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J Pers Disord. 2002 Oct;16(5):424-36.

Dependency, impulsivity, and self-harm: traits hypothesized to underlie the association between cluster B personality and substance use disorders.

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Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, E11 Seashore Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


Cluster B personality disorders (PDs) (i.e., antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic) typically show a high degree of comorbidity with substance use disorders (SUDs). Previous research suggests that the broad-based personality domains of Disinhibition and Negative Temperament/Neuroticism may be common factors to both types of disorders. Using a two-phase process (i.e., screening and follow-up), this study examined three lower-order personality traits (i.e., dependency, impulsivity, and self-harm) that fall within the Disinhibition and Neuroticism domains. The study evaluated the hypotheses that these traits (a) are related both to cluster B PDs and to SUDs; and (b) underlie the association between the two types of disorders. Results indicate that impulsivity and self-harm play a significant role in cluster B PDs and SUDs, as well as in their association with each other. However, dependency was not associated with either type of disorder. These results indicate that sets of individual traits can be of significant utility in understanding the comorbidity between PDs and SUDs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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