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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Feb;201(2):94-8. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182532b59.

Patterns of interpersonal problems in borderline personality disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Goettingen, Germany.


Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a wide variety of interpersonal problems. We examined whether there are different characteristic interpersonal patterns in BPD and how these patterns are related to symptom distress and therapeutic alliance. In 228 inpatients with diagnoses of BPD, interpersonal subtypes based on the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (Horowitz et al., Inventar zur Erfassung Interpersonaler Probleme, 2000) were examined through cluster analyses. The global symptom severity and therapeutic alliance were also assessed. We identified five characteristic interpersonal patterns, which we labeled as follows: Cluster 1, "Vindictive"; Cluster 2, "Moderate Submissive"; Cluster 3, "Nonassertive"; Cluster 4, "Exploitable"; and Cluster 5, "Socially Avoidant." The clusters differed significantly in terms of interpersonal distress, interpersonal differentiation, and severity of global symptoms. The ratings of the therapeutic alliance by therapists during treatment significantly differed between the interpersonal subtypes, and the lowest ratings for patients were in the "Socially Avoidant" cluster. Our results stress the impact of interpersonal style on the appearance and treatment of BPD.

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