Background. The ‘odd’ or ‘Cluster A’ personality disorders (PDs) – paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal PDs – were created in DSM-III with little empirical foundation. We have examined the relationship between the genetic and environmental risk factors for dimensional representations of these three personality disorders.
Method. These personality disorders were assessed using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality (SIDP-IV) in 1386 young adult twin pairs from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health Twin Panel. Using Mx, a single-factor independent pathway twin model was fitted to the number of endorsed criteria for the three disorders.
Results. The best-fit model included genetic and unique environmental common factors and genetic and unique environmental effects specific to each personality disorder. Total heritability was modest for these personality disorders and ranged from 21% to 28%. Loadings on the common genetic and unique environmental factors were substantially higher for schizotypal than for paranoid or schizoid PD. The proportion of genetic liability shared with all Cluster A disorders was estimated at 100, 43 and 26% respectively for schizotypal, paranoid and schizoid PDs.
Conclusion. In support of the validity of the Cluster A construct, dimensional representations of schizotypal, paranoid and schizoid PD are all modestly heritable and share a portion of their genetic and environmental risk factors. No evidence was found for shared environmental or sex effects for these PDs. Schizotypal PD most closely reflects the genetic and environmental liability common to all three Cluster A disorders. These results should be interpreted in the context of the limited power of this sample.
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