The Achievement Gap: The Relationship Between Borderline Personality Disorder, Childhood Trauma, and Academic Functioning

Open Access
Ross, Ana-sophia M
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kenneth Levy, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Honors Advisor
  • Karen Linn Bierman, Faculty Reader
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Childhood Trauma
  • Academic Achievement
  • Academic Functioning
  • Level of Education Attained
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine academic experiences, trauma impact, and academic achievement in patients with borderline personality disorder. Method: Ninety participants (age M = 30.87, SD = 7.85; 96% female) reliably diagnosed with BPD using a structured interview called the International Personality Disorder Examination (IPDE) completed both the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Short Form and a demographic questionnaire with questions pertaining to academic functioning. Results: Contrary to original hypotheses, partial correlation analyses revealed that BPD dimensional scores were not associated with educational attainment (ρ = .01, p = .93). However, CTQ-SF total scores and educational attainment were significantly and negatively related (ρ = -.25, p = .02). Furthermore, physical neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse were all negatively related to educational attainment with physical neglect having the largest effect and being the most significant, (ρ = .-.32, p = .00). In addition, an interaction emerged between BPD dimensional scores and physical neglect on predicting highest level of education attained, F(1,51) = 6.04, p = .02, η2 = .11. Conclusion: While most of the empirical literature focuses on the academic impairments resulting from sexual abuse and emotional neglect, it is evident that these are not the only forms of trauma associated with academic dysfunction among those who have BPD.