CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE SYMPTOMS


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Abstract

Childhood trauma is known to predispose to a variety of psychiatric disorders, including mood, anxiety, eating, and personality disorders. However, the relationship between childhood trauma and obsessive-compulsive symptoms has not been well studied. This study examines the relationship between childhood trauma, personality facets, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in 938 college students using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, the Leyton Obsessional Inventory, and the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised. Between 13 and 30% of subjects met criteria for childhood trauma, with emotional neglect the most commonly reported experience. There was a small but significant association between obsessive-compulsive symptoms and childhood trauma, specifically emotional abuse and physical neglect, all of which was accounted for by cooccurring anxiety symptoms. An independent association was also seen between emotional abuse, physical abuse, and high levels of obsessive-compulsive symptoms (“probable obsessive-compulsive disorder”), which remained significant in the context of co-occurring anxiety symptoms. A similar association was seen between obsessive-compulsive symptoms and conscientiousness, and between emotional neglect and sexual abuse and conscientiousness, suggesting that an indirect role for childhood trauma in the development of obsessive-compulsive symptoms may also exist.

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