The personality sequelae of child maltreatment in drug and alcohol dependent male veterans

Joseph Stephen Ruggiero, Fordham University


The current study examined the relationship between several types of child maltreatment (sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect) and later personality difficulties in 200 male veterans seeking treatment for alcohol or drugs. Drug abusers and alcoholics often have histories of abuse or neglect (e.g., Edwall et al., 1989); these histories may help to explain the types of personality difficulties frequently seen in substance abusing individuals (e.g., Antisocial behavior) (Khantzian & Treece, 1985). Hypothesized relationships between child maltreatment and personality sequelae for the current study were based on previous research and attachment theory was used as a framework to organize past empirical findings and as a model for understanding different sequelae of maltreatment. Past studies (e.g., Briere & Runtz, 1988) suggest that several types of maltreatment may co-exist and it might be inaccurate to consider the consequences of different types of maltreatment in isolation. Therefore, a cluster analysis grouped subjects who share similar profiles of the four types of maltreatment. In the present study, six distinct maltreatment clusters emerged: Minimal Abuse and Neglect (Cluster A), Moderate Abuse and Neglect (Cluster B), Moderate Emotional Neglect (Cluster C), Severe Sexual Abuse (Cluster D), Mild Abuse and Neglect (Cluster E), and Severe Physical and Emotional Abuse (Cluster F). Several analyses were done: Pearson and point-biserial correlations, ANOVA and chi square comparisons of personality sequelae among the clusters, multiple regressions, and discriminant analyses. Childhood sexual abuse was related to perceptual aberration, depression, and Schizoid Personality Disorder. Physical and emotional abuse was associated with most of the personality sequelae studied in the current research. Physical and emotional abuse was related to dissociation, depression, anger and assaultiveness, risk-taking, suicidal behavior, suspiciousness, and the Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Childhood and Adult Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders. Physical neglect was associated with Schizoid Personality Disorder and emotional neglect was related to Avoidant Personality Disorder. Theoretical and clinical implications of the reported findings are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Criminology|Social psychology|Personality

Recommended Citation

Ruggiero, Joseph Stephen, "The personality sequelae of child maltreatment in drug and alcohol dependent male veterans" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9542377.