The association between trauma and personality disorders (PDs), while receiving much attention and debate, has not been comprehensively examined for multiple types of trauma and PDs. The authors examined data from a multisite study of four PD groups: schizotypal, borderline (BPD), avoidant, and obsessive-compulsive, and a major depression comparison group. Rates of traumatic exposure to specific types of trauma, age of first trauma onset, and rates of posttraumatic stress disorder are compared. Results indicate that BPD participants reported the highest rate of traumatic exposure (particularly to sexual traumas, including childhood sexual abuse), the highest rate of posttraumatic stress disorder, and youngest age of first traumatic event. Those with the more severe PDs (schizotypal, BPD) reported more types of traumatic exposure and higher rates of being physically attacked (childhood and adult) when compared to other groups. These results suggest a specific relationship between BPD and sexual trauma (childhood and adult) that does not exist among other PDs. In addition, they support an association between severity of PD and severity of traumatic exposure, as indicated by earlier trauma onset, trauma of an assaultive and personal nature, and more types of traumatic events.
1 Department of Psychiatry, Brown University Medical School, 700 Butler Drive, Providence, RI 02906. Send reprint requests to Dr. Yen.
2 New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University, New York, New York.
3 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
4 McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, Massachusetts.
This work was funded by National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Award sites are Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (MH50837), Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute (MH50839), Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital (MH50840), Texas A & M University (MH50838), Vanderbilt University (MH50838), and Yale University School of Medicine (MH50850). Principal investigators are John G. Gunderson, Thomas H. McGlashan, Leslie C. Morey (formerly at Vanderbilt University; now at Texas A&M University), M. Tracie Shea, and Andrew E. Skodol. This work was further supported by NIMH K05 1654 (Dr. McGlashan). This manuscript has been reviewed and approved by the Publications Committee of the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study.
This article was written while Dr. Dolan-Sewell was a faculty member at Brown University. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NIMH, NIH, DHHS, or the federal government.