to better describe and understand these styles, i explore the phenomenological structure of borderline affective instability and discuss the implications it might have for how a person experiences and relates to other people. the aim of this paper is to examine the structures and styles of interpersonal experience in bpd that may underlie or correlate with interpersonal problems. although interpersonal problems are certainly not reducible to experiential issues, the question arises as to what role interpersonal experience plays in the genesis and processing of them. applying this approach to interpersonal experience in bpd and focusing on how the affective dimension shapes styles of social encounters and relatedness, the task then is to unravel what the affective phenomena in bpd mean for experiencing others. moreover, the aim here is not to reconstruct the whole lifeworld of a given person but to identify possible implications that different aspects of affective disorders in bpd might have for how they experience other people. fuchs (2007) has interpreted borderline as a disorder of narrative processes that is closely connected to instabilities in affect, self, and intersubjectivity. a central aspect of affective instability in borderline is alexithymia, that is, the inability to recognize, identify, and label one’s own emotions (new et al., 2012). in this case, the discomfort of not knowing, of confusion and uncertainty, was my exchange with dinah (luyten, 1985, pp. the problem with alexithymia and difficulties in affective self-understanding is precisely that it prevents such a self-awareness, and thus precludes the experience of the other as responsive to one’s feelings in the right way. from an experiential point of view, these characteristics in the borderline style of empathy can be interpreted as an expression of a specific style of experiencing other people and their emotions. a lack of empathic ability can also lead to the emergence of maladaptive strategies for better grasping what others are feeling and thinking. dysregulative emotional processes can be partially explained by what i have described as a lack of affective understanding and the resulting disturbed interaffectivity. stanghellini and mancini (2018) observe that relationships of borderline persons often have a traumatic character; as a result relationships are often structured according to the roles that figure in the experience of a traumatic event. thus, the oscillation among roles attributed to oneself and others culminates in a general disconnectedness: self-alienation as well as disruption of contact with others, a circumstance that is present in strong feelings of emptiness. before doing so, however, i wish to point out that the feeling of emptiness, although pervasive in borderline and a chronic condition, is not a universal phenomenon. not only is such a mismatch painful and tiring, it also exacerbates the experience of isolation. in the borderline, this typically motivates a destructive process of inquiry that can consume every aspect of relationship: is the other person perhaps not as interesting as i had thought? in fact, while mental pain is not specific to borderline, what does seem to be specific to mental pain in borderline is the great importance of feelings of worthlessness and a proneness to feeling humiliated (fertuck et al., 2016). it is easy to see how mental pain, and the irascibility and fundamental sense of vulnerability that come with it, can influence social encounters and how they are experienced. it is this difficulty that is, in my view, what triggers destructive actions and behaviors in interpersonal contexts, but is also among the factors with the most long-lasting effect with regard to the maintenance of the borderline condition. her inability to make sense of her emotional life, and of life generally, was a point of focus in the therapy. therapy with borderline patients can be demanding, as it requires the therapist to engage in emotional exchanges involving their own emotional feelings and with their personality as a whole.
i have argued that such a paradoxical experience and behavioral style is not to be interpreted as a (negative) character trait but rather as a corollary of the borderline style of experiencing the world, others, and themselves. the human extended socio-attentional field and its impairment in borderline personality disorder and in social anxiety disorder. when social inclusion is not enough: implicit expectations of extreme inclusion in borderline personality disorder. meaning-making activity in the emotional experience of borderline personalities. the specificity of mental pain in borderline personality disorder compared to depressive disorders and healthy controls. “invalidating environments and the development of borderline personality disorder,” in the oxford handbook of dialectical behaviour therapy, ed. emotion regulation difficulties and interpersonal conflict in borderline personality disorder. impairments of interpersonal functioning: empathy and intimacy in borderline personality disorder. narrative self-appropriation: embodiment, alienness, and personal responsibility in the context of borderline personality disorder. “bereavement and the meaning of profound feelings of emptiness: an existential-phenomenological analysis,” in time and body. interpersonal emotion regulation in asperger’s syndrome and borderline personality disorder. measuring the shadows: a systematic review of chronic emptiness in borderline personality disorder. experimental investigation of cognitive and affective empathy in borderline personality disorder: effects of ambiguity in multimodal social information processing. mapping the edges and the in-between: a critical analysis of borderline personality disorder. dysfunction of empathy and related processes in borderline personality disorder: a systematic review. the unbearable dispersal of being: narrativity and personal identity in borderline personality disorder. hypermentalizing as a marker of borderline personality disorder in italian adolescents: a cross-cultural replication of sharp and colleagues’ (2011) findings. “the life-worlds of persons with borderline personality disorder,” in the oxford handbook of phenomenological psychopathology, eds g. stanghellini, m. broome, a. v. fernandez, p. fusar-poli, a. raballo, and r. rosfort (oxford: oxford university press). interpersonal and emotional experiences of social interactions in borderline personality disorder. doi: 10.1521/pedi_2012_26_093 varga, s., and krueger, j. identity disturbance, feelings of emptiness, and the boundaries of the schizophrenia spectrum. the use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.
affective instability, defined as repeated, rapid, and abrupt shifts in mood, is considered the core pathology in borderline personality disorder. affective instability is a form of emotional dysregulation (koenigsberg, 2010; trull et al., 2008), and may be a key etiological and sustaining one of the characteristic and core features of the borderline condition is affective instability. this manifests itself in changing moods and, affective instability examples, affective instability examples, affective instability symptoms, affective instability vs emotional dysregulation, affective instability test.
affective instability, defined as the tendency to experience rapid and intense mood swings that are difficult to control, occurs in patients suffering from a variety of psychiatric disorders as well as in the general population . affective instability was defined in dsm-iii-r as u201cmarked shifts from baseline mood to depression, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few daysu201d (p. 347). affective instability is a complex concept with multiple dimensions. it is important to distinguish affective instability from affective lability, in dsm terminology, affective instability is considered a marked reactivity of mood. it is further specified as an intense episodic dysphoria, affective instability due to marked reactivity of mood. (e.g. intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety) usually lasting a few hours and only, affective instability adhd, affective instability bpd, affective instability bipolar disorder, affective instability treatment.
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