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J Pers Disord. 1997 Spring;11(1):34-49.

Childhood trauma as an etiological factor in the personality disorders.

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  • Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


This article critically reviews the problems concerning the relationship between traumatic events in childhood and personality disorders in adulthood. Attributing adult psychopathology primarily to environmental factors is problematic. Personality traits are heritable. Children are resilient to the long-term effects of trauma. All studies of trauma in personality disordered patients suffer from retrospective designs. Only a minority of patients with severe personality disorders report severe childhood trauma. The effects of trauma in the personality disorders can be better understood in the context of gene-environment interactions.

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