The impact of ADHD and autism spectrum disorders on temperament, character, and personality development

Henrik Anckarsäter, Ola Stahlberg, Tomas Larson, Catrin Hakansson, Sig Britt Jutblad, Lena Niklasson, Agneta Nydén, Elisabet Wentz, Stefan Westergren, C. Robert Cloninger, Christopher Gillberg, Maria Rastam

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    207 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Objective: The authors describe personality development and disorders in relation to symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders. Method: Consecutive adults referred for neuropsychiatric investigation (N=240) were assessed for current and lifetime ADHD and autism spectrum disorders and completed the Temperament and Character Inventory. In a subgroup of subjects (N=174), presence of axis II personality disorders was also assessed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders (SCID-II). Results: Patients with ADHD reported high novelty seeking and high harm avoidance. Patients with autism spectrum disorders reported low novelty seeking, low reward dependence, and high harm avoidance. Character scores (self-directedness and cooperativeness) were extremely low among subjects with neuropsychiatric disorders, indicating a high overall prevalence of personality disorders, which was confirmed with the SCID-II. Cluster B personality disorders were more common in subjects with ADHD, while cluster A and C disorders were more common in those with autism spectrum disorders. The overlap between DSM-IV personality disorder categories was high, and they seem less clinically useful in this context. Conclusions: ADHD and autism spectrum disorders are associated with specific temperament configurations and an increased risk of personality disorders and deficits in character maturation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1239-1244
    Number of pages6
    JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
    Volume163
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jul 2006

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    Anckarsäter, H., Stahlberg, O., Larson, T., Hakansson, C., Jutblad, S. B., Niklasson, L., Nydén, A., Wentz, E., Westergren, S., Cloninger, C. R., Gillberg, C., & Rastam, M. (2006). The impact of ADHD and autism spectrum disorders on temperament, character, and personality development. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(7), 1239-1244. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.7.1239