People With Borderline Personality Traits Lack Empathy, Study Finds

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Mental Health News

Researchers at the University of Georgia explored how people with borderline personality traits experience difficulties in emotional regulation. The study is published in the journal Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment.

The Study

The researchers invited over 80 people with a history of borderline personality disorder (BPD) to answer a questionnaire called the Five Factor Borderline Inventory. They wanted to see if the participants displayed the characteristic borderline personality traits.

Then, fMRI scans were used to measure the brain activity of the participants as they undertook an emphatic processing task. In the task, the participants had to recognize and match emotion of faces to a situation’s context.

The Findings

The results revealed a complex relationship between empathy, borderline personality traits, high levels of neuroticism and openness, and lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness. It was found that people with BPD have reduced neural activity in the temporoparietal junction and the superior temporal sulcus, two brain regions associated with empathic processing.

This makes it difficult for them to process emotions or register how people around them are feeling. With lowered empathy, they experience unstable moods and have trouble maintaining interpersonal relationships.

One of the lead researchers, Joshua Miller, elaborated: “[That is why] BPD can make it difficult to have successful friendships and romantic relationships.”

To Know More You May Refer To

University of Georgia. (2015, August 29). Borderline personality traits linked to lowered empathy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 14, 2022 from

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