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Difficult Personality Traits and Disorders in Oncology 

Difficult Personality Traits and Disorders in Oncology
Difficult Personality Traits and Disorders in Oncology
Psycho-Oncology (3 ed.)

John D. Wynn


This chapter focuses on how we can assess, understand, and care for cancer patients with difficult personality traits and personality disorders. A minority of cancer patients respond to crisis with self-defeating, alienating strategies that confuse and trouble clinicians. Staff may find them aggravating, aggrandizing, chaotic, dramatic, or odd. Their dysfunctional responses may foil treatment or monopolize resources. Staff may feel anger, disinterest, neglect, guilt, even hatred toward these patients or family members. Blaming or dismissing such patients may ensue, with adverse consequences for all involved. This chapter provides insight and practical information for working with these puzzling patients. DSM diagnostic categories and the hazards of diagnostic labeling are explained. A clinical system is presented to identify patients’ coping strategies. The roles of primary oncology clinicians as well as psycho-oncology consultants are considered, including necessary jargon but focusing on practical understanding and tools.

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