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How Do Different Types of Childhood Maltreatment Relate to Adult Personality Pathology?

Cohen, Lisa J. PhD*; Foster, Michelle MA; Nesci, Cristina MA; Tanis, Thachell BA*; Halmi, Winter MA; Galynker, Igor MD, PhD*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2013 - Volume 201 - Issue 3 - p 234–243
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182848ac4
Original Articles

There are insufficient data investigating the relative associations between different kinds of childhood maltreatment and the severity of adult personality pathology. Personality pathology and childhood maltreatment (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and neglect) were assessed in 156 nonpsychotic psychiatric patients. Measures included the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire for DSM-IV (PDQ-4+), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), the Multidimensional Neglectful Behavior Scale (MNBS), and the Conflict Tactics Scales Parent-Child version (CTSPC-CA). Bivariate logistic regression analyses revealed each maltreatment type to significantly correlate with adult personality pathology. However, in multivariate logistic analyses controlling for education, neglect and emotional abuse were the only significant predictors of adult personality pathology (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for MNBS neglect, 3.60; AOR for CTQ emotional abuse, 3.81). Analysis of the CTSPC-CA yielded a strong effect on maternal (AOR, 3.71) but not paternal neglect. These data suggest that clinicians should routinely evaluate for histories of neglect and emotional abuse, particularly in patients with marked personality pathology.

*Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center; †New School University; and ‡Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY.

Send reprint requests to Lisa J. Cohen, PhD, Beth Israel Medical Center, 1st Ave & 16th St, New York, NY 10003. E-mail:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.