Researchers and clinicians have begun using dimensions rather than categories to classify psychopathology with a reliance on personality questionnaires to tap traits that can inform dimensional characterizations. A neglected concern is whether in severe psychopathology questionnaire-based assessments of personality reflect a lifetime propensity toward a diagnosis, as some personality-psychopathology models posit, or reflect the transient effects of current symptoms, as a complication model of personality-psychopathology would suggest. Accurate characterization of psychopathology is necessary to understand etiology and prescribe clinical care. We studied 127 adults with schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorder who completed well-validated measures of personality, current symptomatology, and lifetime psychopathology. We found that normative personality traits were related to current symptoms but unrelated to lifetime symptomatology, whereas the schizotypal trait of cognitive-perceptual distortions predicted lifetime psychosis severity. Questionnaire-based assessments of normative personality are likely affected by current symptom states and may fail to yield a stable characterization of psychopathology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship or the publication of this article. This work was supported by the US Department of Veteran Affairs' Clinical Sciences Research and Development Program (Merit Review Award I01CX000227 to Dr. Sponheim) and the National Institute of Mental Health (Career Development Award K01 MH 093621 to Dr. Urošević). The US Department of Veteran Affairs and NIMH had no role in study design; data collection, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or in the writing of this report.
- bipolar disorder
- psychotic disorders