The interpersonal core of personality pathology

Christopher J. Hopwood, Aidan G C Wright, Emily Ansell, Aaron L. Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

110 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that personality pathology is, at its core, fundamentally interpersonal. The authors review the proposed DSM-5 Section 3 redefinition of personality pathology involving self and interpersonal dysfunction, which they regard as a substantial improvement over the DSM-IV (and Section 2) definition. They note similarities between the proposed scheme and contemporary interpersonal theory and interpret the Section 3 definition using the underlying assumptions and evidence base of the interpersonal paradigm in clinical psychology. The authors describe how grounding the proposed Section 3 definition in interpersonal theory, and in particular a focus on the "interpersonal situation," adds to its theoretical texture, empirical support, and clinical utility. They provide a clinical example that demonstrates the ability of contemporary interpersonal theory to augment the definition of personality pathology. The authors conclude with directions for further research that could clarify the core of personality pathology, and how interpersonal theory can inform research aimed at enhancing the Section 3 proposal and ultimately justify its migration to Section 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-295
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Hopwood, C. J., Wright, A. G. C., Ansell, E., & Pincus, A. L. (2013). The interpersonal core of personality pathology. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27(3), 270-295.