Development of Personality Disorder Symptoms and the Risk for Partner Violence

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In a community sample (N = 543) followed over 20 years, the authors studied associations among childhood family violence exposure, personality disorder (PD) symptoms, and adult partner violence. PD symptoms (DSM-III-R Clusters A, B, and C) in early adulthood partially mediated the effect of earlier childhood risks on the odds of perpetrating partner violence. The authors tested whether stability of PD symptoms from adolescence to the early 20s differs for individuals who later perpetrated partner violence. Cluster A (“Odd/Eccentric”) symptoms declined less with age among partner violent versus nonviolent men and women. Cluster B (“Dramatic/Erratic”) symptoms were more stable through late adolescence in partner violent men, compared with nonviolent men and violent women. Cluster C (“Anxious”) symptoms were most stable among partner violent men.

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