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Personal Disord. 2012 Apr;3(2):127-39. doi: 10.1037/a0024134. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Borderline personality disorder as a female phenotypic expression of psychopathy?

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.


Evidence suggests that the combination of the interpersonal-affective (F1) and impulsive-antisocial (F2) features of psychopathy may be associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD), specifically among women (e.g., Coid, 1993; Hicks, Vaidyanathan, & Patrick, 2010). However, empirical research explicitly examining gendered relationships between BPD and psychopathy factors is lacking. To further inform this area of research, we investigated the hypothesis that the interplay between the two psychopathy factors is associated with BPD among women across two studies. Study 1 consisted of a college sample of 318 adults (51% women), and Study 2 consisted of a large sample of 488 female prisoners. The interpersonal-affective (F1) and impulsive-antisocial psychopathy (F2) scores, measured with self-report and clinician-rated indices, respectively, were entered as explanatory variables in regression analyses to investigate their unique contributions to BPD traits. Across two independent samples, results indicated that the interaction of high F1 and F2 psychopathy scores was associated with BPD in women. This association was found to be specific to women in Study 1. These results suggest that BPD and psychopathy, at least as they are measured by current instruments, overlap in women and, accordingly, may reflect gender-differentiated phenotypic expressions of similar dispositional vulnerabilities.

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