Chapter

Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder

Thomas A. Widiger and Jennifer Ruth Presnall

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.003.0068
Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder

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The purpose of this chapter is to understand pathological altruism from the perspective of personality theory and research. Altruism is one of the facets of a well-validated dimension of general personality structure. This dimension—agreeableness—has both adaptive and maladaptive variants. Some maladaptive variants of altruism (e.g., excessive self-sacrifice) are part of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic criteria for a dependent personality disorder. Empirical support for this conceptualization of pathological altruism is discussed, along with two case illustrations.

Keywords: dependent personality disorder; five-factor model; pathological altruism

Chapter.  4083 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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