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Keywords:

  • dependency;
  • dependent personality disorder;
  • diagnosis;
  • DSM-IV;
  • external validity

The DSM-IV dependent personality disorder (DPD) criteria are inconsistent with empirical research on dependency in several respects. DPD is associated with a wider range of disorders than is acknowledged in the DSM-IV, and is less prevalent in outpatient settings than the DSM-IV suggests. Contrary to the assertions of the DSM-IV, women receive DPD diagnoses at higher rates than men do. Two of the eight DSM-IV DPD symptoms are contradicted by empirical research on dependency, and two other symptoms have never been tested empirically. A revised set of DPD criteria is offered that (a) emphasizes the dependency-related cognitions central to DPD, (b) makes explicit the variability of the dependent person's relationship-facilitating behavior, and (c) minimises attachment-related confounds that characterize the current DPD criteria.