Sexual Health
Laboratory

Sophie Bergeron  Ph.D

SCOUP News

Did you know that gender affects how parental maltreatment in childhood contributes to the development of borderline personality-related symptoms?

A recent study conducted by Natacha Godbout and Marie-Ève Daspe, members of the SCOUP team, in collaboration with the University of Victoria, examined childhood maltreatment caused by father and mother figures, and the presence of insecure attachment (fear of abandonment and avoidance of intimacy) as they predict symptoms related to borderline personality (BPRS).

We worked with 954 adult participants who completed surveys regarding parental maltreatment during childhood, attachment security, and trauma-related symptoms

What were the results?

We found differences in how maltreatment caused by the father or mother figure affect men and women. Both sources of maltreatment were directly associated with BPRS in women, whereas in men, only maltreatment from the father figure was directly related to BPRS. In women, maltreatment from the father figure was indirectly associated with BPRS for women who display fear of abandonment but not for those who display avoidance of intimacy. In men, maltreatment from the mother figure was indirectly associated with BPRS for those who display fear of abandonment but not for those who display avoidance of intimacy.

Our findings suggest that father-to-daughter and mother-to-son maltreatment are predictors of symptoms related to borderline personality, through the development of insecure attachment. These results highlight the importance of providing therapeutic interventions that are trauma- and attachment-focused, as well as gender-sensitive, for patients suffering from borderline symptoms.

If you would like to know more about this study, we invite you to read the full paper:

Godbout, N., Daspe, M.-E., Runtz, M., Cyr, G., et Briere, J. (2019). Childhood maltreatment, attachment, and borderline personality-related symptoms: Gender-specific structural equation models. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(1), 90-98. Open access: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000403

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