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Personal Disord. 2018 Nov;9(6):521-529. doi: 10.1037/per0000281. Epub 2018 Feb 19.

Dynamic associations between borderline personality disorder and stressful life events over five years in older adults.

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College of William and Mary.
Washington University in St. Louis.


The time course of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is far more variable than traditionally assumed. Shifting environmental conditions are theorized to account, at least in part, for fluctuations in symptom presentation over time. In the present study, we evaluated the reciprocal influences of stressful life events and borderline pathology in a representative community sample of 1,630 older adults assessed 3 times over 5 years. An autoregressive cross-lagged model revealed strong, but imperfect, stability in symptoms of BPD over the study time frame. After adjusting for this continuity in BPD, the prospective effect of life stress on borderline pathology was virtually nil, contrary to expectations. On the other hand, borderline pathology was prospectively related to subsequent dependent event (i.e., stressors to which individuals may have contributed), but not independent event (i.e., fateful stressors), exposure. This pattern of associations was consistent with a stress generation effect. We conclude that stressful life events do not substantially redirect the trajectory of BPD in older adults, possibly owing to inertia of borderline pathology at this developmental stage. Instead, symptoms of BPD seem to promote stress exposure, thereby setting the stage for continued social impairment and comorbid psychiatric problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

[Available on 2019-11-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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