Having bad parents results often in personality disorders later in life: nature versus nurture, and how parenting can radically affect chances of mental illness for their children later on in life - blog by Gurdur

 




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Having bad parents results often in personality disorders later in life: nature versus nurture, and how parenting can radically affect chances of mental illness for their children later on in life
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Posted 20-Jun-2010 at 07:41 AM (07:41) by Gurdur
Updated 21-Jun-2010 at 08:31 AM (08:31) by Gurdur

There's a really interesting study which came out in 2006: "Parenting behaviors associated with risk for offspring personality disorder during adulthood" (you can read the paper in full at that link). That study was done as part of a larger project, the Children In The Community project, which began with following over 800 children in 1975 in longitudinal studies, originally living in Albany and Saratoga Counties in up-state New York, and has continued for twenty-nine years. A number of studies including the one discussed now have been made as part of that overall project, which you can read about at this link here. This particular study used a community-project-based sample of 593 families interviewed during childhood (mean age, 6 years), adolescence (mean ages, 14 and 16 years), emerging adulthood (mean age, 22 years), and adulthood (mean age, 33 years) of the offspring. And with thanks to the blogger The Last Psychiatrist for bringing up the particular study discussed in this blog.

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Now take a look at the graph at immediate left, which is, "Figure 1: Association of problematic parental behavior in the home by a mean offspring of age 16 years with risk for any offspring personality disorder (PD) at a mean age of 22 or 33 years", of the study, and which you can see in the original full size here.
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Now, on the horizontal X-axis, specific types of problematic parental behavior are counted, for example (see the paper for details and also see the table at the bottom of this blog post), harsh maternal punishment, inconsistant maternal rules enforcement, low paternal time and so on.
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The more of these kind of types of problematical parental behaviours, the higher the number along that horizontal X-axis.
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What is very clear just from that one graph is how the more the different types of problematical parental behaviours there are, the higher the risk the offspring have of developing personality disorders in life, and the higher that risk later in life.


And now here is where it gets really interesting:

The graph now just below at immediate lower left is "Figure 2: Association of problematic parenting behavior in the home by a mean offspring age of 16 years with risk for specific types of offspring personality disorders (PDs) at a mean age of 22 or 33 years. ......" (you can see the original in full size here).

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If you look at the graph at immediate left, you will see that on the numbers of types of problematic parental behaviour shown by parents is still being marked on the horizontal X-axis, while the cumulative effect on risks for different types of personality disorders is shown on the upright, vertical Y-axis.
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Now it is very important to realise we are talking about what are officially classed in the category Wikipedia link for personality disorder personality disorder.
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Do not, for example, confuse the Wikipedia link for Paranoid Personality Disorder Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) used here on the graph at left with classical paranoia --- PPD is very different to classical paranoia, which is usually the psychiatric condition of Wikipedia link for paranoid schizophrenia paranoid schizophrenia.
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And what we actually see from that graph at immediate left is that, for example, Wikipedia link for Narcissistic Personality Disorder Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) starts off woth a higher (adjusted, compensated) baseline than does Wikipedia link for Antisocial Personality Disorder Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), but NPD is relatively inflexible in its risk curve compared to ASPD, while ASPD is dramatically influenced by bad parenting.
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In other words, you have a higher chance of being born narcissistic than of being born an aggressive, easily-bored liar who gets into lots of legal trouble, though it's not all that high. In fact, you have almost no chance of being born an aggressive, easily-bored liar who gets into lots of legal trouble.
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But you have a far higher chance of becoming aggressive, easily-bored liar who gets into lots of legal trouble, if your parents are aggressive, easily-bored liars who gets into lots of legal trouble, and they treat you badly.
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And even if your parents are really nasty to you, and they are an aggressive, easily-bored liars who gets into lots of legal trouble, then it still doesn't mean much about whether you grow up to become a narcissist in later life.

Further conclusions:

And if we look at the other two graphs left (shown below at the bottom of this blog post), we can see, for example (keep in mind these are mostly my own conclusions, not the conclusions of the authors of the paper):
  • You get born obsessive-compulsive but not made that way by your parents.
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  • You do not get born anti-social, but you do get made that way by your parents (or you make yourself so, though that is not covered in this study); or in other words, most criminals are made (or choose to be so), not born.
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  • You may have the bad luck to be born with Wikipedia link for Schizoid Personality Disorder Schizoid Personality Disorder, but at least you probably won't get made that way. But on the other hand, if you get born with a risk of Wikipedia link for Schizotypal Personality Disorder Schizotypal Personality Disorder (a very different thing), then if your parents treat you very badly, you have a much higher risk of developing it badly.
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  • The risks of devolping later in life Wikipedia link for Paranoid Personality Disorder Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) (please do not confuse with paranoia!) and Wikipedia link for Depressive Personality Disorder Depressive Personality Disorder (DPD) are greatly heightened the worse the parenting is.
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  • There are some psychiatric disorders which are simply not influenced much by parenting, whether the parenting is good, bad or indifferent (but those disorders are rare for the whole general population).
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  • As the Last Psychiatrist wrote, "... being an aversive parent is a great way of making someone borderline or passive-aggressive, not to mention paranoid. But it doesn't make them antisocial".
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  • For those disorders where parenting makes a marked difference, it makes a very big difference for your children if you show only a few bad parenting behaviours, compared to if you decide to go the whole hog and be as nasty as you can in as many different ways as you can to your children. So if you're going to be a bad parent in any way, do try to keep it down to only a couple of types of behaviour.
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  • And even if you have a biologically caused psychiatric disorder, you can help make sure your children do not develop psychiatric disorders in any form simply by being a good parent to them. That will greatly reduce their risk of developing disorders.

So we can see from all of this that splitting things into nature versus nurture is sometimes a very good idea, and it helps us get a grip on the problem and to know what we can do to fix it, in detail.

One last note: The Last Psychiatrist writes that the nature versus nurture debate is all but over in psychiatry the USA; apparently everything in American psychiatry is now in a slipshod manner reckoned to be "nature", i.e. biological, and he draws attention to the fact that the authors of this study were almost all not MD's, i.e. basically saying the researchers had a completely different approach and point of view than do American psychiatrists these days.


This blog case study revolving around one single paper is part of a series of blog posts of mine on the nature/nurture, mind/body areas of issues.

Also see this for general information on this area if this is all very new to you.


The rest of the graphs and the table of the paper cited in this blog post:


(Immediately below) Figure 3: Association of aversive parenting behavior evident by a mean offspring age of 16 years with risk for specific offspring personality disorders (PDs) at a mean age of 22 or 33 years. The composite index of aversive parental behaviors was significantly associated with risk for offspring borderline (P = .001), paranoid (P = .004), passive-aggressive (P = .046), and schizotypal (P = .02) PDs at a mean offspring age of 22 or 33 years. (You can see the original in full size here). (Immediately below) Figure 4: Association of low parental affection or nurturing evident by a mean offspring age of 16 years with risk for specific offspring personality disorders (PDs) at a mean age of 22 or 33 years. The composite index of low parental affection or nurturing was significantly associated with risk for offspring antisocial (P = .003), avoidant (P = .01), borderline (P = .002), depressive (P = .02), paranoid (P = .002), schizoid (P = .046), and schizotypal (P<.001) PDs at a mean offspring age of 22 or 33 years. (You can see the original in full size here).

Table: Parenting Behaviors Evident by a Mean Offspring Age of 16 Years That Were Significantly Associated With Offspring Personality Disorder During Adulthood in 593 Families (you can see the original in full size here)




The paper referred to throughout this blog post is:

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 May;63(5):579-87.
Parenting behaviors associated with risk for offspring personality disorder during adulthood.

Johnson JG, Cohen P, Chen H, Kasen S, Brook JS.

(Archives of General Psychiatry, published by the American Medical Association (AMA), USA)

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  1. Old Comment
    Makbawehuh's Avatar
    Ya, even being loosely affiliated with fields dealing with mental illness in the US is one of those things that really highlights how much emphasis is put on nature by the professionals these days. It's something I've always found a little bit disgusting... May all the gods forbid you tell someone that their choices as a parent MIGHT have an affect on their child!

    Sometimes the lack of common sense in medical fields astounds me.

    Also... If you get autologged out, try to post to the blog, and log back in, the site redirects you to a "full listing of blogs" that's blank.
    Posted 20-Jun-2010 at 10:47 PM (22:47) by Makbawehuh Makbawehuh is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Makbawehuh View Comment
    .... Sometimes the lack of common sense in medical fields astounds me.
    Like any other professional field. People are human, includes doctors, and subject to silly fashions.

    Quote:
    Also... If you get autologged out, try to post to the blog, and log back in, the site redirects you to a "full listing of blogs" that's blank.
    I can't really do anything about that. It's obviously a bug, but not really a bug I can do much about. Sorry.
    Posted 21-Jun-2010 at 08:13 AM (08:13) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
    Updated 21-Jun-2010 at 11:41 AM (11:41) by Gurdur
  3. Old Comment
    Makbawehuh's Avatar
    The problem is that, like so many silly fashions, this is one that can do real damage.

    And, I was just letting you know. I do these things.
    Posted 21-Jun-2010 at 07:28 PM (19:28) by Makbawehuh Makbawehuh is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Makbawehuh View Comment
    The problem is that, like so many silly fashions, this is one that can do real damage.
    Indeed. But I shall be blogging more on that; to my mind, the silly fashion is driven by the public rather than doctors. But we shall see.

    Quote:
    And, I was just letting you know. I do these things.
    Please do, and thanks! Even if I can't do anything about it, I file the info away in my brain, and if I ever come across a solution, then I can implement it.
    Posted 21-Jun-2010 at 07:50 PM (19:50) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Makbawehuh's Avatar
    You have been very busy today.
    Posted 21-Jun-2010 at 09:50 PM (21:50) by Makbawehuh Makbawehuh is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Makbawehuh View Comment
    You have been very busy today.
    Indeedy. I hope to be able to keep up this level of activity.
    Posted 22-Jun-2010 at 03:05 AM (03:05) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  7. Old Comment
    lifelinking's Avatar
    This ties in very closely with work that has been done on disparities in health as highlighted hereand with findings from risk factor analysis in criminology.

    There are of course good, critical points to make about the limitations and dangers of positivist approaches, and concerns about who has the power to define deviant populations; but looking at recent findings from the different disciplines and at the literature as a whole, it really does emphasise how crucial good, consistent parenting in the early years is.

    Of course, interpreting what this means and answering questions about what we can or should do about it (if anything?) takes us in to an intensely political arena.

    The sort of arena that humanists should be in the thick of, asking the awkward questions and questioning the underlying assumptions.

    Great work Gurdur.
    Posted 23-Jun-2010 at 01:42 PM (13:42) by lifelinking lifelinking is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lifelinking View Comment
    This ties in very closely with work that has been done on disparities in health as highlighted here and with findings from risk factor analysis in criminology.
    Indeed.

    Quote:
    ...The sort of arena that humanists should be in the thick of, asking the awkward questions and questioning the underlying assumptions.
    Damn it, YES. This is what we should be doing, and hard; yet too few humanists seem willing and able to tackle nasty subjects like this without getting too overly ideological. To some degree it's a lack of knowledge; I feel very bad in not having necessary knowledge myself, so often I have to very hurriedly see what I can do. But yes, we as humanists need to be able to drive public debates on these things, rather than being reduced to bandwagon spectators, so to speak.

    Anyway, although I own up to a lack of the necessary knowledge, I will keep trying myself to bring up things like this.

    And Lifelinking, a huge many thanks to you personally, since I've noticed you doing exactly what is needed; bring up these things for debate, blogging the needed info. So many thanks to you!

    Quote:
    Great work Gurdur.
    It follows on your own, and your linked blog entry was great, as have been others.
    Posted 23-Jun-2010 at 06:19 PM (18:19) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  9. Old Comment
    MidnightWolf's Avatar
    I'm not sure how I missed this blog when it was posted, but it's interesting.

    For example, although I was hugged as I child. I rarely got the opportunity to play games at home. My dad was always busy with work, but could sometimes find play things like Monopoly, card games etc. But I cannot remember my mother EVER playing a game with me. She may have done when I was a baby, but obviously...I DON'T REMEMBER THAT. I'll shut up now.
    Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 07:23 PM (19:23) by MidnightWolf MidnightWolf is offline
  10. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MidnightWolf View Comment
    .... I'll shut up now.
    No need to shut up at all. No call to shut up.
    Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 07:27 PM (19:27) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  11. Old Comment
    MidnightWolf's Avatar
    I feel like I was rambling about something a bit irrelevant.
    Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 07:29 PM (19:29) by MidnightWolf MidnightWolf is offline
  12. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MidnightWolf View Comment
    I feel like I was rambling about something a bit irrelevant.
    Rambling is fine.
    Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 07:49 PM (19:49) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
  13. Old Comment
    Makbawehuh's Avatar
    Parental noninvolvement, even if there right there, can feel just the same as parental abandonment- when they're not there at all. *hugs to Midnightwolf* It's a big deal.
    Posted 06-Sep-2010 at 11:17 PM (23:17) by Makbawehuh Makbawehuh is offline
  14. Old Comment
    I think what is not being considered is the "cart vs. horse issue". Parenting a child with a personality disorder is extremely difficult and stressful, and will therefore bring out more bad parenting behaviors. Showing an association between bad parenting behaviors and a personality disorder in a child doesn't prove one as causing the other. Seems like it might be a case of a vicious circle. But if it were all nature, not nurture, one would still see a lot of bad parenting.
    Posted 18-Jul-2012 at 02:49 PM (14:49) by Unregistered
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