JOURNAL ARTICLE

Trauma, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress disorder in female borderline patients with and without substance abuse problems

Louisa M C Van Den Bosch, Roel Verheul, Willie Langeland, Wim Van Den Brink
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2003, 37 (5): 549-55
14511082

OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations of childhood traumatic experiences and childhood neglect with dissociative experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a population of female borderline personality disorder (BPD) patients with and without substance abuse.

METHOD: The sample included 64 female patients with BPD. Childhood traumatic experiences and childhood neglect were measured using the Structured Trauma Interview, dissociative experiences with the Dissociative Experiences Scale, and PTSD with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV.

RESULTS: In general, dissociation scores were higher among those with a history of childhood trauma and neglect, in particular among those who reported both sexual and physical abuse before age 16, more than one perpetrator and severe maternal dysfunction. The prevalence of PTSD was clearly associated with the severity of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) in terms of the occurrence of penetration during CSA, intrafamilial CSA, a duration of CSA longer than 1 year and more than one perpetrator. Comorbid substance abuse problems modified the observed associations such that the associations mentioned above were also present or even more pronounced among those without substance abuse, whereas no associations were found in those with substance abuse.

CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest a moderately strong association between childhood trauma and neglect with dissociation and PTSD. However, trauma-dissociation and trauma-PTSD links were only observed among BPD patients without addictive problems. The findings are largely consistent with the literature. Potential explanations for the lack of a trauma-dissociation and trauma-PTSD link in the addicted subgroup are discussed.

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