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AbstractBACKGROUND: Although the question of whether or not personality changes is fundamental to much of what clinicians do, we do not appear to be very curious about the question itself.
METHOD: This paper considers three separate but related issues: (a) Does personality change? (b) If it does, then what changes? (c) How can we show that change has taken place? Costa and McCrea have produced a model of personality that helps to answer (a) and (b), as it distinguishes 'Basic Tendencies' from 'Characteristic Adaptations'. The former are largely innate, fixed dispositions that produce the latter (which are highly variable) depending on its interaction with differing environments. Thus, personality is both static and dynamic depending on its definition. It will also be argued that detecting change is complex as there are many alternative definitions of the relevant outcome variable. Moreover, measuring several different outcomes does not help as change in one measure is often not matched by a concordant change in another. Some practical examples are provided to support this position.
CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of a firm theoretical base, the author believes that only limited conclusions can be drawn about the efficacy of treatment in personality disorder. [References: 30]