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Psychopathology. 2011;44(1):21-6. doi: 10.1159/000317271. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

The relationship between personality organization and psychiatric classification in chronic pain patients.

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Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



The present study investigated the relationship between psychiatric classification and personality organization (PO) in a secondary/tertiary clinical sample of chronic pain patients (CPPs).


Forty-three patients were administered the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID I+II) and the Structured Interview of Personality Organization (STIPO). The prevalence of axis I and axis II disorders was correlated with the STIPO level of PO. The STIPO dimensional ratings of patients without personality disorder (PD) were compared to those of patients diagnosed with one or more PDs.


Axis I comorbidity was high (93%), and 63% of the patients met the criteria for at least one axis II diagnosis. Twenty-five patients (58%) were diagnosed as borderline PO, with high-level impairments in the dimensions 'coping/rigidity', 'primitive defenses' and 'identity'. Higher axis I and axis II comorbidity corresponded with greater severity of PO impairment. No difference was found between the dimensional ratings of patients without PD and those of patients with one or more PDs.


The assessment of PO is a crucial issue for diagnosis and treatment planning in CPPs, since it represents a measure of structural impairment that is to a considerable extent independent of axis I and II diagnoses. Moreover, the STIPO dimensional rating focuses on the most salient dysfunctions at a given time.

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