Self-invalidation in borderline personality disorder: A content analysis of patients’ verbalizations

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Objective The ability to trust one's own perceptions is crucial for psychological well-being and growth. The relevance of its opposite, self-invalidation (SI), to the psychopathology of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is emphasized in many contemporary theories of evidence-based treatments for BPD. Empirical research on this topic remains scarce, however. This study aimed to describe manifestations of SI in individuals with BPD during a 40-session psychoeducational intervention based mainly on schema therapy.

Method Transcripts of videotaped group sessions were analyzed inductively using qualitative content analysis.

Results SI emerged as a recurrent, ubiquitous phenomenon. The content analysis yielded three core categories of SI: (1) a self-critical and harsh attitude towards the self (subcategories reflected punitive internalizations that could engender fear-based inertia, self-erasing, submissive coping behavior, and temporal fluctuation in SI), (2) a deficient sense of normalcy, and self-doubt, and (3) self-stigma. We also found an association of SI with various dimensions of BPD, including difficulty in the identification of emotions, secondary emotional reactions such as guilt, shame, anger, and resentment, self-related and interpersonal problems, and suicidal urges.

Conclusions SI is a detrimental cognitive-emotional process relevant to BPD that merits treatment. Efforts to reduce self-stigma, a pernicious aspect of SI, are imperative.

TidskriftPsychotherapy Research
Sidor (från-till)922-935
Antal sidor14
StatusPublicerad - 3 okt. 2022
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


  • 3124 Neurologi och psykiatri

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