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Browsing by Author "Aaltonen, Mira"

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  • Aaltonen, Mira (2017)
    Traumatic childhood experiences predispose psychiatric symptoms in adulthood. Sexually abused children have more behavioral problems, depressive symptoms, feel more shame and have lower self-esteems compared to other children. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by fear of abandonment, aggression towards self and others, difficulty of controlling feelings and behavior, instability of identity and self-destructive behavior, and these traits could hypothetically stem from shameful and traumatic childhood experiences. BPD has a relatively strong genetic component, but the specific etiological factors are still unclear. In this review, the aim is to see whether there is a connection between child sexual abuse and BPD, how specific forms of abuse correlate with BPD and ultimately, to show whether child sexual abuse is a relevant factor in the etiology of BPD. Studies show that childhood sexual abuse was significantly common in the histories of people with BPD. People suffering from BPD had experienced childhood sexual abuse more often than people with depression, schizophrenia or healthy controls had. However, there was no difference in the prevalence of sexual abuse between BPD and other personality disorders. In these studies, there was no difference in the familiarity of the perpetrator, but on average people with BPD had experienced sexual abuse slightly earlier in childhood. Reliable conclusions could not be made about duration, frequency, seeking help, nature of abuse or use of force due to scarcity and narrow focus of previous research on the subject. The results presented in this review suggest that childhood sexual abuse does not play a part in the development of BPD as an independent causative factor. However, the lack of uniform usage of the term ”sexual abuse” and the interrelatedness of sexual abuse, other forms of abuse and family environmental factors all pose challenges for interpreting the results. The observed connection between BPD and childhood sexual abuse could be explained by the cumulative problems associated with underprivileged families, which can result in neglect and thus being more vulnerable to abuse. Additional longitudinal and meta-analytical research is needed to clarify the connections.