Dobbert, D. L. (2007). Understanding personality disorders: An introduction. Westport, CT.: Praeger.
The stated intent of Duane L. Dobbert when writing this book was to provide a non-clinical explanation and exploration of personality disorders, and he does. Dobbert approaches the subject from an “us verses them” mentality. In contrast to much psychological literature of the time, Dobbert sees the individuals affected by other people’s disorders as being “victims” and the personal with a personality disorder as being the antagonist. The preface states “if nothing else, this book will help you realize that you are the victim, not the person with the problem”.
Dobbert starts his book with case studies illustrating his position that people are victims of those with personality disorders. The introduction goes through the DSM-IV-TR definition of Personality Disorders and their associated criteria and characteristics. Dobbert’s definitions are clear and his explanations straight forwards. However, Dobbert uses a lot of black and white language and gives a very negative outlook using statements like “they [those with a personality disorder] are not capable of viewing the world from the perspective of another…consequently, it is an egocentric view, albeit inaccurate.” (page 3).
Chapters two through twelve of Dobbert’s book go through the DSM criteria for each of the ten personality disorders (Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive Compulsive and Conduct Disorder). For each, he provides at least one case study. He then discusses expected outcomes and therapies. An appendix at the end of the book outlines major theoretic perspectives of personality disorder.
I’ll be honest, and say that I didn’t like the book. For starters, I found Dobbert to be arrogant, and I can’t stand arrogant authors. Secondly, I found it boring. He literally takes the DSM and explains each sentence. However, I can see that this book could be useful for family and friends of someone with a personality disorder. I still wouldn’t recommend it though except as a last resort, because I think it has a very negative perspective. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a great experience with any books I’ve read about personality disorders, so I’m not sure what I would recommend instead (suggestions are always welcome).