Psychobiology of Personality Disorders

Implications for the Clinic
  • Larry J. Siever


While it has been traditional to seek out environmentally based or psychologically rooted explanations for the personality disorders, it is becoming increasingly clear that our understanding of these disorders must also include an appreciation of its biologic substrates. Brain system observed to regulate affective expression, cognitive organization, anxiety thresholds, and impulse control may play a crucial role in determining an individual’s “set point” which can become the basis around which the personality is organized. The basis of this set point may be partially genetic, and indeed, recent studies suggest that activity of enzymes involved in the synthesis and reuptake of the monoamines may play an important role in determining these system’s activities with important behavioral implications. However, salient environmental events, particularly traumas have also been shown to have lasting effects on brain modulatory systems. It becomes important to understand the convergences between these biologic systems and the psychologic constructs we use to understand personality disorder. It may be useful to identify these convergences in terms of core dimensions such as the regulatory domains as discussed above: cognitive organization, affective stability, anxiety, and impulse control and examine their underlying biologic substrates.


Personality Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Serotonergic Activity Impulsive Aggression Affective Instability 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Larry J. Siever

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