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Commentary |

Childhood Victimization and the Development of Personality Disorders:  Unanswered Questions Remain

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999;56(7):607-608. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.7.607.
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IN THIS issue of the ARCHIVES, Johnson et al1 present the findings of a longitudinal study demonstrating that abused and neglected children are more likely than nonvictims to develop personality disorders in young adulthood. This article has many strengths: a prospective longitudinal design, a representative community sample, a definition of childhood abuse and neglect based on documented cases, a comprehensive assessment of personality disorders, and statistical controls for age, gender, childhood temperament, and parental psychopathology. The authors' finding that childhood maltreatment is associated with increased risk for personality disorders in young adulthood is particularly impressive, given the relatively small number of documented cases of child maltreatment (31 of a total sample of 639) and even smaller numbers of cases of specific types of abuse and neglect (for example, there were 4 documented cases of sexual abuse).

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