Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Impact of dysfunctional maternal personality traits on risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years: a population-based longitudinal study

  • R. M. Pearson (a1), A. Campbell (a1), L. M. Howard (a2), M. H. Bornstein (a3), H. O'Mahen (a4), B. Mars (a1) and P. Moran (a1)...
Abstract
Background

The impact of underlying parental psychological vulnerability on the future mental health of offspring is not fully understood. Using a prospective cohort design, we investigated the association between dysfunctional parental personality traits and risks of offspring self-harm, depression and anxiety.

Methods

The association between dysfunctional parental personality traits (monotony avoidance, impulsivity, anger, suspicion, and detachment), measured in both mothers and fathers when offspring were age 9 years, and risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years, was investigated in a population-based cohort (ALSPAC) from over 8000 parents and children.

Results

Higher levels of dysfunctional maternal, but not paternal, personality traits were associated with an increased risk of self-harm, depression, and anxiety in offspring. Maternal associations were best explained by the accumulation of dysfunctional traits. Associations were strongest for offspring depression: Offspring of mothers with three or more dysfunctional personality traits were 2.27 (1.45–3.54, p < 0.001) times as likely to be depressed, compared with offspring of mothers with no dysfunctional personality traits, independently of maternal depression and other variables.

Conclusions

The accumulation of dysfunctional maternal personality traits is associated with the risk of self-harm, depression, anxiety in offspring independently of maternal depression and other confounding variables. The absence of associations for equivalent paternal traits makes a genetic explanation for the findings unlikely. Further research is required to elucidate the underlying mechanism. Mothers with high levels of dysfunctional personality traits may benefit from additional support to reduce the risk of adverse psychological outcomes occurring in their offspring.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Impact of dysfunctional maternal personality traits on risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years: a population-based longitudinal study
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Impact of dysfunctional maternal personality traits on risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years: a population-based longitudinal study
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Impact of dysfunctional maternal personality traits on risk of offspring depression, anxiety and self-harm at age 18 years: a population-based longitudinal study
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: R. M. Pearson, Ph.D., Centre for Academic Mental Health, School of Social and Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK. (Email: Rebecca.pearson@bristol.ac.uk)
References
Hide All
JR Abela , SA Skitch , RP Auerbach , P Adams (2005). The impact of parental borderline personality disorder on vulnerability to depression in children of affectively ill parents. Journal of Personality Disorders 19, 6883.

TZ Baram , EP Davis , A Obenaus , CA Sandman , SL Small , A Solodkin , H Stern (2012). Fragmentation and unpredictability of early-life experience in mental disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 169, 907915.

S Barnow , C Spitzer , HJ Grabe , C Kessler , HJ Freyberger , (2006). Individual characteristics, familial experience, and psychopathology in children of mothers with borderline personality disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 45, 965972.

A Boyd , J Golding , J Macleod , DA Lawlor , A Fraser , J Henderson , L Molloy , A Ness , S Ring , GD Smith (2012). Cohort profile: the ‘children of the 90s’ – the index offspring of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. International Journal of Epidemiology 42, 111127.

M Chen , C Johnston (2007). Maternal inattention and impulsivity and parenting behaviors. Journal Clinical Child Adolescent Psychology 36, 455468.

WA Collins , EE Maccoby , L Steinberg , EM Hetherington , MH Bornstein (2000). Contemporary research on parenting. The case for nature and nurture. American Psychologist 55, 218232.

LE Crandell , MP Patrick , RP Hobson (2003). ‘Still-face’ interactions between mothers with borderline personality disorder and their 2-month-old infants. British Journal of Psychiatry 183, 239247.

PM Crittenden , L Newman (2010). Comparing models of borderline personality disorder: mothers’ experience, self-protective strategies, and dispositional representations. Clinical Child Psychology Psychiatry 15, 433451.

A Delavenne , M Gratier , E Devouche , G Apter (2008). Phrasing and fragmented time in “pathological” mother-infant vocal interaction. Musicae Scientiae 12, 4770.

RL Elliot , L Campbell , M Hunter , G Cooper , J Melville , K Mccabe , L Newman , C Loughland (2014). When I look into my baby's eyes … infant emotion recognition by mothers with borderline personality disorder. Infant Mental Health Journal 35, 2132.

RB Feldman , P Zelkowitz , M Weiss , J Vogel , M Heyman , J Paris (1995). A comparison of the families of mothers with borderline and nonborderline personality-disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry 36, 157163.

A Fraser , C Macdonald-Wallis , K Tilling , A Boyd , J Golding , GD Smith , J Henderson , J Macleod , L Molloy , A Ness (2012). Cohort profile: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children: ALSPAC mothers cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology 42, 97110.

MN Hallquist , AE Hipwell , SD Stepp (2015). Poor self-control and harsh punishment in childhood prospectively predict borderline personality symptoms in adolescent girls. Journal Abnormal Psychology 124, 549564.

NR Herr , C Hammen , PA Brennan (2008). Maternal borderline personality disorder symptoms and adolescent psychosocial functioning. Journal Personality Disorder 22, 451465.

RP Hobson , M Patrick , L Crandell , R Garcia-Perez , A Lee (2005). Personal relatedness and attachment in infants of mothers with borderline personality disorder. Developmental Psychopathology 17, 329347.

RP Hobson , MP Patrick , JA Hobson , L Crandell , E Bronfman , K Lyons-Ruth (2009). How mothers with borderline personality disorder relate to their year-old infants. British Journal of Psychiatry 195, 325330.

AE Kazdin (1997). Parent management training: evidence, outcomes, and issues. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry 36, 13491356.

EM Leerkes , AJ Supple , M O'brien , SD Calkins , JD Haltigan , MS Wong , K Fortuna (2015). Antecedents of maternal sensitivity during distressing tasks: integrating attachment, social information processing, and psychobiological perspectives. Child Development 86, 94111.

G Lewis (1994). Assessing psychiatric disorder with a human interviewer or a computer. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 48, 207210.

M Luciano , JE Huffman , A Arias-Vasquez , AAE Vinkhuyzen , CM Middeldorp , I Giegling , A Payton , G Davies , L Zgaga , J Janzing , X Ke , T Galesloot , AM Hartmann , W Ollier , A Tenesa , C Hayward , M Verhagen , GW Montgomery , JJ Hottenga , B Konte , JM Starr , V Vitart , PE Vos , PAF Madden , G Willemsen , H Konnerth , MA Horan , DJ Porteous , H Campbell , SH Vermeulen , AC Heath , A Wright , O Polasek , SB Kovacevic , ND Hastie , B Franke , DI Boomsma , NG Martin , D Rujescu , JF Wilson , J Buitelaar , N Pendleton , I Rudan , IJ Deary (2012). Genome-wide association uncovers shared genetic effects among personality traits and mood states. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B-Neuropsychiatric Genetics 159B, 684695.

J Macfie , SA Swan (2009). Representations of the caregiver-child relationship and of the self, and emotion regulation in the narratives of young children whose mothers have borderline personality disorder. Developmental Psychopathology 21, 9931011.

BP Meier , MD Robinson (2004). Does quick to blame mean quick to anger? The role of agreeableness in dissociating blame and anger. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 30, 856867.

P Moran , H Romaniuk , C Coffey , A Chanen , L Degenhardt , R Borschmann , GC Patton (2016). The influence of personality disorder on the future mental health and social adjustment of young adults: a population-based, longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Psychiatry 3, 636645.

LK Newman , CS Stevenson , LR Bergman , P Boyce (2007). Borderline personality disorder, mother-infant interaction and parenting perceptions: preliminary findings. Australia N Z Journal Psychiatry 41, 598605.

MK Nock (2009). Why do people hurt themselves? New insights into the nature and functions of self-injury. Current Directions Psychological Science 18, 7883.

JT Nigg , SP Hinshaw (1998). Parent personality traits and psychopathology associated with antisocial behaviors in childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal Child Psychology Psychiatry 39, 145159.

S Ode , MD Robinson , BM Wilkowski (2008). Can one's temper be cooled? A role for agreeableness in moderating neuroticism's influence on anger and aggression. Journal of Research in Personality 42, 295311.

J Sanz , MP García-Vera , I Magan (2010). Anger and hostility from the perspective of the Big Five personality model. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 51, 262270.

R Schacht , L Hammond , M Marks , B Wood , S Conroy (2013). The relation between mind-mindedness in mothers with borderline personality disorder and mental state understanding in their children. Infant and Child Development 22, 6884.

A Stein , RM Pearson , SH Goodman , E Rapa , A Rahman , M Mccallum , LM Howard , CM Pariante (2014). Effects of perinatal mental disorders on the fetus and child. Lancet 384, 18001819.

P Tyrer , GM Reed , MJ Crawford (2015). Classification, assessment, prevalence, and effect of personality disorder. Lancet 385, 717726.

H White , TJ Flanagan , A Martin , D Silvermann (2011). Mother-infant interactions in women with borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, their co-occurrence, and healthy controls. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology 29, 223235.

HA Whiteford , AJ Ferrari , L Degenhardt , V Feigin , T Vos (2015). The global burden of mental, neurological and substance use disorders: an analysis from the global burden of disease study 2010. PLoS ONE 10.(2): e0116820.

M Yang , J Coid , P Tyrer (2010). Personality pathology recorded by severity: national survey. British Journal Psychiatry 197, 193199.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary Materials

Pearson supplementary material
Pearson supplementary material

 Word (14 KB)
14 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 186
Total number of PDF views: 435 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1287 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 6th June 2017 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.