Black, Kate Kennedy
Unstable sense of self in borderline personality disorder: a problem of role absorption and lack of integration?
D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Recent research concerning Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has focused on the role of identity disturbance and unstable sense of self in maintaining difficulties for individuals with this diagnosis. This research proposes that unstable sense of self may be underpinned by a lack of self integration, and that as a result, people with BPD may rely heavily on the views of others‟ to inform their sense of self (role absorption), making them vulnerable in relationships and presenting barriers to recovery. The present study utilised a mixed design and questionnaire methodology to investigate sense of self and discrepancies between self and anticipated other perspectives. Participants were 10 females with BPD, 10 females with anxiety and depression and 10 females with no history of mental health difficulties. Participants completed the Who Are You? questionnaire, in addition to the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading, Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory. Participants in clinical groups completed the SCID-II interview for Borderline Personality Disorder and the SCID-I Mood Episodes and Anxiety Disorders modules. Results indicate that for females with BPD, sense of self is significantly more negative in content when compared with females with anxiety and depression and those with no history of mental health difficulties. Females with BPD have significantly larger discrepancies between their sense of their appearance and their sense of how their appearance is viewed by significant others, in comparison to other participants with anxiety and depression, and those with no history of mental health difficulties. There is some evidence that females with BPD have significantly less integrated sense of self in comparison to participants with anxiety and depression, and participants with no history of mental health problems. Results do not support a role absorption hypothesis as underpinning unstable sense of self in BPD, which may have implications for current psychological conceptualisations of BPD.
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