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J Abnorm Psychol. 2009 May;118(2):375-87. doi: 10.1037/a0015711.

An exploration of the emotional cascade model in borderline personality disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1270, USA.


The emotional cascade model proposes that the emotional and behavioral dysregulation of individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be fundamentally linked through emotional cascades, vicious cycles of intense rumination and negative affect that may induce aversive emotional states. In order to reduce this aversive emotion, dysregulated behaviors such as non-suicidal self-injury may then be used as distractions from intense rumination. This study explored emotional cascades in a sample enriched with participants meeting diagnostic criteria for BPD. The first part of the study explored a structural equation model that examined the mediational effects of emotional cascades on the relationship between BPD symptoms and dysregulated behavior and found evidence for full mediation, even after controlling for symptoms of depression and other Cluster B disorders. The second part of the study examined the effects of a rumination induction conducted with the intention of eliciting emotional cascades in those diagnosed with BPD. The results demonstrated that individuals with BPD experienced greater reactivity and intensity of negative affect, but not of positive affect, following the procedure-even when controlling for current depressive symptoms. Future directions and clinical implications for the emotional cascade model are discussed.

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