Skip to main content

The Origin and Structure of the Abusive Personality

Published Online:

Comparisons were made of 120 wife-assaultive men and 40 demographically matched controls. Discriminant functions correctly classified 90% (based on personality scores only) and 95% (personality and anger scores) of men into high and low categories for psychological abuse (as reported by a sample of their female partners). The measure correlated most highly with the discriminant function was borderline personality organization (BPO), but anger and other personality disorders also contributed to discriminatory power. Negativlstic (passive-aggressive + self-defeating) personality disorder was associated with the discriminant function for both emotional abuse and dominance/isolation, but narcissistic and aggressive-sadistic personality disorders were more associated with emotional abuse and avoidant personality disorder was more associated with dominance/isolation. The avoidant-negativistic profile (with associated borderline features) found for these men is also indicative of posttraumatic stress disorder. The etiology of an abusive personality pattern was assessed by discriminating high and low scorers on the basis of self-report recollections of early family of origin experiences. Paternal rejection was the most powerful contributor to this discriminant function.