Integrating a developmental perspective in dimensional models of personality disorders

Barbara De Clercq, Filip De Fruyt, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


There is growing evidence that manifestations of personality pathology are traceable in early years of life. Nevertheless, the existing diagnostic nomenclature contains little recognition of childhood antecedents of adult personality disorders (PD). The current paper suggests that these childhood antecedents are more readily recognized to the extent that the personality disorders are themselves understood as configurations of extreme Five-Factor Model personality traits. From this dimensional perspective, we propose the Dimensional Personality Symptom Itempool (DIPSI), an age-specific model for describing child and adolescent trait pathology. We suggest that the DIPSI represents a comprehensive conceptualization of childhood PD antecedents and may contribute to the understanding of the developmental course of personality disorders. Issues and concerns to further elaborate this life-span perspective on personality disorders are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Thomas Achenbach for his useful suggestions during the writing process of this manuscript. This study was supported by a postdoctoral research grant from the National Fund of Scientific Research-Flanders awarded to the first author.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Child
  • FFM
  • Personality disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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