Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder
The purpose of this chapter is to understand pathological altruism from the perspective of personality theory and research. Altruism is one of the facets of a well-validated dimension of general personality structure. This dimension—agreeableness—has both adaptive and maladaptive variants. Some maladaptive variants of altruism (e.g., excessive self-sacrifice) are part of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic criteria for a dependent personality disorder. Empirical support for this conceptualization of pathological altruism is discussed, along with two case illustrations.
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