Personality disorder traits, family environment, and alcohol misuse: a multivariate behavioural genetic analysis

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Abstract:

Aims. This study seeks to estimate the extent to which a common genetic and environmental basis is shared between (i) traits delineating specific aspects of antisocial personality and alcohol misuse, and (ii) childhood family environments, traits delineating broad domains of personality pathology and alcohol misuse. Design. Postal survey data were collected from monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs. Setting. Twin pairs were recruited from Vancouver, British Columbia and London, Ontario, Canada using newspaper advertisements, media stories and twin clubs. Participants. Data obtained from 324 monozygotic and 335 dizygotic twin pairs were used to estimate the extent to which traits delineating specific antisocial personality traits and alcohol misuse shared a common genetic and environmental aetiology. Data from 81 monozygotic and 74 dizygotic twin pairs were used to estimate the degree to which traits delineating personality pathology, childhood family environment and alcohol misuse shared a common aetiology. Measurements. Current alcohol misuse and personality pathology were measured using scales contained in the self-report Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology. Perceptions of childhood family environment were measured using the self-report Family Environment Scale. Findings. Multivariate genetic analyses showed that a subset of traits delineating components of antisocial personality (i.e. grandiosity, attention-seeking, failure to adopt social norms, interpersonal violence and juvenile antisocial behaviours) are influenced by genetic factors in common to alcohol misuse. Genetically based perceptions of childhood family environment had little relationship with alcohol misuse. Conclusions. Heritable personality factors that influence the perception of childhood family environment play only a small role in the liability to alcohol misuse. Instead, liability to alcohol misuse is related to genetic factors common a specific subset of antisocial personality traits describing conduct problems, narcissistic and stimulus-seeking behaviour.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1360-0443.2000.9568735.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia 2: Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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