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Keywords:

  • personality;
  • subtypes;
  • separations;
  • attachment disruptions;
  • SWAP-II;
  • emotional dysregulation

Abstract

Objectives: This study examined personality characteristics and identified personality subtypes of adults with childhood histories of traumatic separations from a parent. Previous work from attachment theory and developmental psychopathology suggests that distinct developmental trajectories might lead to different styles of personality adaptation after an attachment disruption. Design: Randomly selected psychologists and psychiatrists provided data on 203 adults with histories of traumatic separations using a personality pathology instrument designed for use by clinically experienced observers, the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure (SWAP-II). Results: Using a Q-factor analysis, 5 distinct personality subtypes were identified: internalizing/avoidant, psychopathic, emotionally dysregulated, hostile/paranoid, and resilient. Initial support for the validity of the subtypes was established, based on Axis I and Axis II pathology, adaptive functioning, developmental history, and family history variables. Conclusions: Both therapeutic interventions and case formulation might be strengthened by considering an individual's personality features and match to one of the identified subtypes. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol: In Session 67:1–24, 2011.