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J Abnorm Psychol. 2012 Aug;121(3):692-8. doi: 10.1037/a0028994. Epub 2012 Jun 25.

Borderline but not antisocial personality disorder symptoms are related to self-reported partner aggression in late middle-age.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899, USA.


We examined the relationship between personality pathology and the frequency of self-reported psychological and physical partner aggression in a community sample of 872 adults aged 55-64. Previous research suggests that antisocial and borderline personality disorder (PD) symptoms are associated with partner aggression. Controlling for gender, education, alcohol dependence, and other personality pathology, we found that borderline PD symptoms, which include abandonment fears, unstable identity, and affective instability, were significantly related to the frequency of self-reported aggression toward one's partner. This relationship was observed regardless of whether the participant's personality was described by a clinical interviewer, the participant themselves, or an informant chosen by the participant. Further, the relationship between borderline PD symptoms and self-reported partner aggression was moderated by gender such that women were driving the association. Conversely, antisocial PD symptoms, which include deceitfulness, irresponsibility, disregard for rules, and lack of remorse did not significantly account for variance in self-reported partner aggression.

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