Interpersonal Pathoplasticity in Individuals With Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Recent theories of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have emphasized interpersonal and personality functioning as important aspects of the disorder. We examined heterogeneity in interpersonal problems in 2 studies of individuals with GAD (n = 47 and n = 83). Interpersonal subtypes were assessed with the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-Circumplex (Alden, Wiggins, & Pincus, 1990). Across both studies, individuals with GAD exhibited heterogeneous interpersonal problems, and cluster analyses of these patients' interpersonal characteristics yielded 4 replicable clusters, identified as intrusive, exploitable, cold, and nonassertive subtypes. Consistent with our pathoplasticity hypotheses, clusters did not differ with GAD severity, anxiety severity, or depression severity. Clusters in Study 2 differed on rates of personality disorders, including avoidant personality disorder, further providing support for the validity of interpersonal subtypes. The presence of interpersonal subtypes in GAD may have important implications for treatment planning and efficacy. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Abnormal Psychology