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Depress Res Treat. 2011;2011:529638. doi: 10.1155/2011/529638. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Bipolar Disorder and the TCI: Higher Self-Transcendence in Bipolar Disorder Compared to Major Depression.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch Mail Centre, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.


Personality traits are potential endophenotypes for genetic studies of psychiatric disorders. One personality theory which demonstrates strong heritability is Cloninger's psychobiological model measured using the temperament and character inventory (TCI). 277 individuals who completed the TCI questionnaire as part of the South Island Bipolar Study were also interviewed to assess for lifetime psychiatric diagnoses. Four groups were compared, bipolar disorder (BP), type 1 and 2, MDD (major depressive disorder), and nonaffected relatives of a proband with BP. With correction for mood state, total harm avoidance (HA) was higher than unaffected in both MDD and BP groups, but the mood disorder groups did not differ from each other. However, BP1 individuals had higher self-transcendence (ST) than those with MDD and unaffected relatives. HA may reflect a trait marker of mood disorders whereas high ST may be specific to BP. As ST is heritable, genes that affect ST may be of relevance for vulnerability to BP.

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