The Implications of Recent Research on the Etiology and Stability of Personality and Personality Disorder for Treatment

  • W. John Livesley


Recent empirical research on normal and disordered personality suggests the need to re-appraise some of the assumptions underlying traditional approaches to treating personality disorder. Over the last decade, diverse disciplines including clinical psychiatry, personality psychology, cognitive psychology, behavior-genetics, and evolutionary psychology have contributed to our understanding the condition. This work has shed new light on the structure of personality disorder, classification, and diagnosis, the relationship between normal and disordered personality, the nature of the dysfunction associated with the diagnosis, the stability of personality, and the etiology of personality problems. Although much of this research is not immediately relevant to clinical practice, work on the causes of personality disorder and the stability of personality in particular, suggests a conception of personality disorder that appears to conflict with the models and ideas that guide some commonly used treatments.


Personality Disorder Personality Change Sensation Seek Borderline Personality Disorder Personality Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abraham, K., 1927, Contributions to the theory of the anal character. In Selected papers on psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth. (Original work published in 1921 ).Google Scholar
  2. Abraham, K., 1927, Character formation on the genital level of the libido. In Selected papers on psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth. (Original work published in 1925 ).Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association, 1994, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, A.T., Freeman, A., and Associates, 1990, Cognitive therapy of personality disorders. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Buss, D.M., 1994, Personality evoked: The evolutionary psychology of stability and change. In T.E Heatherton and J.L. Weinberger, Can personality change? Washington DC, American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  6. Caspi, A. and Herbener, E.S., 1990, Consistency and change: Assortative marriage and the consistency of personality in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 250–258.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Conley, J.J., 1984a, Longitudinal consistency of adult personality: Self-reported psychological characteristics across 45 years. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1325–1333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conley, J.J., 1984b, The hierarchy of consistency: A review and model of longitudinal findings on adult individual differences in intelligence, personality, and self-opinion. Personality and Individual Differences, 5, 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Costa, P.T. and McCrae, R.R., 1985, The NEO Personality Inventory manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  10. Costa, P.T. and McCrae, R.R., 1992, Trait psychology comes of age. In T.B. Sonderegger (Ed.), Nebraska sym- posium on motivation: Psychology and aging. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  11. Costa, P.T. and McCrae, R.R., 1994, Set like plaster? Evidence for the stability of adult personality. In T.F. Heatherton and J.L. Weinberger, Can personality change? Washington DC, American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  12. Helson, R. and Moane, G., 1987, Personality Change in Women from College to Mid-Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 176–186.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heatherton, T.F. and Weinberger, J.L., 1994, Can personality change? Washington DC, American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  14. Jang, K.L., Livesley, W.J., Vernon, P.A., and Jackson, D.N., 1996, Heritability of personality disorder traits: A twin study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 94, 438–444.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jang, K.L., Livesley, W.J., and Vernon, P.A., 1996, The genetic basis of personality at different ages: A cross-sectional twin study Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 299–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kernberg, O.F., 1975, Borderline conditions and pathological narcissism. New York: Aronson. Livesley W.J. and Jackson, D.N., Manual for the Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology. Port Huron: Sigma Press, (in press).Google Scholar
  17. Livesley, W.J., Jackson, D.N., and Schroeder, M.L., 1989, A study of the factorial structure of personality pathology. Journal of Personality Disorders, 3, 292–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Livesley, W.J., Jang, K.L., Jackson, D.N., and Vernon, EA., 1993, Genetic and environmental contributions to dimensions of personality disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 1826–1831.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Perry, J.C. and Herman, J.L., 1993, Trauma and defense in the etiology of personality disorder. In J. Paris (Ed.), Borderline personality disorder. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  20. Piper, W.E., Rosie, J.S., Joyce, A.S., and Azim, H.EA., 1996, Time-limited day treatment for personality disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Plomin, R., Chiuper, H.M., and Loehlin, J.C., 1990, Behavior genetics and personality. In L.A. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of personality theory and research. New York, Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  22. Sanderson, C. and Clarkin, J.F., 1994, Use of the NEO-PI personality dimensions in differential treatmentGoogle Scholar
  23. planning. In P.T. Costa and T.A. Widiger (Eds.), Personality disorders and the five factor model of personality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.Google Scholar
  24. Siever, L.J. and Davis, K.L., 1991, A psychobiological perspective on the personality disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 1647–1658.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Schroeder, M.L., Wormsworth, J.A., and Livesley, W.J., 1992, Dimensions of personality disorder and their relationship to the big five dimensions of personality. Psychological Assessment, 4, 47–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Vernon, P.E., 1964, Personality assessment: A critical survey. London: Metheun.Google Scholar
  27. Zuckerman, M., 1971, Dimensions of sensation seeking. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36, 45–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. John Livesley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of British ColumbiaCanada

Personalised recommendations