A New Interpersonal Theory and the Treatment of Dependent Personality Disorder

  • John Birtchnell
  • Giuseppe Borgherini


The method of treatment of dependent personality disorder that will be described in this chapter requires an understanding of the setting of this disorder within the entire range of personality disorders. Such an understanding is provided by a classificatory system, called the interpersonal octagon (Fig. 2) within which the ten DSM-IV, Axis II (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) personality disorders have been accommodated (Birtchnell, 1997a). The system is based upon a new interpersonal theory that has been developed by the senior author (Birtchnell, 1993/6). Within it, personality disorders are categorised according to the individual’s relating characteristics. The therapy, based upon the theory, involves minimising what will be called negative relating characteristics and maximising what will be called positive ones. The chapter will be divided into five parts. In the first, the version of interpersonal theory to be used will be described; in the second, dependent personality disorder will be defined within the context of this theory; in the third, the therapy of dependent personality disorder, based upon this definition, will be explained; in the fourth, a method of measuring change in therapy, based upon the theory, will be introduced and, by this method, the responsiveness of dependent patients to therapy will be demonstrated; and in the fifth, the general themes of the chapter will be brought together. Although it is acknowledged that dependent personality disorder is more prevalent in women, for ease of reading only, the male gender will be used throughout the chapter.


Personality Disorder Interpersonal Skill Borderline Personality Disorder Interpersonal Behavior Interpersonal Psychotherapy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Birtchnell
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Borgherini
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of PsychiatryLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Neurological and Psychiatric SciencesUniversity of PadovaPadovaItaly

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