Consecutive admissions of 214 women with borderline personality disorder were investigated for patterns of specific forms of self-harm and reported developmental experiences. Systematic examination of clinical notes found that 75% had previously reported a history of childhood sexual abuse. These women were more likely to self-harm, and in specific ways that may reflect their past experiences. Despite this, treatment within a dialectical behaviour therapy-informed therapeutic community leads to relatively greater clinical gains than for those without a reported sexual abuse trauma history. Notably, greater behavioural and self-reported distress and dissociation were not found to predict poor clinical outcome.
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