Psychodynamic Research can Help us to Improve Diagnosis and Therapy for Personality Disorders

The Case of Defense Mechanisms
  • J. Christopher Perry
  • Vittorio Lingiardi
  • Floriana Ianni


Personality Disorders (PDs) are found in up to 10% of adults in the general population, and even higher percentages in psychiatric clinics and hospital settings (Perry and Vaillant, 1989). Individuals with PDs experience moderate to severe impairment in social and/or occupational functioning as well as significant distress much of the time. Research has consistently shown that PDs are also commonly associated with many other psychiatric problems, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, suicide attempts, and completed suicide, substance abuse, etc. (Oldham et al., 1995). These individuals also repeatedly use both in- and out-patients psychiatric services (Perry, Lavori, and Hoke, 1987; Perry, 1993). Despite their suffering, they are widely misunderstood by others. The concept itself of PD has been for a long time unrecognized by psychiatry, so that Hirschfeld (1993) described them as “the stepchildren of psychiatry”. Only in the last decades, PDs have obtained more attention by clinicians and they have gained a more specific diagnostic and therapeutic dimension.


Borderline Personality Disorder Personality Disorder Therapeutic Alliance Borderline Personality Disorder Borderline Patient 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Christopher Perry
    • 1
  • Vittorio Lingiardi
    • 2
  • Floriana Ianni
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Community & Family PsychiatryHôpital General Juif Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyFacolta’ di Psicologia Universita’ “La Sapienza”RomaItaly

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