President's message

Dear ISSPD Members and Friends,

     We live in interesting times!  Our world is seemingly more complicated than ever, and mental health issues permeate lives on a daily news.  Even outside of the newsworthy events, mental health issues are being discussed more frequently in every day life.  Fortunately, the value of mental health care is being recognized without the stigma to which it was once attached.

     Every individual has a personality, which operates a particular level of adaptability.  A number of theories of psychopathology and human functioning place personality at the heart of the person’s functioning.  For nearly 40 years, it has been the aim of the ISSPD to promote the scientific study of personality and its disorders and pathology.  As a society, we are interested in classification, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of personality disorders.  However, what exactly constitutes a personality disorder has been evolving now for a number of years, which tells us that the work of our society is much needed.  The demand for a scientifically-informed diagnostic system and treatments has benefited professionals and patients alike, yet it has also stirred up considerable controversy at times.  Change requires a willingness to see things anew, though change for change’s sake runs the risk of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”.  To avoid schisms, this means we must work together and avoid the allure of disparaging those who do not see things the way we do.  It means listening to (and reading) each other’s ideas.  It means valuing the input of the seasoned clinician while simultaneously considering the evidence base and the methods from which they were derived.  This can be hard work, but it is crucial for our field to remain relevant in professional psychiatry and psychology.

     As the ISSPD Presidency now transitions into my hands, it is my distinct honor to “steer the ship” and help move the field into a greater place of relevancy in clinical science and practice.  We owe this to the patients we treat.  Our scientific disciplines need to hear from us in ways that are unified and relevant, not in ways that splinter our field to the point that its focus may be unrecognizable.  As President, my chief aim will be to increase our relevancy by increasing membership, inviting colleagues of disparate points of view into dialogue, and to foster cross-collaboration.  I also hope that our work can produce a number of initiatives that stress the importance of personality and its pathology to our respective professions, while at the same time making even clearer the need to detect personality pathology early on, and in settings other than mental health care providers’ offices, such as primary care clinics.

     As I wrote earlier, we live in interesting times. Personality and its pathology are relevant to understanding the human condition and the problems that people face. I hope you will share in this exciting work so that we might improve the lives of those who we treat.

Steven Huprich

President, ISSPD