An analysis of the impact of diverse forms of childhood psychological maltreatment on emotional adjustment in early adulthood

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Recent research has documented the long-term mental health consequences of childhood psychological maltreatment; however, this research is limited in that it typically fails to recognize the qualitative differences of the various behaviors labeled as psychological maltreatment. This study examines the predictive ability of caregiver terrorizing, degradation, ignoring, and isolating during childhood on the self-reported occurrence of anxiety, depression, somatic complaints, and features of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in a sample of 256 university students between the ages of 18 and 22. Witnessing violence and childhood physical abuse are included in the analyses. Simultaneous regression analyses reveal that different forms of maltreatment emerge as predictors of the variables of emotional adjustment. Terrorizing predicted anxiety and somatic concerns, ignoring predicted scores of depression and features of BPD, and degradation predicted BPD features only. Findings suggest psychological maltreatment is a multifaceted construct requiring further research to investigate the long-term impact of various subtypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-312
Number of pages6
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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