A Contemporary Interpersonal Model of Personality Pathology and Personality Disorder

Aaron L. Pincus and Christopher J. Hopwood

in The Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199735013
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

A Contemporary Interpersonal Model of Personality Pathology and Personality Disorder

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  • Clinical Psychology



We present a model of personality psychopathology based on the assumptions; descriptive metastructure; and developmental, motivational, and regulatory processes of the contemporary integrative interpersonal theory of personality. The interpersonal model of personality psychopathology distinguishes between the definition of personality pathology and individual differences in the expression of personality disorder. This approach facilitates interdisciplinary conceptualizations of functioning and treatment by emphasizing the interpersonal situation as a prominent unit of analysis, organized by the metaconstructs of agency and communion and the interpersonal circumplex model. Linking personality psychopathology to agentic and communal constructs, pathoplastic relationships with those constructs, patterns of intraindividual variability, and interpersonal signatures allows personality dysfunction to be tied directly to psychological theory with clear propositions for research and treatment planning. The model’s relevance for DSM-5 is highlighted throughout the chapter. We conclude by bringing the interpersonal model from bench to bedside with an articulation of its clinical implications.

Keywords: interpersonal; interpersonal circumplex; personality; personality disorder; agency; communion

Article.  18282 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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