Parents with personality disorders routinely display extreme behaviors.

  • Parental alienation tends to occur in divorces when one parent repeatedly displays extreme words and behavior about the other parent.
  • People with personality disorders tend to have a pattern of repeating hostile and unpredictable behavior in the presence of their children.
  • When parents repeatedly display extreme emotion and behavior, children tend to develop emotional problems, which may include parental alienation.

What is a Psychodynamic Science?

The study of the interaction and interdependence of psychological variables at various level of awareness. 

  • Gordon, R. M.  (2007, spring). The Powerful Combination of the MMPI-2 and the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, Independent Practitioner, 84–85.
  • Gordon, R. M. (2007, November/December). PDM valuable in identifying high-risk patients National Psychologist, 16, (6), November/December, pp. 4.
  • Gordon, R.M. (2008). Early reactions to the PDM by Psychodynamic, CBT and Other  psychologists. Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, XXVI, 1, Winter, p.13.
  • Gordon, R.M. (2009). Reactions to the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM) by Psychodynamic, CBT and Other Non- Psychodynamic Psychologists. Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology,31,1,55-62. 
  • Gordon, R.M. (2010).The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). InI. Weiner and E. Craighead, (Eds.) Corsini’s Encyclopedia of Psychology (4th ed., volume 3, 1312-1315),Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Gordon, R.M. (2012). A Psychological Alternative to the Medically Based DSM and ICD, The National Psychologist May/June, vol. 21, 3, p. 19.
  • Bornstein, R. F. and Gordon, R. M. (2012). What Do Practitioners Want in a Diagnostic Taxonomy? Comparing the PDM with DSM and ICD. Division/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, Fall, 6, 35.
  • Gordon, R.M. and Stoffey, R.W. and Perkins, B.L. (2013) Comparing the Sensitivity of the MMPI-2 Clinical Scales and the MMPI-RC Scales to Clients Rated as Psychotic, Borderline or Neurotic on the Psychodiagnostic Chart, Psychology: Special issue on Criminal Investigative Psychology, 4, 9A, 12-16. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.49A1003.
  • Gordon, R.M. and Stoffey, R.W. (2014). Operationalizing the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual: a Preliminary Study of the Psychodiagnostic Chart (PDC), Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic,78,1, 1-15.
  • Gazzillo, F., Lingiardi, V., Del Corno, F., Genova, F., Bornstein, R.F., Gordon, R.M., McWilliams,  N. (2014). Clinicians’ Emotional Responses and PDM P Axis Personality Disorders: A Clinically Relevant Empirical Investigation. Psychotherapy, Special Section: Personality and Psychotherapy, 52(2),238-246. 
  • Lingiardi, V., McWilliams, N., Bornstein, R.F., Gazzillo, F. and Gordon, R.M. (2015) The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual Version 2 (PDM-2):  Assessing Patients for Improved Clinical Practice and Research, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 32(1), 94-115.
  • Huprich, S., Lingiardi, V., McWilliams, N., Bornstein, R., Gazzillo, F., and Gordon, R.M., (2015). The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM) and the PDM-2:  Opportunities to Significantly Affect the Profession.Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35: 60-73.
  • Gordon, R.M., Gazzillo, F., Blake, A., Bornstein, R.F., Etzi, J., Lingiardi, V., McWilliams, N., Rothery, C. and Tasso, A.F. (2015)  The Relationship Between Theoretical Orientation and Countertransference Awareness: Implications for Ethical Dilemmas and Risk Management, Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
  • Spektor, V., Luu, L. & Gordon, R.M. (2015) The Relationship between Theoretical Orientation and Accuracy of Countertransference Expectations., Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(4), NP28-NP32.
  • Gordon, R.M., Blake, A., Bornstein, R.F., Gazzillo, F., Etzi, J., Lingiardi, V., McWilliams, N., Rothery, C. and Tasso, A.F. (2016) What do practitioners consider the most helpful personality taxa in understanding their patients? Division/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, 14. 

The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual-2:

Understanding Personality Syndromes
Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D. ABPP in Clinical Psychology and in Psychoanalysis


Sadistic Personalities

  • Contributing constitutional-maturational pattern: Unknown
  • Central tension/preoccupation: Suffering indignity/inflicting such suffering
  • Central affects: Cold hatred, contempt, pleasure (sadistic glee)
  • Characteristic pathogenic belief about self: I am entitled to hurt and humiliate others
  • Characteristic pathogenic belief about others: Others exist as objects for my domination
  • Central ways of defending: Detachment, omnipotent control, reversal, enactment

“We know of no reports of successful psychotherapy for characterological sadism.” 

Psychopathic Personalities Subtypes: passive-parasitic, con artist aggressive 

  • Contributing constitutional-maturational patterns: Possible congenital aggressiveness, high threshold for emotional stimulation
  • Central tension/preoccupation: Manipulating/fear of being manipulated
  • Central affects: Rage, envy
  • Characteristic pathogenic belief about self: I can do whatever I want
  • Characteristic pathogenic belief about others: Everyone is selfish, manipulative, dishonorable and/or weak
  • Central ways of defending: Reaching for omnipotent control

Malignant Narcissism

Kernberg (1984) characterizes the most problematic type of narcissistic individual as suffused with “malignant narcissism” (that is, narcissism blended with sadistic aggression), a condition that he places on a continuum with the frankly psychopathic personality 

Psychodiagnostic Chart

Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual-2’s

Psychodiagnostic Chart-2 (PDC-2)

A Practical Tool to Integrate and Operationalize the PDM-2 with the ICD or DSM

Copyright 2012, 2015, Robert M. Gordon and Robert F. Bornstein

Use: The Psychodiagnostic Chart-2 (PDC-2) is a quick practitioner rating form that integrates the PDM-2 with the ICD or DSM. The PDC-2 may be used for diagnoses, treatment formulations, progress reports, and outcome assessment, as well as for empirical research on personality, psychopathology, and treatment. Our overarching aim is to make psychodiagnoses more useful to the practitioner by combining the symptom-focused ICD or DSM with the full range and depth of human mental functioning addressed by the PDM. The PDC-2 is free use.

How to use: The clinician must perform (or have access to) diagnostic interview data and psychological assessment data to derive optimal ratings. We recognize that this is not always feasible, and in many instances the clinician will code an initial impression, then re-assess as additional information accrues. It may also be used when the person is not available and based on documents, records, collateral interviews, or other sources of information. If this is used for progress notes, there will be opportunities to re-assess and revise the person’s diagnosis as well. The validity of this chart can be enhanced with the integration of relevant psychological tests. Research by Gordon and Stoffey (2014) and Gordon and Bornstein (2018) shows excellent construct validity and reliability of the PDC and PDC-2. Additionally, several other studies support the clinical untility and validity of the PDC-2 (see below references).

The PDC-2 fillable form tallies the M axis scores and can export all the data to Excel for research analysis. Use the reset button to clear the data for a diagnostic assessment of another individual or the same individual over time.

What is an elevated score on the MMPI-2?

(MMPI-2) 23 pairs of items that are semantically inconsistent. High scores, 13 or more, have responded to the MMPI in a “yea-saying” test set, responding mostly “True”. This can be also be High due to severe psychopathology. Low scores of 5 or less responded with a “nay-saying” test set, responding mainly “False.”

What Is a Psychotic Disorder?

Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. They make it hard for someone to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality, and behave appropriately.

When symptoms are severe, people with psychotic disorders have trouble staying in touch with reality and often are unable to handle daily life. But even severe psychotic disorders usually can be treated.


There are different types of psychotic disorders, including:

Schizophrenia: People with this illness have changes in behavior and other symptoms — such as delusions and hallucinations — that last longer than 6 months. It usually affects them at work or school, as well as their relationships. Know the early warning signs of schizophrenia.

Schizoaffective disorder: People have symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Learn more about the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder.

Schizophreniform disorder: This includes symptoms of schizophrenia, but the symptoms last for a shorter time: between 1 and 6 months. Find out more on schizophreniform disorder symptoms to look for.

Brief psychotic disorder: People with this illness have a sudden, short period of psychotic behavior, often in response to a very stressful event, such as a death in the family. Recovery is often quick — usually less than a month. Get more information about the different forms of brief psychotic disorder.

Delusional disorder  The key symptom is having a delusion (a false, fixed belief) involving a real-life situation that could be true but isn’t, such as being followed, being plotted against, or having a disease. The delusion lasts for at least 1 month. Read more on the types of delusions.

Shared psychotic disorder (also called folie à deux): This illness happens when one person in a relationship has a delusion and the other person in the relationship adopts it, too. Learn more about shared psychotic disorder and how it develops.

Substance-induced psychotic disorder: This condition is caused by the use of or withdrawal from drugs, such as hallucinogens and crack cocaine, that cause hallucinations, delusions, or confused speech. Find out more on substance-induced psychosis and other causes of secondary psychosis.

Psychotic disorder due to another medical condition: Hallucinations, delusions, or other symptoms may happen because of another illness that affects brain function, such as a head injury or brain tumor.

Paraphrenia: This condition has symptoms similar to schizophrenia. It starts late in life, when people are elderly.

Empathic dysfunction in psychopathic individuals

Introduction Psychopathy can be considered one of the prototypical disorders associated with empathic dysfunction. Reference to empathic dysfunction is part of the diagnostic criteria of psychopathy (Hare, 1991). The very ability to inflict serious harm to others repeatedly can be, and is (Hare, 1991), an indicator of a profound disturbance in an appropriate ‘empathic’ response to the suffering of another. The goal of this chapter will be to consider the nature of the empathic impairment in psychopathy. First, I will consider the disorder of psychopathy and the definition of empathy. Second, I will consider whether individuals with psychopathy are impaired in ‘cognitive empathy’ or Theory of Mind. Third, I will consider the cognitive and neural architecture mediating ‘emotional empathy’. Fourth, I will consider whether individuals with psychopathy are impaired in ‘emotional empathy’. The disorder of psychopathy The origins of the concept of psychopathy probably originate in the writings of Pritchard (1837); see Pichot (1978). Pritchard developed the concept of ‘moral insanity’ to account for socially damaging or irresponsible behaviour that was not associated with known forms of mental disorder. He attributed morally objectionable behaviour to be a consequence of a diseased ‘moral faculty’. While the notion of a ‘moral faculty’ has been dropped, modern psychiatric classifications such as the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (currently, DSM-IV) make reference to syndromes associated with high levels of antisocial behaviour: conduct disorder (CD) in children and antisocial personality disorder (APD) in adults. © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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