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Compr Psychiatry. 1989 Jan-Feb;30(1):18-25.

Childhood experiences of borderline patients.

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Psychosocial Research Program, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02178.


The childhood histories of 50 outpatients meeting both Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines (DIB) and DSM-III criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder, 29 outpatients meeting DSM-III criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, and 26 outpatients meeting DSM-III for Dysthymic Disorder as well as DSM-III criteria for some other type of Axis II disorder were assessed, blind to proband diagnosis, using a semistructured interview. Borderlines were significantly more likely than those in either control group to report a history of abuse, particularly verbal and sexual abuse. They were also significantly more likely than antisocial controls to report a history of neglect, particularly emotional withdrawal, and significantly more likely than dysthymic other personality disorder controls to report a history of early separation experiences. The authors conclude that the development of Borderline Personality Disorder is more strongly associated with (1) exposure to chronically disturbed caretakers than prolonged separations from these same adults and (2) a history of abuse than a history of neglect.

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