Mental state identification, borderline pathology, and the neglected role of childhood trauma

Shauna R. Weinstein, Kevin B. Meehan, Nicole M. Cain, Luis H. Ripoll, Ayelet R. Boussi, Nicholas Papouchis, Larry J. Siever, Antonia S. New

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research evaluating mental state identification in individuals with borderline pathology has yielded inconsistent results; contradictory findings were hypothesized to be driven by moderating effects of childhood trauma. Participants were 105 ethnically diverse men and women who exhibited a range of borderline pathology measured by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV) criteria for borderline personality disorder. Mental state identification accuracy was measured using the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). Greater childhood abuse, but not childhood neglect, was associated with enhanced mental state identification accuracy on negative stimuli, when controlling for dissociation (ps <.05); these findings could not be explained by reaction time (RT) or response bias. Childhood abuse and childhood neglect were not related to mental state identification accuracy on neutral or positive stimuli, and they did not moderate the relationship between borderline pathology and mental state identification accuracy on negative, neutral, or positive stimuli. Borderline pathology was not independently related to mental state identification accuracy on negative, neutral, or positive stimuli. Greater childhood neglect, but not childhood abuse, was related to slower RTs on negative, neutral, and positive stimuli (ps <.05). Results underline the importance of separately assessing childhood abuse and childhood neglect and of controlling for dissociation, and they suggest borderline pathology may not universally hinder complex mental state identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

Keywords

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Childhood trauma
  • Mental state identification
  • Mentalization
  • RMET

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  • Cite this

    Weinstein, S. R., Meehan, K. B., Cain, N. M., Ripoll, L. H., Boussi, A. R., Papouchis, N., Siever, L. J., & New, A. S. (2016). Mental state identification, borderline pathology, and the neglected role of childhood trauma. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 7(1), 61-71. https://doi.org/10.1037/per0000139