The Dimensional approach deviates from the common view that is used by the common approaches of viewing personality traits and disorders in distinct and separate categories and views personalities from continuous categories. The key proponents to this approach were psychoanalyst Dr. Kernberg and Carl G. Jung. According to Jung in his theory of psychological types human consciousness is characterized by its preference of general attitude and by preference within the two pairs of mental functions.  Dr. Kernberg on the other hand had a dimension called personality organization which described the severity of a disorder and the dimension of introversion and extroversion (Hoermann et al, 2013).

Jung’s approach to dimensional psychology was from the conclusion that one of the mental functions is dominant in any individual. Therefore the mental functions of sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving were all subject to the general attitude of extraversion or introversion. The individual’s attitude pointed to the direction where the mind was sourcing its energy from whereby the extraverts sourced their energy from the outside world while the introverts sourced their energy from their inner world. The psychologist who introduced two of the three mental bipolar dimensions (dichotomies) described the mental processes that take place on reception of information. The first dichotomy (irrational) described how people receive information. People in the sensing category put more importance on information received directly through their senses while those in the intuition category relied on the conception about things and they general view of the world. The second dichotomy (rational) described how people process information whereby thinking represented people who are less emotional and hence make decisions on unbiased reasoning while feeling described the individuals whose decisions are based on emotions and feelings.

Kernberg’s approach on the other hand looked like a grid with two intersecting lines representing the two dimensional approach with the vertical line representing the degree of personality organization while the x axis represented the dimension of introversion to extroversion. The axis is then used to trace the position of an individual guided by the degree of personality organization. The most important part however was Kernberg’s definition of the two dimensions. Introversion referred to individuals who derived much of their energy from time spent alone and tended to direct their attention inwardly. Extroversion on the other hand meant individuals who derived much of their energy from interactions with other people and tended to direct their energy towards others. Just like Jung’s approach this approach seek to analyze the thinking process of an individual whereby the introverts process their thoughts and experiences without an audience while the extroverts depend on the audience to complete the same process.

In the context of disorders, the dimensional approach is theoretically consistent with the complexity symptom patterns observed clinically, are theoretically consistent with the observed lack of discrete boundaries between different types of psychopathology and between normality and psychopathology, increase reliability and provides a basis for understanding symptom heterogeneity within diagnoses by retaining information about component trait ( Weiner & Reedheim, 2003).

The typological approach on the other hand puts more emphasis on the generic type of religion and religious phenomena (Engebretson, 2010). The approach argues that the religion is a concept and study of other religions helps us in expanding the concept of religion that we have in our societies. The main concern of typological approach is to acquire the insights gained from a wider cross-cultural study of religion to bear any particular religious phenomena (Engebretson, 2010). The typological approach can therefore be said to be explaining psychological issues from a religious view. This approach has a number of benefits since with typological instruments any individual has an equal and significant probability a factor that leads to the recipients being open to feedback and its more extensive in the areas of personality that they cover.

Having that in mind, an analysis of the two approaches identifies various differences and more specifically benefits that the dimensional approach which is the more applied of the two approaches. The dimensional view of psychopathology is theoretically more accurate in practice as compared to the typological approach. The main reason behind this is the fact that the dimensional view analysis of situations and mental processes in relationship to the day to day activities of an individual unlike the typological view which basis its argument from a general view. The specialization leads to more accurate discoveries and classifications.

Another factor to consider is the fact that personality and personality traits have a tendency to be discussed from a dimensional approach. This is mainly because dimensions have various advantages which are important for measurement and statistical purposes, describing cases at borders and connecting them with the large body of normal personality research a factor that is not available for the typological approach (Oldman et al, 2009). These benefits arise from the detailed and more specific approach of the dimensional approach. This is due to the fact that dimensional approach focuses more specifically on the process of information that reaches the mind.

The fact that dimensional approach fits with other accounts of chronic development disorders  which have the capability of assessing vulnerability and resilience factor and reframe personality disorder as a disability not a disease (Sarkar and Adshead , 2012). This is of major importance especially in the real situation application as it does not only identifying the problem but also provide a simple method of solving it. Though topological is applicable in many cases, the ease of fit of the dimensional approach gives it a major edge over it.

The approach has also another benefit in the form of its ability to assist in limiting the reductionist and a rather stigmatizing approach to personality disorder. The approach views the individuals as having ‘lifelong’ condition that is impermeable to change. This approach is unique to the dimensional approach as the view on the affected individuals can only be taken if the situation from the dimensional approach.

Dimensional approach may not be the recommended or the most common approach to personality and disorder, however it can be termed as the most specific and realistic approach of describing the thoughts process. The main reason behind this is the ability of the approach to identify specific functions of the mind and separating them into two possible views that the mind may contemplate of. This therefore gives the approach an edge over less complex approaches since in any way study of personality and disorder is complex.




Hoermann, S., Zupanick, C. E., & Dombeck, M. (2013, December 6). Mental Health,        Depression, Anxiety, Wellness, Family & Relationship Issues, Sexual Disorders             & ADHD Medications. Mental Health, Depression, Anxiety, Wellness, Family &       Relationship Issues, Sexual Disorders & ADHD Medications. Retrieved May 20,         2014, from

Next Steps. (n.d.). Personality Type Explained. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from   

Oldham, J. M., Skodol, A. E., & Bender, D. S. (2009). Essentials of personality     disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub..

Sarkar, J., & Adshead, G. (2012). Management and General Treatment       Approaches. Clinical topics in personality disorder (p. 162). London: RCPsych       Publications.


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