Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 75 Issue 1 (March 2002), Pages 1-122

Aberrant social relations in the personality disorders (pages 19-31)

Research on the interpersonal aspects of personality disorders (PDs) has generally sought to describe them in terms of behavioural dispositions, often mapping these dispositions onto the interpersonal circumplex. The present study, in contrast, tested a theory that accounts for PDs as systematic disturbances in relationships between people. Self‐reports of 57 participants experiencing significant interpersonal difficulties showed many predicted associations between PD symptoms and aberrant enactment of four elementary forms of social relationships (Fiske, 1991). Symptoms were associated with aberrant motivations for, and cognitive implementations of, these ‘relational models’, and with difficulties conducting them. These associations were comparable in strength to, but largely independent of, those obtained with a circumplex measure. Aberrations of authority‐ and equality‐based relationships were central to many PDs, but not captured well by the circumplex. A relational analysis affords a fruitful and largely unexplored perspective on Ps.

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