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Development of an integrated model of personality, personality disorders and severe axis I disorders, with special reference to major affective disorders


Zerssen,  D von
Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Max Planck Society;

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Zerssen, D. v. (2002). Development of an integrated model of personality, personality disorders and severe axis I disorders, with special reference to major affective disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 68(2-3), 143-158.

A unidimensional model of the relationships between normal temperament, psychopathic variants of it and the two main forms of so-called endogenous psychoses (major affective disorders and schizophrenia) was derived from Kretschmer''s constitutional typology. It was, however, not confirmed by means of a biometric approach nor was Kretschmer''s broad concept of cyclothymia as a correlate of physical stoutness on the one hand and major affective disorders on the other supported by empirical data. Yet the concept of the ''melancholic type'' of personality of patients with severe unipolar major depression (melancholia) which resembles descriptions by psychoanalysts could be corroborated. This was also true for the I manic type'' of personality as a (premorbid) correlate of predominantly manic forms of a bipolar I disorder. As predicted from a spectrum concept of major affective disorders, the ratio of traits of either type co-varied with the ratio of the depressive and the manic components in the long-term course of such a disorder. The two types of premorbid personality and a rare variant of the ''manic type'', named ''relaxed, easy-going type'', were conceived as ''affective types'' dominating in major affective disorders. They are opposed to three ''neurotoid types'' prevailing in so-called neurotic disorders as well as in schizophrenic psychoses. The similarity among the types can be visualized as spatial relationships in a circular, i.e. a two- dimensional, model (circumplex). Personality disorders as maladapted extreme variants of personality are, by definition, located outside the circle, mainly along its ''neurotoid'' side. However, due to their transitional nature, axis I disorders cannot be represented adequately within the plane which represents (adapted as well as maladapted) forms of habitual behaviour (personality types and disorders, respectively). To integrate them into the spatial model of similarity interrelations, a dimension of actual psychopathology has to be added to the two-dimensional plane as a third (orthogonal) axis. The distance of a case from the ''ground level'' of habitual behaviour corresponds with the severity of the actual psychopathological state. The specific form of that state (e.g. manic or depressive), however, varies along one the axes which define the circumplex of habitual behaviour. This three- dimensional model is, by its very nature, more complex than the unidimensional one derived from Kretschmer''s typological concept, but it is clearly more in accordance with empirical data. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science BY. All rights reserve