Early family environments and traumatic experiences associated with borderline personality disorder

  • Weaver T
  • Clum G
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Childhood trauma experiences (e.g., sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessed violence, and early separation experiences) and family environment characteristics were assessed with a questionnaire from a sample of depressed female inpatients; 17 were diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder (BPD), and 19 received no such diagnosis (NBPD). Significantly more BPD individuals than NBPD individuals reported histories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and witnessed violence. Of these trauma variables, sexual abuse emerged as the only significant predictor of dimensional BPD score, even after physical abuse, subjective depression score, diagnostic differences between groups, and family environment were controlled. Early separation experiences were nonsignificantly different between groups. Although the BPD families were reported to be distinctive for several different family environment characteristics, the control dimension significantly predicted dimensional borderline score even after sexual abuse was controlled. These results suggest that sexual abuse and general family environment need further study for a fuller understanding of BPD symptomatology.

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  • T. L. Weaver

  • G. A. Clum

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