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J Pers Disord. 2010 Dec;24(6):694-708. doi: 10.1521/pedi.2010.24.6.694.

Revising the borderline diagnosis for DSM-V: an alternative proposal.

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  • McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA. jgunderson@mclean.harvard.edu


The changes in the borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis proposed by the DSM-V personality disorder work group involve radical changes in format (prototype and dimensions) and descriptive characteristics (traits). Changes of this magnitude will create an unwelcome and potentially harmful discontinuity with the definition that has guided BPD research and the development of disorder-specific therapies. This paper offers an alternative proposal that was developed in collaboration with clinical and research leaders. It includes modification of existing criteria, use of a diagnostic algorithm based on phenotypes, and giving BPD a hierarchical relationship vis-à-vis other personality disorders. These changes are incremental, diminish overlap and heterogeneity, sustain clinical and research development, and will improve utilization.

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