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Lancet. 2002 Jun 29;359(9325):2253-4.

Change in personality status in neurotic disorders.

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  • 1Department of Public Mental Health, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine and Medical Research Council Unit, Cambridge, UK.


Personality disorders are generally thought not to change by much over time. We assessed the personality status of 202 patients who had a defined diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM)-III neurotic disorder, dysthymia, panic disorder, or generalised anxiety. All patients had had drug and psychological treatment in a randomised controlled trial. 12 years after entry to the study, we reassessed the personality status of 178 (88%) of these patients using the same test (personality assessment schedule). The personality traits of patients in the cluster B flamboyant group (antisocial, histrionic) became significantly less pronounced over 12 years, but those in the cluster A odd, eccentric group (schizoid, schizotypal, paranoid), and the cluster C anxious, fearful group (obsessional, avoidant) became more pronounced. The measure of agreement between baseline and 12-year personality clusters was poor or slight (kappa=0.14, 95% CI 0.04-0.23). Our results suggest that the assumption that personality characteristics do not change with time is incorrect.

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