Gender Differences in the Relationship between Lifetime Exposure to Trauma and the Development of Pathological Personality Traits

J Trauma Dissociation. 2024 May-Jun;25(3):394-407. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2024.2320436. Epub 2024 Feb 20.


Gender differences in the prevalence, types and outcomes of traumas have consistently been reported in the literature. Other research has documented that exposure to trauma is associated with the development and maintenance of pathological personality traits. In the current study, we examined the moderating role of gender in the association between lifetime exposure to trauma and pathological personality traits. The sample included 148 clients who sought treatment at a community mental health clinic. All participants completed online questionnaires including demographic information, the Trauma History Questionnaire (THQ), and the Personality Inventory for DSM-5-Brief Form (PID-5-BF) at the entry to treatment. Our findings documented a significant association between exposure to trauma and pathological personality traits in men, but not in women. Furthermore, this pattern of results was specifically evident within two personality domains: antagonism and detachment. These findings contribute to the theoretical understanding of the interplay between trauma, gender, and the development of pathological personality traits. They expand upon the growing knowledge about the mental health crisis among boys and men by shedding light on the unique vulnerabilities that men face in response to traumatic experiences and how these experiences can have a lasting impact on their adaptive functioning. Consequently, at the clinical level, the current study emphasizes the importance of paying particular attention to men's trauma histories and explicitly exploring these during the intake session.

Keywords: Trauma; gender differences; men crises; pathological personality traits.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders* / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires