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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009 Feb;11(1):63-8.

Borderline personality disorder and childhood trauma: evidence for a causal relationship.

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  • 1Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Suicide Studies Unit, St. Michael's Hospital, Shuter Wing, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W8, Canada.


The debate over whether childhood trauma is a causative factor in the development of borderline personality disorder continues in the literature despite decades of research. This review examines this body of literature published from 1995 through 2007 to assess the strength of evidence for such a causal relationship. A unique conceptual approach was used, as we considered the literature in the context of Hill's classic criteria for demonstrating causation. Results of this review suggest that evidence supports the causal relationship, particularly if the relationship is considered as part of a multifactorial etiologic model. Directions for future research and clinical implications are discussed.

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