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Am J Psychiatry. 1991 Oct;148(10):1378-85.

Affective and impulsive personality disorder traits in the relatives of patients with borderline personality disorder.

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Psychiatry Service, Bronx VA Medical Center, NY 10468.



This study tested the hypothesis that the risk for affective and impulsive personality disorder traits commonly found in patients with borderline personality disorder would be greater in the first-degree relatives of probands with borderline personality disorder than in two comparison groups.


Blind family history interviews were conducted with family informants to assess the extent to which first-degree relatives of 29 probands with borderline personality disorder, 22 probands with other personality disorders who met three or fewer of the criteria for borderline personality disorder, and 43 probands with schizophrenia fulfilled operationalized criteria for the two kinds of personality disorder traits and for other diagnostic categories. The crude proportions of adult relatives with each diagnosis, as well as the age-adjusted morbid risks, were assessed in the three groups of relatives.


The risks for affective and impulsive personality disorder traits were independently greater in the 129 relatives of the borderline probands than in the 105 relatives of the probands with other personality disorders and the 218 relatives of the schizophrenic probands. There was no similarly greater risk for any other psychiatric disorder assessed, including major affective disorder. In addition, the relatives of borderline probands with current or past major depressive disorder showed a greater risk for major affective disorders than the relatives of never-depressed probands with other personality disorders but not the relatives of never-depressed borderline probands.


These results suggest familial transmission of the hallmark borderline-related personality characteristics and raise the possibility that these familial traits may be partially independent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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