Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Rhea Merck, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Mike McCall, Ph.D.


Ambiguity between some characteristics of Narcissistic and Antisocial Personality Disorders has caused difficulties in the accurate diagnosis of these disorders (Gunderson & Ronningstam, 2001; Burke, 2006), and some clinicians and researchers have suggested that this may reflect a lack of clinical utility in the current categorical model of diagnosing personality disorders (Livesley, 2001). This study identifies confounding factors in the concepts of NPD and ASPD as enumerated in the DSM-5 (APA, 2013) and DSM-IV-TR (APA, 2000). Concepts identified in independent research that may clarify some apparent similarities and assist in differentiating between the two disorders are discussed. Clarifying features of aggression, exploitation, and lack of empathy are used to differentiate between behavior characteristic of ASPD and NPD. A biographical summary and DSM diagnosis of the infamous American cult leader Jim Jones is provided, using the clarifying features identified to determine the pathological root of Jones's behaviors. Finally, the implications of these confounding factors for the validity of current DSM framework is discussed, and the Five Factor Model of personality disorders is suggested as an alternate method of diagnosing personality disorders that may allow clinicians to circumvent the conceptual ambiguity that often arises from the current categorical model.

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