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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1981 Apr;169(4):225-31.

Diagnosing borderline personality. A pilot study using multiple diagnostic methods.

Abstract

The research described in this paper stemmed from the hypothesis that borderline personality organization can be differentiated from neurotic and psychotic levels of personality organization by means of three structural criteria: degree of identity integration, level of defensive operations, and capacity for reality testing. In order to elicit these criteria, the "structural" interview has been developed that focuses on the "here-and-now" patient-interviewer interaction. The patient's responses to the interviewer's attempts to clarify, confront, and interpret various aspects of the patient's interview behavior provide the basis for judgments as to the patient's structural diagnosis. Specifically, the paper reports a study of the differential diagnosis of 48 hospitalized patients in which structural diagnoses of borderline or psychotic personality organization were made according to this diagnostic interview approach. These diagnoses were compared with ones obtained from Gunderson's Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines, with psychological test diagnoses, and with clinical diagnoses based on past history and current illness. Results show substantial convergent agreement among all of the diagnostic methods and support the utility of the structural interview. In most discrepant cases, other methods reflected disagreement among themselves despite the diagnoses obtained from the structural interview, suggesting that there are some cases difficult to classify by any means. Further analysis suggests that the structural interview may be eliciting a different dimension of personality functioning in arriving at borderline diagnoses than do the other methods studied. The results also indicate that borderline structural diagnoses refer to patients described clinically as having severe character pathology, and do not overlap with patients described as having schizophrenic disorders. The structural interview appears to warrant further study, and, at the same time, shows promise as a research tool in further studies of structural diagnosis and its relevance for prognosis and treatment.

PMID:
7217928
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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