Sir: There is indeed no English equivalent word to describe ‘haltlose’ personalities ( Cullivan, 1998). The word indicates a drifting, aimless and irresponsible lifestyle: a translation might be ‘lacking a hold’ (on life or onto the self).
This personality has, in English-speaking countries, been described as “the unstable psychopath” ( Slater & Roth, 1979). Schneider ( 1992) used the descriptor “Willenlose Psychopathen”, indicating the absence of intent or rather a ‘lack of will’. People with chronic alcohol dependency have been said, not uncommonly, to have haltlose personality disorder.
Those with haltlose personality disorder have features of frontal lobe syndrome, sociopathic and histrionic personality traits.
He or she lacks concentration and persistence and lives in the present only. His or her immediate affects, moods and interests rule completely; he or she has no interest in the future, and no hold in the past: in this sense he or she is quite at mercy of the environment. He or she is certainly easily persuaded, and is often led astray by the surrounding persons, sometimes criminals.
He or she mixes well with sociopaths as he or she also has an inability to learn from experience, and no sincere sense of remorse for his or her actions.
In common with the histrionic personality he or she has a number of endearing qualities: charming with an apparent emotional warmth, but also an enhanced suggestibility and a superficiality of affect. He or she is usually overoptimistic and pleasant to be with. This makes him or her quite a likeable character, the ‘lovable rogue’ which we sometimes see in our substance misuse clinic.
- © 2000 Royal College of Psychiatrists