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Psychiatry Res. 2010 Apr 30;176(2-3):208-12. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2009.08.001. Epub 2010 Mar 2.

Emotional functioning of individuals with borderline personality traits in a nonclinical population.

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School of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.


Relatively few studies have evaluated the emotional functioning of individuals with borderline personality disorder traits, especially in nonclinical populations. This study therefore sought to understand further the emotional skills and subjective emotional experiences of adults with borderline traits in a community sample. Adult volunteers (N=523) were recruited from community and student populations, and borderline personality was determined via three self-report measures. Close to one in six respondents (17.2%) self-reported borderline personality traits above the threshold on the three instruments. Poor skills in managing and understanding emotion were characteristic of these individuals. They also possessed significantly poorer subjective perception of emotion, management of their own emotions and management of others' emotions, relative to the non-borderline personality controls. Skills in managing and understanding emotion and the subjective experience of managing one's own emotions were significant multivariate predictors of borderline personality trait status. We conclude that persons with borderline personality traits have pronounced deficits in emotional understanding and management. Interventions targeting these deficits are needed, given the high prevalence of borderline traits in the community.

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