The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5), defines dependent personality disorder as “a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation, beginning by early adulthood and presents in a variety of contexts.”
People with dependent personality disorder exhibit an exceptionally low level of confidence in their own intelligence and abilities. They require a great deal of input and support from others in order to make even the most basic of daily decisions. Rather than taking responsibility for most aspects of their lives, persons with this disorder look to others to take care of them. Out of fear of rejection and loss of social support, dependent individuals work hard to avoid controversy or disagreement. As they are reluctant to express disagreement with others, they often go to abnormal lengths to win the approval of those on whom they rely.
Difficulty making decisions and undertaking independent projects are symptomatic of the disorder. Although they may be motivated for success or task completion, individuals with dependent personality disorder find it extremely difficult to initiate a project due to lack of confidence in their own capacity for good judgment or ability to achieve a successful outcome. Their persistent reliance on others, even for minor tasks or decisions, makes them exaggeratedly cooperative out of fear of alienating those whose help they believe they need.
See also Passive-aggressive personality ; Personality development ; Personality disorders ; Personality inventory .
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5, 5th ed. Washington, DC: Author, 2013.
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