Personality and Psychopathology: a Theory-Based Revision of Eysenck’s PEN Model

Dirk van Kampen*
Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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© Dirk van Kampen; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Tel: +31 20 5988876; Fax: +31 20 59888758; E-mail:


The principal aim of this paper is to investigate whether it is possible to create a personality taxonomy of clinical relevance out of Eysenck’s original PEN model by repairing the various shortcomings that can be noted in Eysenck’s personality theory, particularly in relation to P or Psychoticism. Addressing three approaches that have been followed to answer the question ‘which personality factors are basic?’, arguments are listed to show that particularly the theory-informed approach, originally defended by Eysenck, may lead to scientific progress. However, also noting the many deficiencies in the nomological network surrounding P, the peculiar situation arises that we adhere to Eysenck’s theory-informed methodology, but criticize his theory. These arguments and criticisms led to the replacement of P by three orthogonal and theory-based factors, Insensitivity (S), Orderliness (G), and Absorption (A), that together with the dimensions E or Extraversion and N or Neuroticism, that were retained from Eysenck’s PEN model, appear to give a comprehensive account of the main vulnerability factors in schizophrenia and affective disorders, as well as in other psychopathological conditions.