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An Evaluation of Jung's Psychological Types and their Relationship to Psychopathology



This paper compares Jung's original conception of psychological types with the modern Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Big Three and Big Five personality traits in order to evaluate their relationship to various forms of psychopathology. In doing so it becomes apparent that Jung's original conception of psychological types are fundamentally different to both the MBTI and the Big Three and Big Five personality traits. Modern personality research focuses on categorization for the purposes of defining diagnostic categories and treatment strategies but this was not Jung's purpose in describing the types. Jung's differentiation of the two psychological types, and the four functions, did not imply any value judgement or that one was more prone to psychopathology than another. Furthermore, Jung's understanding of the Introverted and Extraverted types as fundamentally different ways of perceiving and comprehending the world has been overlooked by modern personality trait psychology, possibly to the detriment of the Introverted type in our extravert-oriented society.
Psychological types and psychopathology
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An evaluation of Jung's psychological types and their
relationship to psychopathology
Abstract: This paper compares Jung’s original conception of psychological types with the
modern Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and the Big Three and Big Five personality
traits in order to evaluate their relationship to various forms of psychopathology. In doing so
it becomes apparent that Jung’s original conception of psychological types are fundamentally
different to both the MBTI and the Big Three and Big Five personality traits. Modern
personality research focuses on categorization for the purposes of defining diagnostic
categories and treatment strategies but this was not Jung’s purpose in describing the types.
Jung’s differentiation of the two psychological types, and the four functions, did not imply
any value judgement or that one was more prone to psychopathology than another.
Furthermore, Jung’s understanding of the Introverted and Extraverted types as fundamentally
different ways of perceiving and comprehending the world has been overlooked by modern
personality trait psychology, possibly to the detriment of the Introverted type in our extravert-
oriented society.
Keywords: personality, traits, introversion, extraversion, psychopathology,
Jung’s psychological types
In Psychological Types (1921) Jung outlined his understanding of different
psychological types he had observed during his clinical work. These consisted of two main
This is a pre-publication version of the following article: Rush, M.J. (2019) An Evaluation of Jungs
Psychological Types and Their Relationship to Psychopathology, Psychotherapy Section Review, 63, Spring
2019, 32-39.
Psychological types and psychopathology
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types: the Extraverted and the Introverted types. He defined the Extraverted type as being
focussed on the object with a resultant flow of psychic energy (libido) towards the external
object (Jung, 1953). The Introverted type was the opposite of this with the energy being
directed internally towards the subject. The bulk of Psychological Types (1921) is comprised
of Jung juxtaposing various Extraverted and Introverted historical and contemporary writers
to demonstrate this basic division. He even applied his understanding of types to explain the
apparently contradictory approaches of Freud and Adler to neuroses (Jung, 1953). Our
modern understanding of the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extravert’ are founded on Jung’s basic
premise. Jung summarizes the two types:
The first attitude [introversion] is normally characterized by a hesitant,
reflective, retiring nature that keeps itself to itself, shrinks from objects, is
always slightly on the defensive and prefers to hide behind mistrustful
scrutiny. The second [extraversion] is normally characterized by an
outgoing, candid, and accommodating nature that adapts easily to a given
situation, quickly forms attachments, and, setting aside any possible
misgivings, will often venture forth with careless confidence into unknown
situations (Jung, 1953, p. 44)
Jung refines his theory by introducing two rational (Judging) and two irrational
(Perceiving) functions. The rational functions are characterized by being active, reasonable,
discriminating, logical, and consistent, whereas the irrational functions are contingent upon
either external objects or internal conditions; they are receptive and passive, and do not
evaluate or interpret (Jung, 1921, 1933). Jung intends no value judgement in differentiating
between the rational and irrational functions. Both are necessary and operate in all individuals
to a greater or lesser extent. Similarly, Jung also avoids making any value judgements about
the Extravert and Introvert types.
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The two rational (or Judging) functions Jung calls Thinking and Feeling. Thinking was
to be understood, in the commonplace sense, as the activity of thought. Feeling was
understood as the emotional logic (but not emotion per se) of understanding the world
through felt values. The two irrational (or Perceiving) functions Jung refers to as Sensing and
Intuition. Sensing was understood as in sensual, perceiving the inputs of the sense organs;
whilst Intuition was a perception of the process behind the façade on an unconscious level. In
Jung’s words ‘Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells you that something exists; thinking tells
you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it
comes from and where it is going’ (Jung, 1964, p. 49).
In every individual, says Jung, there will be a primary function, which is usually largely
conscious, and an auxiliary function, which is usually largely unconscious. The primary and
auxiliary functions determine and influence the person’s predominant psychological type. So,
for example, someone could have a primary function of Thinking and an auxiliary function of
Intuition. An example of an Extraverted person with these functions could be a successful
entrepreneur (their libido is directed outward towards an external object but their success also
depends on the supporting function of their Intuition. Thinking and Feeling or Sensing and
Intuition can never be the primary and auxiliary functions, as they are effectively opposing
The remaining two functions will be effectively atrophied whilst the primary function
may become over-developed. The atrophied or inferior functions will still exert an influence
but from within the unconscious, as it seeks to compensate the primary function, and this will
be of a relatively basic and undeveloped form. In extreme cases the unconscious will over-
compensate producing psychopathology.
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Jung’s psychological types & psychopathology
Jung acknowledged that the interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts between
psychological types could result in psychological disturbance, ‘The sort of demons that
introversion and extraversion may become is a daily experience for us psychotherapists’,
Jung (1921, p. 207). He states that parental influence can lead to a falsification of one’s
innate type and result in later neurosis (Jung, 1921, p. 332). Similarly, that reversal of one’s
innate type can be physiologically harmful and cause ‘acute exhaustion’ (Jung, 1921, p. 333).
Jung mentions particular nervous and physical disorders by which an Extravert may
be afflicted. These reflect the characteristic situation that the person is in that has led them to
be over-extraverted. The unconscious then creates an affliction as a compensatory mechanism
to prevent the unchecked outward flow of energy. In particular, Jung (1921, p. 336) identifies
‘hysteria’ as the most frequent neurosis of the Extravert. Jung (1921) explains that the
unconscious can become a source of self-destruction when it over-compensates. This can
result in nervous breakdown; uncertainty and loss of interests or wanting too much and too
many interests. This can lead to substance abuse or even suicide. The Introvert, on the other
hand, is susceptible to ‘extreme sensitivity’ and chronic fatigue. Table One summarizes what
Jung says about psychological types and psychopathology. However, apart from these few
general examples, Jung intentionally does not elaborate on the psychological types, conscious
and unconscious functions, and how they relate to psychopathology.
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Jung does not proceed from this typology to prescribe particular medications or
psychological interventions, and in this he differs greatly from our modern proponents of
personality types. Instead, Jung’s answer consists in restoring the balance, or bridging the
gap, between the subject and the object, the Introvert and the Extravert, Thinking and
Feeling, or Sensation and Intuition, by the use of fantasy. This, presumably, along with dream
interpretation (Jung, 1964), was what led Jung to the practice of active imagination
(Chodorow, 1997) as his key therapeutic approach. Neither are these problems of balance and
disconnection limited to individuals in cases of psychopathology, but in Jung’s view, they are
all different modes of comprehending the world and interacting with it. These problems, then,
pertain not just to the individual but also to society and culture as a whole, ‘What is true of
humanity in general is also true of each individual, for humanity consists only of individuals.
And as is the psychology of humanity so also is the psychology of the individual’, Jung,
(1953, p. 50). Our entire history of ideas, argues Jung, depends upon it , ‘Both these
necessities exist in us: nature and culture. We cannot only be ourselves, we must also be
related to others’ (Jung 1921, p. 88).
As can be seen from Table One, a number of similar psychological disturbances can
result from different imbalances between the conscious and unconscious psychological types.
This is similar to modern diagnostic categories that often struggle to differentiate between
diagnoses, referred to as ‘co-morbidity’.
Modern personality types
Since Jung first described his psychological types much further development and
research has been done. Modern psychologists talk about personality types or traits. Jung’s
contributions remain in the form of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) but
psychologists today tend to utilize the ‘Big Three’ or the ‘Big Five’ personality traits. There
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is much debate around personality and psychopathology types or categories versus traits or
dimensions. Some researchers have criticized the categorical approach to personality
disorders (Costa & McCrae, 1992; Clark, 2005) and favour a dimensional view instead. A
meta-study performed by Haslam, Holland & Kuppens (2012) found evidence that tended to
support a dimensional view of personality structure and psychopathology, although an
argument could be made for the categorical view with regard to particular cases: schizotypy,
substance use disorder, and autism. Clark (2005) also argues for a dimensional view but
allows that this is not necessarily incompatible with a categorical view, which may be helpful
for decision making processes. However, there seems to be mounting research evidence that
favours a shift towards a trait-based view of personality and psychopathology (Krueger &
Eaton, 2010).
Other personality types abound, especially in popular psychology, such as the
Psychopath, Machiavel, and Narcissist types (James, 2013), and Aggressive, Passive, and
Passive-Aggressive behaviours (Hasson, 2015). Strictly speaking, the latter examples are
descriptors of behaviours not types but this raises the question of the difference between a
behaviour and a personality type as it seems to me that the two are very closely related.
The ‘Big Three’ personality traits are: negative emotionality, positive emotionality, and
disinhibition versus constraint (Clark, 2005). The first two have been subsumed into the ‘Big
Five’ categories of Neuroticism and Extraversion respectively (Kotov, Gamez, Schmidt, &
Watson, 2010). The ‘Big Five’ personality traits are: Neuroticism, Extraversion,
Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience. These have been shown to
be stable traits across, age, gender, and culture (Kotov et al. 2010; Costa, 1991; Costa &
McCrae, 1992). They have been replicated in German, Dutch, Japanese, Filipino, and
Chinese populations, and many of them have been found to be highly heritable (Costa &
McCrae, 1992). The ‘Big Five’ traits have been shown to contribute to academic
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performance, occupational attainment, divorce, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing,
physical illness, and longevity (Kotov et al. 2010).
Although Jung’s concept of Extraversion Introversion has been retained his other
psychological types have disappeared from the Big Five. The MBTI stays closer to Jung’s
original formulation but even this takes a different perspective. Jung essentially saw
Thinking, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition as functions of the two main psychological types
of Extravert and Introvert (see Table One). The MBTI reorganizes these, plus adding Judging
and Perceiving as a dimension in its own right, to make four dimensions that result in sixteen
possible personality types. McCrae and Costa (1989) concluded that the MBTI did not align
with Jungian theory but that it did converge with the Big Five.
However, in the Big Five, even Extraversion has morphed into something different.
For Jung Extraversion and Introversion were two distinct psychological types, but for
modern personality psychologists these are now understood as two ends of a scale of a single
trait labelled ‘extraversion’ (Eysenck & Wilson, 1975). In addition, we seem to have lost the
important point that Jung was continually trying to emphasize about psychological types.
This was that an Extraverted type could never fully comprehend an Introverted type, and vice
versa, as this was an innate determinant and limitation to the way that they experience and
comprehend the world. Whilst the general idea that all experience is filtered through our own
cognitive set is generally accepted in modern psychology, this self-reflective approach seems
to have been quietly forgotten about in the Big Five discussion of personality types. As Jung
put it ‘Whatever we look at, and however we look at it, we see only through our own eyes’
(Jung 1933, P96).
Modern personality types & psychopathology
Much more research has been undertaken using these modern conceptions of
personality types than Jung’s originals. Kotov et al. (2010) undertook a meta-analysis of
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studies linking personality types to anxiety, depressive, and substance use disorders. They
found that all of these disorders were strongly associated with high Neuroticism and low
Conscientiousness. Many were also associated with low Extraversion whilst some were
associated with high disinhibition. Low Agreeableness was only found to be related to
substance use disorder and Openness did not appear to be related to any of the disorders in
question (see Table Two).
Kotov et al. (2010) emphasize that these results are correlative and that longitudinal
research is needed to determine causation. They also point out that comorbidity complicates
the issue as these disorders do not often occur in isolation. Indeed, the issue of ‘co-morbidity’
has been identified as one of the problems with the categorical approach to psychology and
psychopathology (Boyle, 2007).
Other psychological concepts related to personality types and psychological health
include Type A Behaviour Pattern (TABP), Emotional Intelligence, Type-D personality, and
Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1995), describes how aware people are of
interpersonal and intrapersonal emotional dynamics, and how well they manage them. TABP
is associated with behaviour and attitudes that are aggressive, ambitious, hostile, impatient,
and competitive. Some studies have associated TABP with Coronary Heart Disease (Denollet
1998). Day, Therrien, & Carroll (2005) found that Emotional Intelligence, Type A Behaviour
Pattern (TABP), and the Five Factor Model overlapped with each other to a large extent. All
of the three measures predicted increased personal well-being and personal effectiveness.
People who scored high for Emotional Intelligence tended to be more Extraverted, score
higher on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness and lower on Neuroticism. They were more
hardworking and achievement oriented, and less impatient and irritable.
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Type D personality is considered to be a conjoining of negative affect and social
inhibition, and characterized by high Neuroticism, low Conscientiousness, and low
Extraversion. It has been associated with cardiovascular disease, Melanoma, mild traumatic
brain injury, vertigo, and sleep apnea. Type D patients may therefore benefit from
psychological interventions that improve coping skills and decrease stress (Mols & Denollet,
‘Resilience’ is an example of another trait that can help avoid depression. Edward
(2005, p. 1) defines it as ‘the ability to rise above difficult situations’ and lists a number of
personality characteristics associated with it including: optimism, adaptive coping style,
ability to gain social support, as well as higher levels of intelligence and education, a wide
range of interests, and orientation towards future goals. Robins, John, Caspi, Moffitt, &
Stouthamer-Loeber (1996) conducted a study with adolescent African American and
Caucasian boys. They identified three personality types. Resilients were intelligent and
successful, well behaved in school and showed lower rates of delinquency and
psychopathology. Overcontrollers attempted a high level of inhibition over their emotions.
They were very similar to Resilients but had a tendency to internalize problems.
Undercontrollers were disinhibited and impulsive and showed a pattern of academic,
behavioural, and emotional problems with higher levels of delinquency.
Advantages of mapping personality types against psychological disorders include:
risk assessment, prognosis, and treatment selection (Kotov et al. 2010), assisting diagnosis,
helping therapists develop empathy, and helping clients identify their strengths (Costa, 1991).
For example, Costa & McCrae (1992) report that whilst avoidant and schizoid individuals are
both introverted the Neuroticism scale can help distinguish between them. However, they
also point out that it is the inappropriateness of behaviour, not whether it is high on the
personality scales, that is problematic.
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The degree of MBTI match between therapist and client has been associated with
higher ratings of the therapeutic relationship, especially with regard to the Thinking Feeling
and Judging Perceiving dimensions (Nelson & Stake, 1994). It seems to me that this may be
as important as any relationship between personality types and psychopathology. Indeed,
Nelson & Stake (1994) found that the best therapeutic relationships involved therapists who
scored highly on the Extraversion and Feeling dimensions of the MBTI. Therefore, an
awareness of one’s own MBTI and that of the client could be critical in developing the
therapeutic relationship.
The question of how Jung’s personality types relate to different forms of
psychological disturbance is a difficult one to answer. Firstly, because Jung was more
concerned with describing the psychological types than exploring how they relate to
Secondly, because the majority of empirical research undertaken into personality
types and their relation to psychopathology has been done using modern definitions of
personality types. Jung’s work was based predominantly on his own clinical ‘observations
and experiences’ (Jung 1953, p. 43) rather than on research evidence of his contemporaries.
Psychological Types (Jung 1921), for example, makes little reference to such research or case
studies. Jung acknowledged that the psychology of his day was at a young age and ‘… still
little more than a chaos of arbitrary opinions…’ (Jung 1933, p. 100). Modern research is
based on the gold-standard of double-blind randomized trials, a very different approach to
that taken by Jung.
A third difficulty is that ideas about psychopathology have also changed over time.
Jung’s terms, such as ‘neurosis’ and ‘hysteria’ are no longer used. Instead they have been
replaced by diagnostic tools, the DSM-5 and ICD-10, that attempt to categorize mental
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disorders on the basis of their presentation and organic basis (compare Tables One and Two
above). This has been a topic of considerable debate, especially between the disciplines of
Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology (Boyle, 2007). It seems unlikely to me that Jung would
have approved of the highly categorized approach taken by modern Psychiatry, where the
emphasis seems to be on prescribing medication to contain the symptoms rather than an in-
depth exploration of the meaning of those symptoms for the individual in the context of their
life. Indeed, Jung refers to a ‘regrettable misunderstanding’ and begins Psychological Types
(Jung 1921, p. xiv) by declaring ‘…this type of classification is nothing but a childish parlour
game…’ and that his typology does not serve to ‘…stick labels on people at first sight’.
Although stating that conflict between the types can produce neuroses in the form of hysteria,
compulsion, or psychosis, Jung insisted that the question of ‘the choice of neurosis’ was not
answerable at that time (Jung 1933, p. 93).
The danger of categorisation is that personality differences risk becoming
pathologized into diagnostic criteria. Jung pointed out that modern Western society tends to
favour the Extravert. The Introvert tries to operate within this context but often undermines
their own innate nature in doing so (Jung 1921, p. 373). It seems that this situation has not
changed as Susan Cain echoes Jung in this respect whilst attempting to re-empower and value
the contributions of Introverts in modern Extravert-oriented society (Cain, 2012). The danger
is that the Introvert’s natural way of being can become pathologized by the prevailing culture.
Denollet misleadingly states, ‘Introversion has been associated with less social support
seeking, poor quality of social interactions and low self-esteem’, (Denollet 1998, p. 2) and
does not take care to differentiate this situation from the healthy Introverted type. Introverted
types do not necessarily suffer from these afflictions. It seems to me that conclusions such as
this may be biased due to the perspective of the pre-dominant Extroverted type. When does a
natural disposition toward Introversion become a diagnosis of social anxiety? Krueger and
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Eaton (2010, p. 103) warn us that, ‘The concept of disorder involves value judgements and is
therefore inherently a matter of societal and professional opinion’. A recent example of this is
the work of Elaine Aron on the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
. She emphasizes that this
innate trait is not pathological but can often be misunderstood as Introversion or Neuroticism
(Aron, 2013).
As a trainee hypno-psychotherapist, whilst reluctantly acknowledging the occasional
necessity of categorisation and medication, my personal preference is for a more humanistic
approach to mental health that values the individual in the context of their own life. But,
perhaps, that preference depends on my own psychological type?
Aron, Elaine. (2013). The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World
Overwhelms You. London: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Boyle, Mary. (2007). The Problem with Diagnosis. The Psychologist, 20, 5, 290-292.
Cain, S. (2012/2013). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Cant Stop Talking.
London & New York: Penguin Books.
Chodorow, J. (1997/2009). Jung on Active Imagination. London & New York: Routledge.
Clark, L.A. (2005). Temperament as a Unifying Basis for Personality and Psychopathology.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 4, 505-521.
Costa, P. (1991). Clinical use of the Five-Factor Model: An Introduction. Journal of
Personality Assessment, 57, 3, 393-398.
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Costa, P. & McCrae, R. (1992). The Five-Factor Model of Personality and its Relevance to
Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 6, 4, 343-359.
Denollet, J. (1998). Personality And Coronary Heart Disease: The Type D Scale-16 (DS16).
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 20, 209-215.
Day, A. Therrien, D. & Carroll, S. (2005). Predicting Psychological Health: Assessing the
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Edward, K. (2005). Resilience: A Protector to Depression. Journal of the American
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Goleman, D. (1995/1996). Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ.
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James, Oliver, (2013/2014). Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying Backstabbing
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Jung, C.G. (1921/2014). Psychological Types. CW 6.
––– (1933/1961). Modern Man in Search of A Soul. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.
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––– (1953/1972). Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. CW 7.
––– (1964/1978). Man and His Symbols. London: Picador.
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(Word count: 4,002)
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Table One: Summary of Jung’s Psychological Types & Their Relation to Psychopathology
The two main psychological types
Self-seeking, self-deception,
unethical actions, obsession
with an ideal, prejudice, petty,
mistrustful feelings,
dogmatism, doubt and
fanaticism, ‘Nothing but’ or
materialistic thinking,
theosophical thinking,
Dissociation of feeling, lack of
human warmth, hysteria, self-
disunity, extravagance,
obsessive negative ideas.
Crude pleasure-seeking,
projection, jealous fantasies,
anxiety, phobias, compulsions,
pedantry, moralizing,
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Projections, sexual suspicions,
forebodings of illness,
compulsions, over-subtle
ratiocinations, hair-splitting
dialectics, ruthless superiority,
hypochondria, phobias.
Summary based on chapter X of Psychological Types (Jung 1921). The psychological
disturbances listed result from an over-extended extraversion/introversion and/or over-
compensation by the inferior functions.
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Table Two: Summary of Kotov et al. (2010)
Internalizing (distress) Disorders
Dysthymic Disorder
Internalizing (fear) Disorders
Panic Disorder
Social Phobia
Specific Phobias
Externalizing Disorders
Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
Antisocial Behaviour
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Presents a series of questionnaires for the reader designed to reveal different aspects of the personality--emotionality, extraversion or introversion, sexuality, sense of humor, and social attitudes. The reader may record his/her answers to the questions and then learn from the text what they show in relation to his/her total personality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Although some research has linked emotional intelligence (EI) and psychological health, little research has examined EI's ability to predict health outcomes after controlling for related constructs, or EI's ability to moderate the stressor–strain relationship. The present study explored the relationships among EI (as assessed by a trait-based measure, the EQ-i), Big Five personality factors, Type A Behaviour Pattern (TABP), daily hassles, and psychological health/strain factors (in terms of perceived well-being, strain, and three components of burnout). The EQ-i was highly correlated with most aspects of personality and TABP. After controlling for the impact of hassles, personality, and TABP, the five EQ-i subscales accounted for incremental variance in two of the five psychological health outcomes. However, the EQ-i scales failed to moderate the hassles–strain relationship. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Personality trait dimensions are related to a wide variety of important life outcomes, such as mortality, physical and mental health, and interpersonal relationships. Nevertheless, the diagnostic system with arguably the most influence in mental health settings (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. [DSM-IV]) formally includes personality primarily in the form of 10 putatively categorical personality disorders. We advocate a more complete and extensive integration of personality in future DSMs, via the explicit inclusion of an empirically based, dimensional personality trait model. To justify this position, we provide a broad review of the ways in which personality traits have proven useful in the description and conceptualization of personality disorders and other mental disorders, as well as in the prediction of key clinical phenomena. We also discuss the importance of constructing a comprehensive quantitative model of psychopathology based on data, an endeavor that is motivated and informed by the close conceptual and empirical parallels between personality and psychopathology.