This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 12 table of contents.

Summary: Axis 2 of DSM-IV

Personality disorders come in eleven varieties in DSM-IV. Each is an inflexible and maladaptive pattern which can make life difficult for the person who has it, as well as others who live with that person. However, personality disorders typically do not provoke a person to seek treatment. A failed marriage or inability to hold a job is more likely to draw attention to the problem.

Of the eleven personality disorders, perhaps the most important is the antisocial personality, previously called by other names such as psychopath and sociopath. The person with this disorder is guiltless and feels no remorse about hurting other people or violating social norms. If caught doing something illegal, such a person will apologize readily but often will go back and do the same thing later.

Sociopaths may be intelligent and charming, which makes them even more dangerous to others. The disorder is not genetically determined; if one member of an identical twin pair is an sociopath that does not mean the other one will be. Some psychologists speculate that certain hero types who seek intense stimulation and risky situations may be constitutionally similar to people with the antisocial personality. However, the hero types have learned to turn their energies to socially useful activities in which their tolerance of risky and stressful situations is beneficial.


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