Self-defeating personality disorder
|Cluster A (odd)|
|Cluster B (dramatic)|
|Cluster C (anxious)|
Self-defeating personality disorder (also known as masochistic personality disorder) is a proposed personality disorder. It was discussed in an appendix of the manual's revised third edition (DSM-III-R) in 1987, but was never formally admitted into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). As an alternative, the diagnosis personality disorder not otherwise specified may be used instead. Some researchers and theorists continue to use its criteria. It has an official code number, 301.90.
Proposed DSM III-R 
Self-defeating personality disorder is:
- A) A pervasive pattern of self-defeating behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which he or she will suffer, and prevent others from helping him, as indicated by at least five of the following:
- chooses people and situations that lead to disappointment, failure, or mistreatment even when better options are clearly available
- rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help him or her
- following positive personal events (e.g., new achievement), responds with depression, guilt, or a behavior that produces pain (e.g., an accident)
- incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated (e.g., makes fun of spouse in public, provoking an angry retort, then feels devastated)
- rejects opportunities for pleasure, or is reluctant to acknowledge enjoying himself or herself (despite having adequate social skills and the capacity for pleasure)
- fails to accomplish tasks crucial to his or her personal objectives despite demonstrated ability to do so, e.g., helps fellow students write papers, but is unable to write his or her own
- is uninterested in or rejects people who consistently treat him or her well, e.g., is unattracted to caring sexual partners
- engages in excessive self-sacrifice that is unsolicited by the intended recipients of the sacrifice
- B) The behaviors in A do not occur exclusively in response to, or in anticipation of, being physically, sexually, or psychologically abused.
- C) The behaviors in A do not occur only when the person is depressed.
Exclusion from DSM-IV 
Historically, masochism has been associated with feminine submissiveness. This disorder became politically controversial when associated with domestic violence which was considered to be mostly caused by males. However a number of studies suggest that the disorder is common. In spite of its exclusion from DSM-IV in 1994, it continues to enjoy widespread currency amongst clinicians as a construct that explains a great many facets of human behaviour.
Sexual masochism that "causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning" is still in DSM-IV.
Millon's subtypes 
|Virtuous||Including histrionic features||Proudly unselfish, self-denying, and self-sacrificial; self-ascetic; weighty burdens are judged noble, righteous, and saintly; others must recognize loyalty and faithfulness; gratitude and appreciation expected for altruism and forbearance.|
|Possessive||Including negativistic features||Bewitches and ensnares by becoming jealous, overprotective, and indispensable; entraps, takes control, conquers, enslaves, and dominates others by being sacrificial to a fault; control by obligatory dependence.|
|Self-undoing||Including avoidant features||Is “wrecked by success”; experiences “victory through defeat”; gratified by personal misfortunes, failures, humiliations, and ordeals; eschews best interests; chooses to be victimized, ruined, disgraced.|
|Oppressed||Including depressive features||Experiences genuine misery, despair, hardship, anguish, torment, illness; grievances used to create guilt in others; resentments vented by exempting from responsibilities and burdening “oppressors.”|
See also 
- Sadism and masochism
- Sadistic personality disorder
- Setting oneself up to fail
- Tavris, Carol (1993). "Misdiagnosing the Mind". The mismeasure of woman. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 181. ISBN 0-671-79749-2.
- Millon, Theodore, Personality Disorders in Modern Life, 2004
- Kass, F Self-defeating personality disorder: an empirical study (1987)
- Reich, J Prevalence of DSM-III-R self defeating (masochistic) personality disorder in normal and outpatient populations Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 175, 52-54 (1987)
- Millon, Theodore - Personality Subtypes