The Role of Childhood Trauma in Differences in Affective Instability in Those with Personality Disorders

Marianne Goodman, Daniel S. Weiss, Harold Koenigsberg, Vladimir Kotlyarevsky, Antonia S. New, Vivian Mitropoulou, Jeremy M. Silverman, Karen O'Flynn, Larry J. Siever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: This study examined the relationship of self-reported histories of childhood trauma to measures of affective instability in a sample of unmedicated outpatients with various personality disorders (n=174). Methods: Childhood trauma was measured by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Affective instability comprises at least two dimensions: affective lability, assessed using the Affective Lability Scale, and affective intensity, assessed using the Affective Intensity Measure. Results: A history of emotional abuse was the only trauma variable that significantly correlated with the affect measures in the total sample (r=.21-.30). More fine-grained analyses revealed that the relationship of emotional abuse and affective instability measures varied as a function of both gender and personality disorder type. In subjects with borderline personality disorder, the correlation for emotional abuse was greatly attenuated for both Affective Lability Scale (r=.10) and Affective Intensity Measure (r=.15) total scores. Conclusion: This suggests that nontrauma-related factors may be more predominant in affective dyscontrol in individuals with borderline personality disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-770
Number of pages8
JournalCNS Spectrums
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003


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