An Integrative Dimensional Classification of Personality Disorder

Thomas A. Widiger, W. John Livesley, Lee Anna Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Psychological assessment research concerns how to describe psychological dysfunction in ways that are both valid and useful. Recent advances in assessment research hold the promise of facilitating significant improvements in description and diagnosis. One such contribution is in the classification of personality disorder symptomatology. The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual considers personality disorders to be categorically distinct entities. However, research assessing personality disorders has consistently supported a dimensional perspective. Recognition of the many limitations of categorical models of personality disorder classification has led to the development of a variety of alternative proposals, which further research has indicated can be integrated within a common hierarchical structure. This article offers an alternative integrated dimensional model of normal and abnormal personality structure, and it illustrates how such a model could be used clinically to describe patients' normal adaptive personality traits as well as their maladaptive personality traits that could provide the basis for future assessments of personality disorder. The empirical support, feasibility, and clinical utility of the proposal are discussed. Points of ambiguity and dispute are highlighted, and suggestions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • diagnosis
  • dimensional
  • DSM-V
  • personality
  • personality disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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