Emotional responsiveness in borderline personality disorder: The role of basal hyperarousal and self-reported emotional regulation

Roberta Bortolla, Emanuela Roder, Pietro Ramella, Andrea Fossati, Cesare Maffei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study aims to test the hypothesis of biological hyperarousal and hyperreactivity underpinning the dysfunctional emotional processes of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Self-reported (quality and intensity of emotions) and physiological (respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA] and heart rate) data were collected in 14 clinical subjects with BPD and in 14 control subjects (healthy controls [HCs]), during the administration of six video clips with different emotional contents. Our findings showed a constant hyperarousal state (lower RSA) in the clinical group, supporting the hypothesis of a biological vulnerability to emotional dysregulation. BPD patients showed lower self-reported happiness in positive stimuli compared with HCs and a significant association between emotional dysregulation and physiological hyperreactivity to neutral stimuli. Our data support the hypothesis of a constant condition of physiological preparedness to threat and danger in BPD subjects. Moreover, our results highlight the influence of self-reported ability in regulating emotions in explaining BPD responses to specific emotional situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Volume207
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

Keywords

  • biological vulnerability
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • emotional dysregulation
  • emotional reactivity
  • polyvagal theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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