Psychiatric diagnoses of self-reported child abusers

Stephen H. Dinwiddie, Kathleen K. Bucholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


In order to evaluate lifetime psychiatric diagnoses and prevalence of dyssocial behaviors among self-reported child abusers, three large databases of clinical, community, and family study subjects were examined. Subjects who had acted as parents and who reported any episodes of child battery were compared to those without any history of child battery on prevalence of psychiatric disorders and dyssocial behaviors. Overall, 4% of subjects from the community sample reported child abuse. Abusers not selected through alcoholism treatment were more likely to receive diagnoses of alcoholism, antisocial personality disorder, and major depression. Those selected through alcoholism treatment were more likely to have antisocial personality disorder. Abusers in general were found to have a history of disciplinary problems, property destruction, and as adults to engage in other violent behaviors. It was concluded that self-identified child abusers have increased lifetime rates of antisocial personality disorder, alcoholism, and depression. The association between child abuse and other violence is not explained by selection of cases through the medical or legal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-476
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993


  • Child abuse
  • Psychiatric diagnoses
  • Self-report


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