The complex associations between early childhood adversity, heart rate variability, cluster B personality disorders, and aggression

Marija Jankovic*, Stefan Bogaerts, Stéphanie Klein Tuente, Carlo Garofalo, Wim Veiling, Geert van Boxtel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Early childhood adversity can cause an imbalance in the autonomic function, which may in turn lead to the development of trauma-spectrum disorders and aggressive behavior later in life. In the present study, we investigated the complex associations between early adversity, heart rate variability (HRV), cluster B personality disorders, and self-reported aggressive behavior in a group of 50 male forensic inpatients (M age = 41.16; SD = 10.72). Structural Equation Modeling analysis revealed that patients with cluster B personality disorders were more likely to have adverse early childhood experiences and reduced sympathetic dominance in response to a threat than patients without cluster B personality disorders. In addition, HRV and cluster B personality disorders did not significantly mediate the association between early childhood adversity and self-reported aggressive behavior. These findings are important for clinical practice to facilitate specific treatment programs for those affected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-915
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Volume65
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • aggression
  • cluster B personality disorders
  • early childhood adversity
  • forensic patients
  • heart rate variability
  • structural equation modeling

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