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The contribution of Sidney Blatt’s two-polarities model to the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual

Vittorio Lingiardi, Nancy McWilliams, Laura Muzi
  • Vittorio Lingiardi
    Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy |
  • Nancy McWilliams
    Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, United States
  • Laura Muzi
    Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy


This article reviews the theoretical and empirical contributions of Blatt’s two-polarities model of personality development and psychopathology to the second edition of the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM-2). First, we briefly provide an overview of the manual’s main features and describe the guiding principles of the revision process. We then discuss in more detail how Blatt’s model, which is focused on the dialectic interaction between anaclitic-introjective and relatedness vs self-definition dimensions in both normal and disrupted personality development, increases the PDM-2’s theoretical and empirical comprehensiveness and clinical utility, especially concerning the classification and assessment of personality and overall mental functioning in adult populations. Finally, we address the implications for the therapeutic process, showing how anaclitic and introjective patients may be differentially responsive to different psychodynamic techniques (e.g., supportive or expressive interventions). Taken together, these considerations demonstrate the importance of a more theory-driven and empirically informed diagnostic system that embraces, in accordance with Sidney Blatt’s empirically supported and psychoanalytically-oriented ideas, the complexities of human experience (both normal and pathological) and captures the subjective and underlying dynamics of psychological symptoms and syndromes.


Relatedness; Self-definition; Two-polarities model; Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual; Personality development

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Submitted: 2016-10-04 10:08:03
Published: 2017-04-13 09:42:34
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Copyright (c) 2017 Vittorio Lingiardi, Nancy McWilliams, Laura Muzi

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