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Pathological Altruism$
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Barbara Oakley, Ariel Knafo, Guruprasad Madhavan, and David Sloan Wilson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738571

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738571.001.0001

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Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder

Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder

Chapter 6 Pathological Altruism and Personality Disorder
Pathological Altruism

Thomas A. Widiger

Jennifer Ruth Presnall

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   dependent personality disorder, five-factor model, pathological altruism

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