Psychosocial Stress and Trauma | Family Structure and Function | Peer Interactions | Community and Social Factors | Academic Factors | Environmental Toxins
Childhood trauma is a risk factor for subsequent violent behavior.
Studies of victimized women find that physical and sexual abuse
in childhood increase risk for violence against domestic partners
and spouses. Individuals with documented neglect and abuse are four
times more likely to develop personality disorders than the general
population. Physical and sexual abuse both increase risk for ASPD
and borderline personality disorder, conditions for which aggression
is a core symptom. The bases for this association have been elucidated
using animal models. Rodents exposed to early environmental stress
(i.e., decreased frequency of maternal licking, grooming, and arched back
nursing) have altered neurophysiological and neuroendocrine parameters
mediated by neural circuits linking the amygdala, hippocampus, and
prefrontal cortex, affecting domains such as processing of emotional
information and stress responsivity (Zhang et al. 2004).
These findings are consistent with data indicating that victims
of childhood abuse and neglect often have difficulty processing
and modulating emotional reactions to life events and that the inability
to properly regulate physiological arousal in the context of affect-laden
experiences can easily escalate to aggressive behavior (Caspi et al. 2002).