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In the present report from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services project, we examined the role of emotion dysregulation as a mediator between childhood abuse and borderline personality disorder (BPD) feature severity among a sample of 964 adults presenting for treatment at an outpatient clinic. A structural equation model suggested that emotional abuse relates to BPD features both directly and through difficulties with emotion regulation, whereas physical abuse showed only a weak indirect relation with BPD features. There was no link between sexual abuse and BPD feature severity in the model. Results add specificity to etiological theories of BPD and suggest that future research in treatment should focus on developing and strengthening emotion regulation strategies in clinical populations with a history of emotional abuse. Clinicians should be sure to assess the presence of childhood emotional abuse in addition to sexual and physical abuse.




American Psychological Association

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Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment

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