Lorna Smith Benjamin

The latest in SASB and IRT

Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorder

Benjamin, L.S. Interpersonal Diagnosis and Treatment of Personality Disorder.N.Y: Guilford Press.1st edition, 1993; 2nd 1996; paperback 2003.

This book expands on the tradition of Interpersonal Psychology begun by Harry Stack Sullivan: “personality is interpersonal, and not otherwise.” Drawing on the assumption that humans are on a continuum of life forms, and on the principle that natural selection results in structures that function well in each life form’s environment, it follows that assessments of patterns of behavior should consider the contexts (situations and states) in which they occur. Instead of thinking of a person as a collection of traits and/or symptoms, one needs to address patterns of interaction and their contexts. Consider the pattern of control, for example. It should not appear “across the board;” rather it should be used differently with a boss, a peer, a spouse, a young child, an adolescent, an adult child, a severely ill adult and so on. Being alert to differences among situations and states, the interpersonally oriented clinician scans for patterns of interaction and wonders, “What is going on in this person’s life now? What is his or her view of it and of him or herself in relation to it? Why does he/she do what he does?” To answer these questions, the interpersonal clinician enters the patient’s subjective world with great interest. This perspective is at odds with contemporary trait views of personality as reflected now in the proposed definitions for personality disorder in the DSM5.

Here is a link to my commentary, SIFTING AND WINNOWING THROUGH DSM5, submitted to the DSM5 task force in response to their invitation for comments from the public.

Online Descriptions and Reviews of the Interpersonal Diagnosis book:




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