Personality disorders, history of trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder in subjects with anxiety disorders

Compr Psychiatry. 2000 Sep-Oct;41(5):315-25. doi: 10.1053/comp.2000.9007.


The purpose of the study was to examine the association of personality disorders, history of trauma, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a large sample of subjects with anxiety disorders. Categorical and continuous indices of personality disorders were compared in three groups from the Harvard/Brown Anxiety Disorders Research Project (HARP): subjects with no history of trauma (n = 403), subjects with a history of trauma but no history of PTSD (n = 151), and subjects with a current or past diagnosis of PTSD (n = 68). Subjects with PTSD were more likely to meet criteria for borderline or self-defeating personality disorder than subjects in the other two groups. PTSD subjects also had higher scores on the continuous measures (total number of criteria met) for borderline and self-defeating personality disorder than the other two groups. The findings suggest that a diagnosis of PTSD rather than a history of trauma is associated with borderline and self-defeating personality disorder features. Alternative conceptualizations of axis II features in individuals with PTSD are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Personality Disorders / etiology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*