Théodore Millon’s theory of personality disorders has been one of the most influential models in this field of psychology.
In this article we will review the biography and work of Théodore Millon and we will describe the 12 types of personality disorders that exist according to this author, the influence on diagnostic manuals has been very important.
Biography of Theodore Millon
Theodore Millon is an American psychologist whose work has played an extremely important role in the development of the psychological conception of personality disorders. In particular, Millon was a highly regarded member of the American Psychological Association, and his theory greatly influenced the DSM textbooks.
Millon was born in 1928 in Manhattan, the most important district of New York. His parents were Jewish emigrants born in Lithuania and Poland respectively. After studying psychology, philosophy and physics at several universities in the United States and Europe, Millon received his doctorate from the University of Connecticut in 1950.
During his lifetime, Millon published more than 30 books, in addition to participating in a large number of articles and book chapters and founding the Journal of Personality Disorders. He was also named professor emeritus at Harvard and Miami universities. He died on January 29, 2014 while sleeping due to congestive heart failure.
One of Millon’s major contributions is its multiaxial clinical inventories (MCMI), designed for the assessment of psychopathological personality. The test model developed by this author has been applied to both normal and clinical populations, with particular emphasis on the latter, as well as to groups of people of different ages.
Theory and personality disorders according to Millon
For Théodore Millon’s personality disorders they should not be considered as a mental illness but as styles of behavior, cognition and emotion that involve inflexibility (which limits the acquisition of new behaviors) and difficulty in dealing with stressful situations, as well as the promotion of “vicious circles” of functioning.
Millon’s Theory of Personality Disorders Describes 14 Inappropriate Patterns which differ fundamentally in the severity of the impairments and the type and source of reinforcement that guides the behavior. Each of the disorders is said to develop due to specific combinations of biological and environmental factors.
Millon believes that paranoid disorder is one of the most serious, with. This is due to the fact that he attributes structural deficits to them, that is, he defines as the main characteristic of severe personality disorders the incoherent, coherent, strong and functionally efficient organization of personality traits.
Paranoid disorder is characterized by mistrust, suspicion and hostility towards others and by the appearance of anger reactions to situations in which contempt or humiliation is perceived. Millon defines three variants: paranoid-narcissistic, paranoid-antisocial and paranoid-compulsive.
Schizotypal personality is defined by social isolation, emotional deficits, egocentric cognitive style, and extravagant behaviors. According to Millon, it’s associated with lack of early stimulation at best biological dysfunctions in brain structures such as the limbic system and the ascending reticular activator system.
Borderline personality disorder involves a marked conflict between the needs of addiction and the needs of independence. are observed altered sense of identity, erratic behavior, emotional instability and marked impulsivity, which promotes behaviors such as substance abuse and self-harm.
4. Passive-aggressive or negative
The passive-aggressive personality is one of the more specific of Millon’s proposition and is not echoed by most diagnostic textbooks. In this case, oppositional tendencies predominate, which often interfere with the activities of others. complaints, pessimism, bad temper and lack of complacency towards others.
5. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
The obsessive-compulsive, or simply compulsive, personality is characterized by rigid and excessive compliance with the rules, as well as for fear of making a mistake although they may seem insignificant to other people. This lack of flexibility very often leads to difficulties in decision-making and a lack of efficiency in the execution of tasks.
In people with avoidance personality disorder, there are common feelings of loneliness and fear of interpersonal rejection, often linked to deficits in self-esteem; this it causes hypersensitivity to the possibility of being ridiculed and therefore a tendency towards isolation.
Like avoidance personality disorder, the schizoid is believed to be primarily associated with interpersonal disengagement. However, in this case reluctance to establish relationships is due to emotional coldness, Lack of interest in others and the predominance of fancy and solitary activities.
In histrionic disorder, they arise dramatic, immature, manipulative and seductive interpersonal behaviors, Which leads to dysfunctional relationships. Lack of stability in emotions is also common.
Dependent personalities are characterized by a feeling of inferiority and a lack of self-confidence, the need to get help and comfort from other people and the transfer of one’s own responsibilities to others. These people often feel helpless and insecure if they are alone.
Narcissistic personality disorder his fundamental characteristic is the overestimation of his own personal worth. Narcissists expect the people they interact with to uphold their expectations of admiration and special treatment, and they care about themselves far more than others.
According to Millon, and far from the typical definitions which associate this disorder with criminal behavior as a key aspect, antisocial personalities are characterized by ambition, persistence and orientation of behavior towards specific goals. It is also given distrust of the ability of others and need to control the environment.
12.sadistic or aggressive
Sadistic personalities they reinforce each other by provoking suffering or discomfort (Including manipulation, cruelty, aggression and fear) towards others or towards oneself. Along with negativist, masochistic and depressive disorder, he is one of Millon’s most representative contributions.
For Millon, the concept of masochism refers to a pattern of counterproductive behavior that leads to involvement with unpromising people and activities, excessive personal sacrifice, failure at affordable tasks and ‘ rejection of reinforcement opportunities or to react positively to it.
In this type of personalities predominate depressive symptoms such as sadness, low self-esteem, pessimism or the tendency to worry and feelings of guilt. There are conceptual issues with this disorder due to its similarity to dysthymia, chronic depression, and avoidance personality disorder.