Emotional Granularity and Borderline Personality Disorder

VA National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA 02130, USA.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.86). 05/2011; 120(2):414-26. DOI: 10.1037/a0021808
Source: PubMed


This study examined the affective dysregulation component of borderline personality disorder (BPD) from an emotional granularity perspective, which refers to the specificity in which one represents emotions. Forty-six female participants meeting criteria for BPD and 51 female control participants without BPD and Axis I pathology completed tasks that assessed the degree to which participants incorporated information about valence (pleasant-unpleasant) and arousal (calm-activated) in their semantic/conceptual representations of emotions and in using labels to represent emotional reactions. As hypothesized, participants with BPD emphasized valence more and arousal less than control participants did when using emotion terms to label their emotional reactions. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

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    • "Individuals with BPD may be particularly susceptible to experiencing undifferentiated affect in that they show difficulty identifying and labeling emotional experiences (Ebner-Priemer et al., 2007, 2008; Guttman & Laporte, 2002; New et al., 2012; Suvak et al., 2011; Wolff, Stiglmayr, Bretz, Lammers, & Auckenthaler, 2007), self-report lack of clarity regarding emotions (Leible & Snell, 2004; Salsman & Linehan, 2012), and tend to experience polarized (e.g., all negative or all positive) emotion (Coifman et al., 2012). Concerning the latter finding, Coifman and colleagues (2012) found that individuals with BPD reported greater polarity between positive and negative affect than healthy controls and polarity increased as a result of interpersonal stress. "
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often report experiencing several negative emotions simultaneously, an indicator of "undifferentiated" negative affect. The current study examined the relationship between undifferentiated negative affect and impulsivity. Participants with a current BPD (n = 67) or depressive disorder (DD; n = 38) diagnosis carried an electronic diary for 28 days, reporting on emotions and impulsivity when randomly prompted (up to 6 times per day). Undifferentiated negative affect was quantified using momentary intraclass correlation coefficients, which indicated how consistently negative emotion items were rated across fear, hostility, and sadness subscales. Undifferentiated negative affect at the occasion-level, day-level, and across 28 days was used to predict occasion-level impulsivity. Multilevel modeling was used to test the hypothesis that undifferentiated negative emotion would be a significant predictor of momentary impulsivity above and beyond levels of overall negative affect. Undifferentiated negative affect at the occasion and day levels were significant predictors of occasion-level impulsivity, but undifferentiated negative affect across the 28-day study period was only marginally significant. Results did not differ depending on BPD or DD status, though individuals with BPD did report significantly greater momentary impulsivity and undifferentiated negative affect. Undifferentiated negative affect may increase risk for impulsivity among individuals with BPD and depressive disorders, and the current data suggest that this process can be relatively immediate as well as cumulative over the course of a day. This research supports the consideration of undifferentiated negative affect as a transdiagnostic construct, but one that may be particularly relevant for those with BPD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Journal of Abnormal Psychology 07/2015; 124(3). DOI:10.1037/abn0000064 · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    • "Individuals with emotion dysregulation problems may feel misunderstood by others in their daily lives if they have difficulty expressing the intensity of the emotions or feelings as they occur or if they do not appear to react emotionally to negative interpersonal events (Butler et al., 2003; Rottenberg, Gross, & Gotlib, 2005). In particular, individuals with BPD have reported lack of clarity regarding emotional experiences as well as emotional suppression (Lynch, Robins, Morse, & Krause, 2001; Suvak et al., 2011). This pattern of expressed emotion may be experienced as confusing or erratic to an observer, given that the display of emotion may not always match the internal intensity that a person reports feeling. "
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    ABSTRACT: We used the Electronically Activated Recorder to observe 31 individuals with either borderline personality disorder (BPD; n = 20) or a history of a depressive disorder (n = 11). The Electronically Activated Recorder yielded approximately forty-seven 50-second sound clips per day for 3 consecutive days. Recordings were coded for expressed positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA), and coder ratings were compared to participants' reports about their PA and NA during interpersonal events. BPD participants did not differ from participants with depressive disorder in terms of their recalled levels of NA or PA across different types of interpersonal events. However, significant discrepancies between recalled and observed levels of NA and PA were found for BPD participants for all types of interpersonal events. These findings may reflect limitations in the ability of those with BPD to recall their emotional intensity during interpersonal events and may also provide some evidence for emotional invalidation experienced by those with BPD.
    Assessment 09/2013; 21(1). DOI:10.1177/1073191113504618 · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    • "The control group not only illuminates differences in rumination between BPD and healthy control (HC) participants but also assists readers in interpreting differences in emotion differentiation, a relatively novel construct within the clinical literature. Moreover , inclusion of a nonclinical control group replicates the design of the only existing study on emotion differentiation in BPD (Suvak et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Evidence that nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) serves a maladaptive emotion regulation function in borderline personality disorder (BPD) has drawn attention to processes that may increase risk for NSSI by exacerbating negative emotion, such as rumination. However, more adaptive forms of emotion processing, including differentiating broad emotional experiences into nuanced emotion categories, might serve as a protective factor against NSSI. Using an experience-sampling diary, the present study tested whether differentiation of negative emotion was associated with lower frequency of NSSI acts and urges in 38 individuals with BPD who reported histories of NSSI. Participants completed a dispositional measure of rumination and a 21-day experience-sampling diary, which yielded an index of negative emotion differentiation and frequency of NSSI acts and urges. A significant rumination by negative emotion differentiation interaction revealed that rumination predicted higher rates of NSSI acts and urges in participants with difficulty differentiating their negative emotions. The results extend research on emotion differentiation into the clinical literature and provide empirical support for clinical theories that suggest emotion identification and labeling underlie strategies for adaptive self-regulation and decreased NSSI risk in BPD.
    Behavior therapy 09/2013; 44(3):529-40. DOI:10.1016/j.beth.2013.04.008 · 3.69 Impact Factor
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