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Patterns of Interpersonal Problems in Borderline Personality Disorder

Salzer, Simone DSc*; Streeck, Ulrich MD; Jaeger, Ulrich MSc; Masuhr, Oliver MSc; Warwas, Jasmin DSc; Leichsenring, Falk DSc§; Leibing, Eric DSc*

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: February 2013 - Volume 201 - Issue 2 - p 94–98
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182532b59
Original Articles

Abstract: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a wide variety of interpersonal problems. We examined whether there are different characteristic interpersonal patterns in BPD and how these patterns are related to symptom distress and therapeutic alliance. In 228 inpatients with diagnoses of BPD, interpersonal subtypes based on the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (Horowitz et al., Inventar zur Erfassung Interpersonaler Probleme, 2000) were examined through cluster analyses. The global symptom severity and therapeutic alliance were also assessed. We identified five characteristic interpersonal patterns, which we labeled as follows: Cluster 1, “Vindictive”; Cluster 2, “Moderate Submissive”; Cluster 3, “Nonassertive”; Cluster 4, “Exploitable”; and Cluster 5, “Socially Avoidant.” The clusters differed significantly in terms of interpersonal distress, interpersonal differentiation, and severity of global symptoms. The ratings of the therapeutic alliance by therapists during treatment significantly differed between the interpersonal subtypes, and the lowest ratings for patients were in the “Socially Avoidant” cluster. Our results stress the impact of interpersonal style on the appearance and treatment of BPD.

*Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Goettingen, Germany; †Asklepios Fachklinikum Tiefenbrunn, Germany; ‡German Institute for International Educational Research, Germany; and §Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Germany.

Send reprint requests to Simone Salzer, DSc, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Georg-August-University Goettingen, von-Siebold-Str. 5, 37075 Goettingen, Germany. E-mail: ssalzer@gwdg.de.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.