The Quality of Depression in Adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder

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The quality of depression in borderline adolescent girls was compared with the quality of depression in depressed, nonborderline girls. Psychoanalytic theories led us to expect signs of anaclitic depression in borderlines as well as a depressive sense of being “all bad.‘’ Method: Quality of depression was examined by means of Rorschach content analysis and the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ). Borderline girls were expected to show greater Rorschach imagery pertaining to oral dependency and oral aggression than would depressed, nonborderline control girls. The borderline diagnosis was based on the Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines. DSM-III-R criteria were used to diagnose depression. Subjects were psychiatric inpatients, ages 14 to 18 years.


As expected, it was found that borderline girls scored significantly higher than did controls on Rorschach scales of oral dependency; borderlines scored significantly higher on DEQ factors of dependency and self-criticism. Significant DEQ items reflected the borderlines' abandonment fears.


This study provides empirical support for anaclitic depression in borderline adolescents, and suggests the presence of underlying fears in borderlines of being fundamentally evil or bad. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1993, 32, 6:1172–1177.

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