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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Organic Personality Disorder

Q. I am working with an individual who has an old diagnosis of "Organic Personality Disorder" as a result of brain injury at the age of 14. Can you tell me what is the current DSM code/diagnosis for this?

A. In DSM-III-R, the term "Organic Personality Disorder" was used. In DSM-IV, the more cumbersome term, "Personality Change Due to a General Medical Condition" is used, which is coded as 310.1. This is defined as "a persistent personality disturbance that is judged to be due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition. The personality disturbance represents a change from the individual's previous characteristic personality pattern." (p. 171, DSM-IV).

Examples would include personality alteration due to frontal lobe damage; systemic lupus erythematosis; Huntington's Disease, and many other medical/neurological conditions. The DSM-IV goes on to define several subtypes, such as a "labile, disinhibited, aggressive, apathetic, paranoid", etc.

Anyone who has been given this diagnosis should have undergone a careful search for contributing factors, both organic and psychological in nature.

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April 2003

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