Personality Subtypes in Adolescent and Adult Children of Alcoholics: A Two-Part Study

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The authors conducted two studies to identify and to validate potential personality subtypes in the adolescent and adult children of alcoholics. As part of a broader NIMH-funded study, randomly selected psychologists and psychiatrists provided personality data on adolescent (n = 208) or adult (n = 349) children of alcoholics using a Q-sort procedure (Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure [SWAP]-II-A for adolescents and SWAP-II for adults), which were subjected to a cluster-analytic procedure, Q-factor analysis. Q-factor analysis yielded five personality subtypes in both groups. Despite the different samples and age groups, four of the personality subtypes were highly similar, including externalizing, inhibited, emotionally dysregulated, and high-functioning. Providing initial data on their validity, the subtypes differed on axis I and II pathology, adaptive functioning, and developmental and family history variables. These findings show heterogeneity among children of alcoholics and suggest the importance of addressing personality subtypes for research and practice in treating adolescent and adult children of alcoholics.

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