Trait-State Artifacts and the Diagnosis of Personality Disorders

Armand W. Loranger, Mark F. Lenzenweger, Alison F. Gartner, Virginia Lehmann Susman, Judith Herzig, Gary K. Zammit, John D. Gartner, Robert C. Abrams, Robert C. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


• The multiaxial nature of DSM-III has stimulated interest in the personality disorders. There are also indications that it has produced an increase in their diagnosis. However, there is clinical and psychometric evidence that a personality evaluation undertaken while a patient is in a dysphoric mental state may distort or misrepresent traits, the so-called trait-state problem in personality assessment. The present study appears to be the first to investigate this phenomenon with a clinical interview rather than with personality tests. It examined the effect of anxiety, depression, and level of global impairment on the diagnosis of personality disorder and the assessment of the criteria for the individual Axis II disorders. Eighty-four patients, most of whom had current Axis I diagnoses, were evaluated by seven experienced clinicians with a new semistructured interview, the Personality Disorder Examination. The sample evidenced a trend toward acknowledging fewer maladaptive personality traits at follow-up than at entry. There was no evidence, however, that anxiety or depression had affected either the diagnosis of a personality disorder or the criteria associated with most of the individual personality disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-728
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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