Childhood neglect and the development of self-injury in Axis II pathology

Kelly Bair Decker, Fordham University


Background: Previous findings suggest that childhood neglect is associated with the development of self-injury in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Van der Kolk and colleagues (1991) found that childhood abuse contributed heavily to the initiation of self-destructive behavior in BPD while childhood neglect maintained self-destructive behavior over time. Dubo and colleagues (1997) found that while abuse was a stronger predictor of suicidal behavior in BPD, emotional neglect was a stronger predictor of self-injury. However, it remains unclear why some indiviudal with Axis II pathology self-injure and others abstain. Method: 233 adults seeking outpatient psychiatric treatment were enrolled in the study. Participants were deemed eligible if they were over the age of 21, English speaking, and met criteria for an Axis I mood disorder and/or an Axis II personality disorder. Results: After controlling for Axis II pathology, neglect was associated with suicidal gestures; physical neglect was associated with a history of at least one suicide attempt, and emotional neglect did not uniquely contribute to the presence of self-injury. Conclusions: Participants with BPD are more likely to engage in self-injury compared to adults with other personality disorders as well as adults without Axis II pathology, regardless of whether they have a history of neglect.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Decker, Kelly Bair, "Childhood neglect and the development of self-injury in Axis II pathology" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3588349.