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Shame Linked to Anger in Borderline Personality Disorder

Comparison study supports clinical observations that shame is a central feature of the disorder

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- In women with borderline personality disorder, shame is a prominent feature on an explicit as well as implicit level, and is associated with a poorer quality of life, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anger and hostility, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Nicolas Rusch, M.D., of the University of Freiburg in Germany, and colleagues assessed self-reports from 60 women with borderline personality disorder, 30 women with social phobia and 60 healthy women.

Compared to women with social phobia and healthy women, the researchers found that women with borderline personality disorder were more likely to report higher levels of shame- and guilt-proneness, state shame and anxiety. They also found that women with borderline personality disorder were more likely to have a shame-prone implicit self-concept. After controlling for depression, they found that shame-prone patients were more likely than anxiety-prone patients to have a poor quality of life, low self-esteem, anger and hostility.

"This lends empirical support to the clinical experience of shame being a core feature in borderline personality disorder and to ancient knowledge that shame can wreak havoc in an individual's life -- as exemplified, for instance, in Sophocles' tragedy Ajax," the authors conclude. "Future research needs to further examine the role of shame in borderline personality disorder and its relation to anger and impulsive behavior as well as to develop psychotherapeutic strategies to address shame-proneness."

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