Does childhood trauma cause personality disorders in adults?

Can J Psychiatry. 1998 Mar;43(2):148-53. doi: 10.1177/070674379804300203.


Objective: To examine the relationship between trauma in childhood and personality disorders in adulthood.

Method: A review of the literature was conducted.

Results: The reported associations between trauma and personality pathology are illuminated by the following research findings: 1) personality is heritable; 2) only a minority of patients with severe personality disorders report childhood trauma; and 3) children are generally resilient, and traumatic experiences do not consistently lead to psychopathology.

Conclusions: The role of trauma in the personality disorders is best understood in the context of gene-environment interactions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / etiology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Family Health
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Personality / genetics
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Disorders / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies