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Depue, R.A. Fu, Y. (2012). Modeling Borderline Personality Disorder Based on the Neurobehavioral Foundation of Major Personality Traits. Psychodyn. Psych., 40(1):131-180.

(2012). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 40(1):131-180

Modeling Borderline Personality Disorder Based on the Neurobehavioral Foundation of Major Personality Traits

Richard A. Depue and Yu Fu

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is an exceedingly complex behavioral phenomenon that is in need of conceptual clarification within a larger model of personality disorders (PDs). The association of personality traits to BPD is discussed initially as a means of introducing a dimensional personality approach to understanding BPD. While this model suggests that PDs emerge at the extremes of personality dimensions, attempts to demonstrate such an association have been empirically disappointing and conceptually unilluminating. Therefore, in this article, we attempt to extend such models by outlining the neurobehavioral systems that underlie major personality traits, and highlight the evidence that they are subject to experience-dependent modification that can be enduring through effects on genetic expression, mainly through processes known as epigenetics. It is through such processes that risk for personality disorder may be modified by experience at any point in development, but perhaps especially during early critical periods of development. We conclude by presenting a multidimensional model of PDs, in general, and BPD, in particular, that relies on the concepts developed earlier in the article. Our goal is to provide a guide for novel clinical conceptualization and assessment of PDs, as well as research on their psychobiological nature and pharmacological treatment.

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