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Jennifer Drabble

Jennifer Drabble

Mediators of Self-injurious Behaviours in Borderline Personality Disorder

Discipline/professional area

Outline of research project

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is defined by its core affective instability, in tandem with impulsive and erratic behaviours that are difficult to control (Linehan, 1993). Self-harm in particular plays a central role in BPD, to the extent it is one of the diagnostic criterion (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). It is not clear why some individuals choose to self-harm, however it is most commonly conceptualised as an affect regulation mechanism employed to make the individual feel better in some way, often as a distraction from painful and unwelcome emotions (Klonsky, 2007). This research programme aims to address weaknesses in the current literature by exploring what mechanisms contribute to self-harm behaviours in individuals with varying levels of BPD features. This has potentially far reaching implications for the theory and clinical practice, as understanding the nature and function of self-harm in BPD can lead to more effective avenues of research and practice.

Key references

Ayduk, O, Zayas, V, Downey, G, Cole, A. B, Shoda, Y, & Mischel, W (2008) Rejection sensitivity and executive control: Joint predictors of borderline personality features. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 151 - 168. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2007.04.002

Coolidge, F L, Thede, L L. & Jang, K L (2004) Are personality disorders psychological manifestations of executive function deficit? Bivariate heritability evidence from a twin study. Behavior Genetics, 34,75–84.

Klonsky, E D (2007) The Functions of deliberate self injury: A review of the evidence. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 226–239. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2006.08.002

Linehan, M M (1993) Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder,New York, Guildford Press

Director of studies
Dr David Bowles


Dr Lynne Barker
Dr Maddy Arden

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