Evaluations of Others by Borderline Patients

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Abstract

This study investigated evaluations of other people in specific emotional situations by patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD patients (N = 16), control patients with cluster C personality disorder (PD; N = 12) and normal controls (N = 15) saw film clips with emotional themes centering on abandonment, rejection and abuse, hypothesized to be specific for borderline pathology. Subjects wrote down their spontaneous reactions to six film personalities, divided over three clips, including what they thought to be characteristic traits of these persons. Spontaneous reactions were coded on two dimensions, based on earlier studies by Westen and colleagues: a) affect-tone of ascribed qualities and b) complexity of evaluations of people. The number of trait dimensions constituted the third scale. The overall pattern of findings suggests that the BPD group, as well as the cluster C group, show poorly differentiated evaluations with a low number of dimensions. Thus, this seems characteristic for personality disorders in general. The BPD group shows a lower affect-tone, reflecting a stronger tendency to view others negatively, compared with both control groups.

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