ESSPD Webinar: Understanding interpersonal dysfunctions in Personality Disorders through Social Cognition

Monday 8. April at 17:00 - Friday 19. April at 18:30 CEST

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In the recent Webinar hosted in January 2024 by the ESSPD, Christopher Hopwood illustrated how the most distinctive and clinically important feature of personality disorders (PD) is the difficulty to establish and maintain supportive social networks because of core interpersonal difficulties.

He therefore argued that PD would be better qualified by the term “interpersonal disorders”: “individuals with PD have difficulties establishing and maintaining functional mental models of self and other and attendant difficulties establishing and maintaining adaptive and functional social relationships”.

The view of the primary role of interpersonal dysfunction in driving PD pathology is consistent DSM-5 Alternative Model for PD, which states that PD are characterized by impairment in the Self and Interpersonal Domains and that evaluating the level of functioning across these domains is central to make any PD diagnosis. Focusing on interpersonal dysfunction is also timely for clinical practice: research has demonstrated that psychosocial dysfunction represents an enduring and difficult to treat aspect of Personality Disorders (PD) psychopathology, which does not seem to be significantly affected by symptomatic improvement over time and existing empirically supported psychotherapies.

Within this context, the present Webinar of the ESSPD Section of Social Cognition and Interpersonal functioning in PD aims to provide some perspectives about the potential social-cognitive mechanisms underlying PD patient’s views of self and others. The founders of the Section will focus on three diverse domains of social cognition relevant for understanding PD patients’ interpersonal difficulties.

Stefanie Lis will address the question how social cognition is conceptualized and why it might be an important domain of functioning to inform clinical work. Chiara De Panfilis will address the implications of the rejection sensitivity dynamics for PD. Finally, Zsolt Unoka will talk about the “ego-centric” social network of patients with borderline personality disorder.

Overall, this webinar will discuss how PD patients’ unique ways of perceiving, interpreting, and responding to the intentions, attitudes and behaviours of the others may shape their interpersonal dysfunction and thus may represent potential foci of clinical attention and intervention.

Chiara de Panfilis, MD
Zsolt Unoka, MD
Stefanie Lis, PhD