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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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102. The intergenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment: Non-specificity of maltreatment type and associations with borderline personality pathology.

One generation’s experience of childhood maltreatment is associated with that of the next. However, whether this intergenerational transmission is specific to distinct forms of maltreatment and what factors may contribute to its continuity remains unclear. Borderline personality pathology is predicted by childhood maltreatment and characterized by features (e.g., dysregulated emotion, relationship instability, impulsivity, inconsistent appraisals of others) that may contribute to its propagation. Among 364 older adults and 573 of their adult children (total n=937), self-reported exposure to distinct forms of childhood maltreatment (i.e., emotional, physical and sexual abuse and emotional and physical neglect as assessed by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire) showed homotypic and heterotypic associations across generations with little evidence that latent factors unique to specific forms of maltreatment show generational continuity. General non-specific indices of childhood maltreatment showed evidence of intergenerational transmission after accounting for demographic factors and parent socioeconomic status (b = 0.126, p = 9.21x10-4). This continuity was partially mediated by parental borderline personality pathology (assessed longitudinally through a variety of measures and sources, indirect effect: b = 0.031 [95% CI 0.003, 0.060]. The intergenerational continuity of childhood maltreatment may largely represent general risk for non-specific maltreatment that may, in part, be propagated by borderline personality pathology and/or shared risk factors.

Sarah Paul
Washington University in St. Louis

Michael Boudreaux
Washington University in St. Louis

Erin Bondy
Washington University in St. Louis

Jennifer Tackett
Northwestern University

Thomas Oltmanns
Washington University in St. Louis

Ryan Bogdan
Washington University in St. Louis


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