Personality Disorder: The Definitive Reader

Front Cover
Caroline Jacob, Gwen Adshead
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Nov 15, 2008 - Psychology - 280 pages

Personality Disorder offers a comprehensive and accessible collection of papers that will be practically useful to practitioners working in secure and non-secure settings with patients who have personality disorders.

This book brings together fourteen classic papers, which address the impact that working with personality disorder patients can have on staff. It also offers theoretical explanations for personality disorder, and explores other issues such as the concept of boundaries in clinical practice, psychiatric staff as attachment figures and the relationship between severity of personality disorder and childhood experiences. Each paper is introduced with contextual material, and is followed by a series of questions that are intended to be used as educational exercises.

This book will be essential reading for clinical and forensic psychologists, psychiatrists, community psychiatric nurses, social workers and students.


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Gwen Adshead was interested in issues of abuse by professionals in the earlier part of her career - when she was a trustee of POPAN (Prevention of Abuse by Professionals - initially specifically by psychotherapists). It would have been interesting to have an inclusion of this aspect to the work
It would also be valuable to have the authentic opinions of those so labelled with a 'diagnosis' which is highly contested. Practitioners are using simplified checkboxes these days to label people with complex conditions - it is just too easy to dehumanise 'others' this way. A useful addition would have been to name 'service users' organisations such as Asylum; Survivors Speak order to get a more rounded perspective. The book is written before ethics and legal obligations have been updated. Readers of books about professional relationships with others should always bear this in mind

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Edited by Gwen Adshead and Caroline Jacob. Jessica Kinsley Publishers, 2009, 278 pages.
Reading books in the Forensic Focus series is always rewarding
– this volume is no exception.
Seminal papers which have clearly influenced the theoretical evolution and direction of practice across a variety of disciplines working within this field are assembled to map the aetiology and psychopathology, clinical implications, and management and treatment of personality disorder.
The Editor’s reflections introduce and contextualise the importance of each paper, with notes on subject matter, authors and relevance to practice. Also included are discussion points that will prove invaluable in reflective practice, peer supervision and training workshops.
Although the papers are not presented strictly chronologically, it is interesting to trace throughout the shift in language, paradigms, and perspectives of the original authors, which reflects an evolution in attitudes towards personality disorder in relation to the challenges faced by staff and service users in forensic settings, especially in relation to an approach of ‘enquiry and understanding’.
Most pertinently explored are issued encountered by professionals working with personality disorder, including counter transference, the concept of boundaries, malignant alienation and other practice issues and pitfalls such as opinion-based or reactive practices.
This volume is clearly important insomuch as it illuminates a comprehensive breadth of underpinning theory and will definitely be essential reading for students and practitioners alike. It will no doubt appear on the recommended reading lists for related courses across the academy.
Patrick Doyle, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Alpha Hospitals & Person First Solutions


Part II Clinical Implications
Part III Treatment and Management

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About the author (2008)

Gwen Adshead, MBBS,MA,FRCPsych is a consultant forensic psychiatrist, forensic psychotherapist, forensic researcher and psychiatrist specialising in trauma. Caroline Jacob, MBChB, MSc, MRCPsych is in her third year as a specialist registrar, training in forensic psychiatry and psychotherapy. She is currently based with psychotherapy and forensic services in Bristol but also works at Broadmoor hospital on a sessional basis.

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