Rethinking Dependent Personality Disorder: Comparing Different Human Relatedness in Cultural Contexts
Published in the Journal of Nervous and Medical Disease Volume 197, Issue 11
by YuJu Chen, Psy.D, Margaret E. Nettles, PhD, and Shun-Wen Chen, PhD
Dr. Margaret Nettles is WestCoast’s Intern Training Program Director
We argue that the Diagnotstic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders dependent personality disorder is a culturally related concept reﬂecting deeply rooted values, beliefs, and assumptions of American individualistic convictions about self and interpersonal relationship. This article integrates social psychology concepts into the exploration of psychopathology. Beginning with the construct of individualism and collectivism, we demonstrate the limitations of this commonly used framework. The indigenous Chinese concept of Confucianism and Chinese Relationalism is introduced to highlight that a well-differentiated self is not a universal premise of human beings, healthy existence. In East Asian Confucianism the manifestation of dependence and submission may be considered individuals’ proper behavior and required for their social obligation, rather than a direct display of individuals’ personality. Thus, the complexity of dependent personality disorder is beyond the neo-Kraepelinian approach assumed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders system.