European perspectives on personality disorders: Knowing a complex history for a (hopefully) bright future


Andrea Fossati, Servizio di Psicologia Clinica e Psicoterapia, San Raffaele Turro, via Stamira d'Ancona 20, 20127 Milan, Italy. Email:


A recent focus in Western European research on personality disorders (PDs) has been an attempt to generate an integrative perspective or at least a common framework that could be used by researchers with different theoretical orientation to exchange and integrate their findings. This article discusses 19th and 20th century Western European perspectives on PDs, which led to their conceptualization as separate entities. In particular, we focus on the contribution of three approaches: the psychiatric approach, the dynamic contribution and the individual difference perspective. European tradition suggests revising current PD classification systems to produce PD diagnoses that are close to clinical reality but also grounded in data from scientific studies and characterized by a high degree of transtheoretical acceptance. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.