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Parenting and personality disorder: clinical and child protection implications

  • Gwen Adshead


I review some of the evidence that parental personality disorder represents a risk to child development, in terms of both transmission of genetic vulnerability and the environmental stress of living with a parent who has a personality disorder that negatively affects their parenting capacities. I argue that there are two compelling reasons to impose a duty on mental healthcare providers to offer services for adults with personality disorders that specifically focus on their parenting identity: first, because effective therapies for personality disorder are now available; and second, because there is a strong utilitarian and economic argument for improving parental mental health so as to reduce the economic and psychological burden of their offsprings' future psychiatric morbidity.

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Corresponding author

Dr Gwen Adshead, Locum Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, Ravenswood House, The Knowle, Fareham PO17 5NA, UK. Email:


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Learning Objectives

Be better able to consider whether any parents assessed have a personality dysfunction Understand how parental personality dysfunction may influence child development Be better prepared to make referrals of parents to psychological therapy services

Declaration of Interest




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Parenting and personality disorder: clinical and child protection implications

  • Gwen Adshead


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