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Although dimensional models of borderline personality disorder (BPD) are consistent with findings showing that minimal levels of pathology are associated with substantial increases in psychosocial impairment, it is still unclear whether different individual BPD criteria are each clinically significant on their own. The current study uses semistructured interview data from 1,870 adults presenting for outpatient psychiatric treatment to investigate whether the BPD criteria of impulsivity, affective instability, emptiness, and anger are each related to psychosocial morbidity when met in the absence of the other eight criteria. Analyses showed that each of these criteria was associated with dysfunction in comparison with a control group meeting zero BPD criteria, but only the emptiness criterion was a marker of impairment on all indices of psychosocial morbidity: suicidality, history of suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations, social and work dysfunction, Axis I comorbidity, and global functioning. Implications for the study of borderline pathology are discussed.




Guilford Press

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Journal of Personality Disorders

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Psychology Commons