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Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Sep;183:239-47.

'Still-face' interactions between mothers with borderline personality disorder and their 2-month-old infants.

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1
Developmental Psychopathology Research Unit, Tavistock Clinic, London, UK. drlisa@libero.it

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is evidence that psychopathology in mothers may be associated with dysfunctional mother-infant interactions.

AIMS:

To investigate mother-infant relations when mothers have borderline personality disorder.

METHOD:

Eight mothers with borderline personality disorder and twelve mothers without psychiatric disorder were videotaped interacting with their 2-month-old infants in three successive phases of interaction: face-to-face play; an episode when the mother adopted a 'still face' and was unreactive; and a period when play interactions were resumed. The videotapes were rated by judges blind to the diagnostic group of the mother.

RESULTS:

The mothers with borderline personality disorder were more intrusively insensitive towards their infants. During the still-face period, their infants showed increased looking away and dazed looks. Following this, mother-infant interactions were less satisfying and their infants showed dazed looks and lowering of affect.

CONCLUSIONS:

The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is associated with a particular pattern of mother-infant interaction. The infants' responses to the still-face challenge might suggest dysfunctional self-regulation, but the developmental significance remains to be assessed.

PMID:
12948998
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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