Document Type


Publication Date

April 1999

Journal or Book Title

American Journal of Psychiatry






Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine psychological and behavioral functioning in psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents who report histories of childhood abuse. Method: Three hundred twenty-two subjects completed an assessment battery of psychometrically well-established instruments. Childhood abuse was assessed by using the childhood abuse scale of the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory. Childhood abuse scores of 30 or less and 70 or greater were used to create two study groups—no abuse (N=93) and high abuse (N=70), respectively. The two study groups were compared demographically and on the battery of instruments. Results: The two groups differed substantially on most measures of psychological disturbance examined by the assessment battery. When age and depression level were controlled, the high-abuse group was characterized by significantly higher levels of dependency, suicidality, violence, impulsivity, substance use problems, and borderline tendency. Correlational analyses with the entire study group (N=322) revealed that higher levels of these psychological problems were positively associated with higher levels of childhood abuse. Conclusions: Psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents who report childhood abuse present with a constellation of symptoms that, after removing the effects of depression, are consistent with borderline personality in statu nascendi.