Borderline Personality as a Self-Other Representational Disturbance

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York State Psychiatric Institute, USA.
Journal of Personality Disorders (Impact Factor: 2.31). 11/2007; 21(5):500-17. DOI: 10.1521/pedi.2007.21.5.500
Source: PubMed


A great deal has been written about the nature of borderline personality. We maintain that borderline psychopathology emanates from particular disturbances in mental representations-impairment in the ability to maintain and use benign and integrated internal images of self and others-and that these troubled ways of thinking drive the troubled interpersonal relations, affective instability, and impulsivity associated with borderline. Aspects of borderline self-other representational disturbances are present across a wide theoretical spectrum, and a number of research methodologies already exist to assess the phenomena. We conclude that borderline attributes exist on continua, and summarize important features as: (1) unstable mental images of self and others, often marked by self-loathing and attributions of malevolence to others; (2) interactions with others organized around a fundamental need for care that is felt to be necessary for basic functioning; (3) fear of others based on expectations of being mistreated and disappointed and/or terror of having one's identity subsumed by another person; (4) difficulty considering multiple and/or conflicting perspectives, with a tendency toward concrete, all-or-none, or black-and-white, thinking and distortion of reality; and (5) sadomasochistic interpersonal interactions in which a person alternatively inflicts suffering on others and suffers at the hands of others.

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    • "Because of poor mood regulation strategies, boring situations are proposed as triggers (Linehan, 1993), particularly for identity symptoms and impulsivity. Because of a chronically unstable self-image, identity threat has been proposed as a trigger (Bender & Skodol, 2007). Identity threat refers to events or others' behaviors that threaten cherished self-images of BPD sufferers , and may lead to loss of self and a sense of emptiness. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article tested a contingency-oriented perspective to examine the dynamic relationships between in-the-moment borderline personality disorder (BPD) symptom events and in-the-moment triggers. An experience sampling study with 282 adults, including 77 participants with BPD, obtained reports of situational triggers and BPD symptom events five times daily for 2 weeks. Triggers included being rejected, betrayed, abandoned, offended, and disappointed; having one's self-concept threatened; being in a boring situation; and being alone. BPD was associated with increased situational triggers. Multilevel models revealed significant within-person associations between situational triggers and BPD symptoms for the average participant in the study, with significant individual variance in the strength and direction of trigger-symptom contingencies. Most trigger-symptom contingencies were stronger for individuals with greater borderline symptomatology, suggesting that triggers are meaningfully related to BPD. These findings highlight possible proximal mechanisms that maintain BPD and help explain the course of a disorder often described as chaotic and unpredictable.
    Journal of personality disorders 08/2015; 29(4):486-502. DOI:10.1521/pedi.2015.29.4.486 · 3.08 Impact Factor
    • "This finding is consistent with the view that negative emotional responses encourage core pathological beliefs that lead to impaired interpersonal functioning and psychological distress (Ledley et al. 2006). Some of the most problematic and destructive behaviors exhibited by individuals with BPD, such as self-harm seem to stem from interpersonal difficulties (Bender and Skodol 2007). To our knowledge this is the first study to show a link between adult borderline symptoms and childhood peer teasing . "
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    ABSTRACT: The link between Borderline Personality Disorder and childhood maltreatment is well established, although little research has explored abuse outside the familial environment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between adult borderline symptomatology and childhood peer teasing in a non-clinical sample. Two hundred and twelve participants (M = 30.64 years, range 18 to 73; 76 % female) completed questionnaires assessing levels of current borderline symptomatology and retrospectively reported childhood abuse and teasing. Regression supported the hypothesis that childhood peer teasing would be significantly associated with adult borderline symptomatology, even after controlling for depression and other forms of childhood abuse. This unique finding highlights the importance of looking beyond familial influences when investigating Borderline Personality Disorder risk factors. Further research is needed to corroborate these findings and explore other sources of toxic childhood experience.
    Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma 06/2015; 8(2):137-145. DOI:10.1007/s40653-015-0045-0
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    • "Using an ambulatory-monitoring technique, for example, Ebner-Priemer et al. (2006) found that adults with BPD had a negative recall bias: they underestimated retrospective positive emotions and overestimated retrospective negative emotions. Given that an important feature of BPD is the unstable, fluctuating, volatile nature of the self-concept (Bender and Skodol 2007; Fuchs 2007), a more momentary , present-state measure of self-concept may have greater reliability and validity than a global one. A further limitation of these methods is that they are predominantly restricted to assessing either the content or structure of self-concept, but not both. "
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    ABSTRACT: A number of clinical theories emphasise self-concept disturbance as central to borderline personality disorder (BPD). To date, however, there has been limited empirical examination of exactly how BPD changes the content and structure of self-concept. Moreover, it is unclear if patterns of self-concept disturbance are unique to BPD or are driven by axis-I comorbidities such as depression. To examine this issue, the present study adopted a dimensional design, examining how performance on a novel adaptation of a well-validated measure of self-concept (the Psychological Distance Scaling Task) was related to BPD and depression symptoms in a sample of 93 individuals with a wide range of symptom severity. While greater BPD severity was associated with less positive and more negative content of self-concept, this was driven by depression symptoms. Similarly, positive content was more diffuse and negative content more interconnected at higher levels of BPD severity, but for positive content, this was most clearly linked to comorbid depression features. In contrast, BPD severity (over and above depression symptoms) was uniquely associated with greater ‘clustering’ for positive and negative content (i.e. a more fragmented self-concept). This pattern of results lends support to clinical theories arguing that self-concept fragmentation is core to BPD and also supports the utility of dimensional analyses to identify patterns of cognitive-affective disturbance unique to BPD versus those shared with comorbid conditions like depression.
    Cognitive Therapy and Research 05/2015; 39(5). DOI:10.1007/s10608-015-9695-3 · 1.70 Impact Factor
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