Selfhood, Identity and Personality Styles
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More About This Title Selfhood, Identity and Personality Styles


A key text for Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, as well as trainees in the area. Presenting a clinical model which has close connections with American constructivist psychotherapy and Bowlby’s Attachment Theory.
  • Delineates a set of principles in the study of consciousness that place the first-person perspective at the heart of the analysis of emotional disorders
  • Differentiates six personality styles, describing the origin of the subjective emotional experience; the ordering and the regulation of the emotional domain, and the psychopathological disorders
  • Provides neuroscientific evidence showing that brain activity could be related to personality styles

Praise for Selfhood, Identity and Personality Styles:

“Arciero and Bondolfi show in fine detail how the sense of self emerges in first- and second-person experiences, forming a dynamic, emotive and narrative identity; they then brilliantly demonstrate how this self-identity gets distorted and disrupted in the pathologies that directly undermine this process. This is a landmark study that brings together materials from multiple disciplines. Their analysis provides a clear account of how our existential being-in-the-world is modulated by narrative practices. They show how the ongoing construction of personality delineated by the various emotional tendencies that are sedimented in the individual’s life comes to be reflected in personal narrative. Arciero and Bondolfi continuously make insightful connections between research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and emotion studies and then carry these basic insights into the realm of psychiatry. The psychiatric analyses offered here are thus enriched by clinical vignettes and enlightened by the integration of philosophical (especially phenomenological and hermeneutical), psychological, neuroscientific, and literary dimensions”.

Shaun Gallagher, Professor of Philosophy, University of Central Florida

“Arciero and Bondolfi have written a timely, thought-provoking and challenging book, providing the reader with a refreshingly new account of Self-identity and its disorders. A cogent and novel contribution to psychiatric thought that wonderfully integrates philosophy, psychopathology and contemporary neuroscience. This book will push psychiatry in new directions. A must read!.”

Vittorio Gallese, Professor of Human Physiology, University of Parma,Italy

Selfhood, Identity, and Personality Styles is a highly ambitious work of theoretical synthesis: neuroscience, phenomenology, and social constructionism are joined together with the study of both literature and psychopathology. Arciero and Bondolfi offer sophisticated and intriguing discussions not only of mirror neurons and developmental psychology, but also of ideas from Aristotle, Kant, and Heidegger, of characters from Dostoevsky, Kleist, and Pessoa, and of patients from clinical practice. A ground-breaking, first attempt to show the relevance of the interdisciplinary study of basic self-experience for our understanding of character styles and personality disorders.”

Louis A. Sass, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

  “This is a scholarly book which will provide the reader with plenty to chew on. This book will make you think, will illuminate how people function and will help you understand how self disordered experience, such as the feeling that one disappears or doesn’t exist when another leaves, occurs. The authors tackle with great sophistication, the big questions of how sameness, changing experience and temporality are woven together by language and narrative. Refusing to be reduced to the simplicity of objectivist account of functioning they offer profound phenomenological views on identity and emotion that show a deep appreciation of the complexity of what it is to be a person. Their analysis of functioning leads to the specification of inward and outward dispositional dimensions and using clinical and literary examples they provide descriptions of different styles of personality along this continuum ranging from eating disorder prone personalities, focused on the other at one end of the continuum and depression prone personalities focused excessively inwardly, at the other end.”

Leslie Greenberg,Professorof Psychology, York University, Canada


Giampiero Arciero is  Director of  the Institute of Constructivist Psychology and Psychotherapy of Rome (IPRA) and works as a Consultant at the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Geneva. He also collaborates with the Psychiatric Neuroscience Group, University of Bari, Italy.

His publications  include Experience,Explanation, and the Quest for Coherence (2000) in Neimeyer A.R., Raskin D.J. (Eds), Constructions of Disorder. Identity, Personality  and Emotional Regulation (2004) in Freeman, A., Mahoney, M. J., & DeVito, P. (Eds.). Cognition and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). He is the author of Studi e dialoghi sull’identità personale (2002),Estudios y Dialogos sobre la identidad personal (2 edition)(2005),Sulle Tracce di Se’(2006)Tras las huellas de sí mismo (2009).

Guido Bondolfi is a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and a mindfulness instructor (MBCT and MBSR). He is “Chargé de Cours” at the Medical School of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) where he teaches Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. As head of a “Secteur” and of a specialized programme for depressive disorders at the Department of Psychiatry of the Geneva University Hospitals, Guido Bondolfi’s research interests include cognitive psychotherapy, mood disorders and pathological gambling.

He is the author of more than fifty peer reviewed publications and of a book: “Traitement intégré de la dépression : de la résistance à la prévention de la rechute” (2004).


Table of Contents


Chapter 1

Subjectivity and Ipseity

From Kant to cybernetics

The sense of Self and the variety of experience

Non-linear systems and the construction of the Self

  1. Non-linear Systems
  2. Construction of the Self

The Organization of living systems and Constructivism of the Self.

  1. The Organization of living systems
  2. Constructivism of the Self

Robert’s Self from a systemic perspective

The continuity of the sense of Self

The return of the world and the question who (Die Werfrage)

  1. Returning to the world
  2. The question who (Die Werfrage)

Finding itself in things and with others



Chapter 2

Ipseity and Language

Traces of the other

Shared meaning

Finding oneself in the world: suggestions from phenomenology


The significativity of expressions and objects

Referential communication

Oneself in the mirror and in the refraction of language

Recognition of Self in the mirror and in language

Affective engagements

Acting and speaking

Chapter 3

Personal Identity

Speaking of the past

Stories of the future

The sense of Self in the Age of reason

The modes of identity



The body, pain, and others

Chapter 4


Embodied emotions and judgments of the body


E-moting with others

Emotional inclinations

Constructionist Situatedness

The impact of technology

Technological tuning

Mediated affective engagement


Chapter 5

The “Eating Disorder-prone” Style of Personality

Co-perceiving the Self and Other


  1. Anorexia nervosa
  1. Bulimia Nervosa
  2. Binge Eating Disorder.
  3. Disorders connected to male body shape.
  4. Behavioural addictions (compulsive buying, pathological gambling, kleptomania, Internet addiction, impulsive-compulsive sexual behaviour, pyromania).

Chapter 6

The Obsessive-Compulsive-Prone Style of Personality

  1. Michael Kohlhaas
  2. Mr Prokharchin.


Thematic personality disorders



Logical complacency

OCD Disorders

Case vignettes:Uncertainty about One’s Own Thoughts

Uncertainty about One’s Actions and their Consequences

Uncertainty of the Sense of Self

Chapter 7

Personalities Prone to Hypochondria-Hysteria

“The Loser”



Case Vignette

The Neuroscientific perspective

Case Vignette

The neural substratum


Case Vignette

Chapter 8

The Phobia-Prone Style of Personality

Interoceptive awareness and emotional experience

Zuccarello distinguished melodist

Case vignette


The distortion of personal stability

The fear of fear

What is the origin of distorted beliefs?


Case vignettes:Specific phobia?

Spontaneous panic?

Chapter 9

The Depression-Prone Style of Personality

The margins of the problem

Enduring dispositions

The Depressive-Prone Style of Personality


Case vignette

Is depression an adaptation?

Message in a bottle