Full course description
Personality disorders are chronic patterns of thought, emotion and behaviour that first appear in adolescence or young adulthood and cause dysfunction in relationships, work and other areas. They affect approximately 10% of the general population and are one of the most prevalent forms of psychopathology seen in mental health care settings. Over the past 30 years, there have been significant advances in the understanding of personality disorders, including their phenomenology and classification, development and aetiology. Moreover, while many personality disorder patients were traditionally thought to be untreatable, recent advances in psychotherapy and medication are showing promising indications of effectiveness in this challenging population. This course aims to provide students with an overview of theories, classification issues and treatment models of personality disorders, with an emphasis on current scientific debate. Topics include personality theories relating to personality disorders; biological models of personality disorders (e.g. genetic and neurotransmitter models); psychological models of personality disorders (e.g. modern psychodynamic, cognitive, interpersonal, integrative models); sociological perspectives on personality disorders; classifications issues (e.g. DSM-IV vs DSM-V diagnosis, Axis I vs. Axis II, categorical vs. dimensional models, polythetic definition, diagnostic techniques); aetiological issues; epidemiological issues; and treatment options.
- students are able to explain the definitions of the 10 different PDs, and gain insight on the clinical manifestation of the PDs;
- students gain and apply knowledge about the current debate of whether PDs should be considered continuous, categorical or hybrid constellations;
- students can explain the different models on PDs, like the biological model, modern psychodynamic models; cognitive models; and PD-specific models (e.g. Dialectical Behavior Theory and emotional hyperreactivity for borderline PD);
- students are explain the main goals of the different treatment models, gain clinical insight into these therapies, and reflect on the empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of the different therapies;
- students gain knowledge and are able to critically reflect on the different assessment methods used in PD research.