Development and Psychopathology

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A source, a cascade, a schizoid: A heuristic proposal from The Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders

Mark F. Lenzenwegera1 c1

a1 State University of New York at Binghamton and Weill Cornell Medical College


It is argued that personality pathology represents the final emergent product of a complex interaction of underlying neurobehavioral systems as well as environment inputs. A number of factors may be involved in the developmental pathway and a cascading of effects is plausible, although a unifying cascade for all personality disorders is not likely. The present study suggests a possible cascade relevant to one personality disorder: schizoid personality disorder in emerging adulthood. In brief, it is hypothesized that the absence of a relationship characterized by a rich degree of psychological proximal process in early childhood, which is associated with nurturance and the facilitation of more complex development, predicts impairment in the actualization of the affiliation system (i.e., that system that facilitates interpersonal connectedness and social bonds in human beings and is under substantial genetic influence), and this impairment in the affiliation system predicts the appearance of schizoid personality disorder symptoms in emerging adulthood (late teens/early 20s), which persists over time into emerging adulthood. The impairment in the affiliation system is argued to proceed through childhood sociality as reflected in temperament on through adult personality as reflected in communal positive emotion. Furthermore, it is also hypothesized that the relationship between proximal processes and the affiliation system maintains irrespective of other childhood temperament factors that might adversely impact early parent/caregiver and child relations. The data for a preliminary illustration of this possible cascade are drawn from The Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders, which is a prospective, multiwave study of personality disorders, personality, and temperament in a large sample of adults drawn from a nonclinical population.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mark F. Lenzenweger, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Binghamton, Science IV, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000; E-mail:


This research was partially supported by Grant MH-45448 from the National Institute of Mental Health, Washington, DC. I thank Armand W. Loranger for providing training and consultation on the use of the International Personality Disorder Examination in The Longitudinal Study of Personality Disorders, Lauren Korfine for project coordination in the early phase of the study, the late Urie Bronfenbrenner for discussions about proximal processes, Abigail A. Baird for discussions about temperament and proximal processes, Sarah A. Chambers for assistance with preliminary analyses, and Irving I. Gottesman for a useful consultation on historical issues in relation to schizoid pathology.