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A Proposed Definition of Personality-Related Disorders

All individuals have personalities that can be characterized in terms of the fi ve basic factors, and they are likely to encounter characteristic kinds of life problems, especially when there are confl icts between their dispositions and their life circumstances. To take a relatively benign example, individuals high in O (who value variety) may be frustrated by the monotony of their jobs; those who are low in O (and cherish tradition) may be upset by technological innovation. Impaired occupational performance might result in either case.

It is these problems, rather than the underlying traits, that bring people to psychotherapy. To defi ne personality-related disorders, we need to understand the nature of these problems and their relation to personality traits. First, however, we must consider whether extremeness or infl exibility is a necessary criterion, and examine the roles of neuroticism and cognitive distortion.

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