Psychotherapy of Personality Disorders Needs an Integrative Theory of Personality

Sigmund Karterud, Mickey T. Kongerslev

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review


Empirical and theoretical work on revisions of the major diagnostic classification systems, DSM–IV and ICD-10, have revealed a need for a unifying theory of personality and personality disorders. A recent comparison by Gunderson, Masland, and Choi-Kain (2018), of different treatment strategies (and accompanying theories) for borderline personality disorder speaks to the same need. In this article we ask if Otto Kernberg’s (2016) outline in his seminal paper “What Is Personality” might be such a common theoretical ground. We perform a critical analysis of Kernberg’s contribution and suggest a common theoretical platform that consists of three basic personality constituents: (a) Temperament, (b) Attachment, and (c) Mentalizing/self-consciousness. We agree with Kernberg on the broad conception of temperament and attachment, though we also differ with his outline on some important details. We argue that the third constituent should be grounded in the realm of sociocognitive development, while Kernberg favors superego formation in a more psychoanalytic sense. The tripartite theory of personality that we outline aims to integrate emotional dispositions and personality traits (temperament) with interpersonal relatedness (psychoanalytic approaches) and social cognition, and it is fundamentally rooted in evolutionary reasoning. We discuss the relevance of this model for theoretical integration of the various empirically supported treatment approaches to borderline personality disorder. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Sider (fra-til)34-53
TidsskriftJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Udgave nummer1
Tidlig onlinedato2020
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2021

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