General psychopathology factor and borderline personality disorder: Evidence for substantial overlap from two nationally representative surveys of U.S. adults

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Abstract

A general psychopathology factor reflects an underlying liability for a wide range of mental disorders. There is suggestive evidence that borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be strongly associated with the general psychopathology factor, but there are no detailed data on the degree of overlap between the general psychopathology factor and BPD or its individual symptoms. This study examined the overlap between the general psychopathology factor and BPD using cross-sectional survey data from two nationally representative samples of U.S. adults, the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (N = 5,692) and the National Comorbidity Survey follow-up (N = 5,001). Structural equation modeling was used to fit a bifactor general psychopathology model and to examine the general psychopathology factor's associations with (a) a series of Clusters A, B, and C personality disorder symptoms including BPD symptoms and (b) a latent BPD. Results showed that the shared variance between the general psychopathology factor and a latent BPD was 56% in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication and 71% in the National Comorbidity Survey follow-up. The correlation between the general factor and BPD could be set to unity without worsening model fit, suggesting that BPD closely reflects a general liability to psychopathology. The affective features of BPD were particularly strongly associated with the general psychopathology factor. Findings are discussed with respect to the nosology of BPD and the treatment of mental disorders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality disorders
Volume12
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)86–92
Number of pages7
ISSN1949-2715
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology

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