Executive functions and social cognition in highly lethal self-injuring patients with borderline personality disorder. Academic Article uri icon

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  • Risk for potentially lethal self-injurious behavior in borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be associated with deficits in neuropsychological functions and social cognition. In particular, individuals with BPD engaging in more medically damaging self-injurious behaviors may have more severe executive function deficits and altered emotion perception as compared to patients engaging in less lethal acts. In the current study, 58 patients with BPD reporting a lifetime history of self-injurious behavior were administered neuropsychological measures of response inhibition, planning and problem-solving,and tests of facial emotion recognition and discrimination. Patients who engaged in more medically lethal self-injurious behaviors reported engaging in impulsive behaviors more frequently and displayed neuropsychological deficits in problem-solving and response inhibition. They were also less accurate in recognizing happy facial expressions and in discerning subtle differences in emotional intensity in sad facial expressions. These findings suggest that patients with BPD that engage in more physically damaging self-injurious behaviors may have greater difficulties with behavioral control and employ less efficient problem-solving strategies. Problems in facial emotion recognition and discrimination may contribute to interpersonal difficulties in patients with BPD who self-injure.


  • Williams, Gregory E
  • Daros, Alexander R
  • Graves, Bryanna
  • McMain, Shelley F
  • Links, Paul
  • Ruocco, Anthony C

publication date

  • April 2015