivity and disinhibition. The psychoticism and detachment domains might be less described. Females in DRM might have the tendency to some level of negative affectivity, while males more Antagonism and disinhibition. On one hand, this study proves the cross-culture and time consistency of personality disorders. On the other hand, owing to the special traditional Chinese culture, self-direction would be difficult in some degree and interpersonal impairments would stand out with the personality disorder. There was a high level of Antagonism in the characters and special submissiveness for most females that time. Daoism or Buddhism would lead to unrealistic goal setting, and avoidance of social contact. The study implicates that Chinese culture has contributed to personality disorders or traits at least from seventeenth to eighteenth century on, and has disclosed the disadvantages of Daoism, Buddhism, and hierarchy, male dominance and Collectivism under the influence of Confucianism in the development of personality disorder. This study also calls for investigations on normal and disordered personality traits in contemporary China (see Chapter “ Cultural Contribution to Personality Disorders in China”).

Keywords

A Dream of Red Mansions Late imperial China Personality disorder Traditional Chinese culture Section III of DSM-5 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry/School of Public HealthZhejiang University College of MedicineHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Social WorkEast China University of Science and TechnologyShanghaiChina

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