|| Role of Sexual Abuse in the Etiology of Borderline Personality Disorder
||Mary C. Zanarini
||American Psychiatric Press, ©1997
American Psychiatric Press
1400 K St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
The logical error of affirming the consequence has been widespread in the
interpretation of alleged effects of sexual abuse to support and affirm
the validity of allegations of prior abuse. It is acceptable to reason,
"If P->Q," but it is error to then reason, "If Q->P."
Nevertheless, reports, testimony, and various decisions are often made by
reasoning that since a person shows symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder,
therefore there was prior sexual abuse and an allegation is true.
This 247-page book consisting of 12 chapters by different contributors brings
together both data and a reasoned analysis of the diagnostic category of
borderline personality disorder (BPD). The editor understands that sexual
abuse is being suggested as the most important etiological factor for almost
all problems women experience. After reading the contributions making up
this volume, it will be clear that for some the development of BPD has no
relationship to an experience of childhood abuse. There are others for whom
the experience of childhood abuse contributes to their malaise. Finally,
there are some for whom it may have been the major causal factor in the
Another benefit to reading this book will be a more systematic and sophisticated
understanding of the nature and the process of psychiatric diagnosis. Given
the widespread perception of psychiatric diagnosis as weak in validity and
reliability, this outcome can be quite helpful. For those who want to understand
more clearly the relationship between sexual abuse and long-term effects,
this book offers a model for cogent and reasoned analysis of claims about
the consequences of being sexually abused.
Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies.