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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;42(9):1122-30.

Childhood antecedents of avoidant personality disorder: a retrospective study.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, USA.



To explore potential risk factors and early manifestations of avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) by examining retrospective reports of social functioning and adverse childhood experiences.


Early social functioning and pathological childhood experiences were assessed using the Childhood Experiences Questionnaire-Revised. The responses of 146 adults diagnosed with primary AVPD were compared with a group of 371 patients with other personality disorders as a primary diagnosis and a group of 83 patients with current major depression disorder and no personality disorders, using chi2 analyses. Diagnoses were based on semistructured interviews by trained reliable clinicians.


Adults with AVPD reported poorer child and adolescent athletic performance, less involvement in hobbies during adolescence, and less adolescent popularity than the depressed comparison group and the other personality disorder group. Reported rates of physical and emotional abuse were higher than the depressed group, but this result was influenced by comorbid diagnoses.


These results suggest that early manifestations of AVPD are present in childhood but that various forms of abuse are not specific to the disorder.

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