Influence of Betrayal Trauma on Antisocial Personality Disorder Traits

Matthew M Yalch, Amber M Stewart, Ryanne M Dehart
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation 2020 July 27, : 1-13
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is linked to a number of social problems and accordingly is the focus of intensive empirical study. There is reason to believe that ASPD is influenced at least in part by exposure to trauma, but there has been minimal research on the association between trauma and ASPD traits. Specifically, research has not examined how traumatic experiences with different degrees of interpersonal betrayal differentially influence ASPD traits. This is notable in light of recent studies indicating that exposure to traumatic experiences high in betrayal (i.e., high betrayal trauma) is the primary predictor of borderline and narcissistic personality pathology. In this study, we examined the relative associations between high, medium, and low betrayal trauma and ASPD traits in a sample recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk ( N = 363) using structural equation modeling. Results confirmed a strong association between trauma and ASPD traits in general, although the influence of specific forms of trauma differed depending on both sex and how trauma was calculated (i.e., in terms of severity vs. exposure). In general, high betrayal trauma was the most consistent predictor of ASPD traits for men, whereas medium and low betrayal traumas were more consistently associated with ASPD traits for women. Study findings extend research on betrayal trauma to more malevolent forms of personality pathology. Sex differences in the influence of trauma across ASPD traits suggest the possibility of sex-specific personality responses to trauma high in betrayal, a topic that can be addressed in the future research.

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