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A taxonomic reconceptualization of personality disorders: dimensions and level of dysfunction

maandag, 17 september, 2012 - 18:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculteit: Psychology and Educational Sciences
Promotiezaal - D2.01

Prof. dr. Willem Elias, Decaan van de Faculteit Psychologie en Educatiewetenschappen, nodigt u uit op de openbare verdediging tot het behalen van de academische graad van Doctor in de Psychologische Wetenschappen van mevrouw Leen Bastiaansen. Deze zal plaatsvinden op maandag 17 september 2012 om 18u00 in de Promotiezaal (D2.01).

“A taxonomic reconceptualization of personality disorders: dimensions and level of dysfunction.”

Promotor: Prof. dr. Gina Rossi

Co-Promotor: Prof. dr. Filip De Fruyt (UGent)

Situation of the dissertation

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which is the worldwide authority in psychiatric nomenclature, classifies personality disorders (PDs) into ten distinct diagnostic categories, as if they were separate psychological conditions. This categorical approach has resulted in various problems, including excessive diagnostic co-occurrence, within-category heterogeneity, a twisted demarcation from normality, and an inadequate coverage of prevailing personality difficulties. During the last decades, the field has reacted to these validity problems by evolving towards a dimensional conceptualization of PDs. Accordingly, a dimensional approach will probably be adopted in the next edition of the diagnostic manual (DSM-5), which is due in 2013.

Through four empirical studies, this dissertation attempts to contribute to the scientific debate about the description, assessment, and classification of PDs that has been held in the context of the development of DSM-5. As the overarching title reveals, the keynotes throughout the dissertation pertain to two taxonomic issues that have received the most attention in the run-up to the new diagnostic manual, being the implementation of an empirically supported dimensional trait model, and the necessity for a clearer articulation of functional impairments that are deemed central to the diagnosis of PD. The four presented studies all addressed one or both of these topics, as well as a number of related side issues, such as the utility of general versus pathological personality traits in describing PDs, the incremental value of traits and personality dysfunction, and the balance between diagnostic comprehensiveness and efficiency. 

Curriculum Vitae

Leen Bastiaansen was born on the 28th of July in 1984, and grew up in Hoogstraten, Belgium. In 2008, she obtained her degree of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Upon her graduation, she was awarded a PhD scholarship by the Research Foundation – Flanders (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen), which enabled her to work as a junior researcher within the Clinical and Lifespan Psychology department at the VUB, and to pursue her PhD under the supervision of prof. dr. Gina Rossi (VUB) and prof. dr. Filip De Fruyt from Ghent University. Her research is concerned with the development and implementation of an alternative dimensional classification of personality disorders, and is set against the backdrop of the publication of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The results of her work have now culminated into a doctoral dissertation. Throughout the past four years, Leen has presented her research results at various national and international conferences, and several chapters of her dissertation have also been published in international peer-reviewed journals.



  • Prof. dr. Gina Rossi
  • Prof. dr. Filip De Fruyt (UGent)


  • Prof. dr. Joeri Hofmans (voorzitter)
  • Prof. dr. Eva Dierckx (secretaris)
  • Prof. dr. Chris Schotte

Externe leden:

  • Prof. dr. Laurence Claes (KULeuven)
  • Dr. Joost Hutsebaut (Viersprong Nederland)