Childhood trauma in borderline personality disorder

Am J Psychiatry. 1989 Apr;146(4):490-5. doi: 10.1176/ajp.146.4.490.


Subjects with borderline personality disorder (N = 21) or borderline traits (N = 11) and nonborderline subjects with closely related diagnoses (N = 23) were interviewed in depth regarding experiences of major childhood trauma. Significantly more borderline subjects (81%) gave histories of such trauma, including physical abuse (71%), sexual abuse (68%), and witnessing serious domestic violence (62%); abuse histories were less common in those with borderline traits and least common in the subjects with no borderline diagnosis. These results demonstrate a strong association between a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and a history of abuse in childhood.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Violence*