Borderline functioning and life trauma: a structural approach
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Hôpital Kirchberg, Luxembourg
University of Luxembourg , Luxembourg School of Finance
Lony Schiltz   

Hôpital Kirchberg, Luxembourg, 10 Rue Gabriel de Marie, L-2131 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Submission date: 2016-03-28
Final revision date: 2016-05-23
Acceptance date: 2016-05-23
Publication date: 2016-10-05
Arch Psych Psych 2016;18(2):12–21
Aim of the study:
The general aim of a multiannual research project was the exploration of the links between traumatizing biographic events and the current functioning of personality. It comprehended an exploratory study with N=206 persons suffering from exclusion and marginalization, followed by a confirmatory study with N=195 persons. We present the confirmatory results, as well as a meta-analysis of the exploratory and confirmatory study.

Subject or material and methods:
Both studies were based on an integrated quantitative and qualitative research methodology, combining a semi-structured biographic interview, psychometric scales (HADS, Index of Well-Being) and a projective test (Rotter’s Incomplete Sentences Blank). We developed original rating scales allowing passing from qualitative analysis to the use of inferential and multidimensional statistics.

With the help of non parametric statistical procedures we could draw out differential types of personality functioning based on prevalent defense mechanisms and coping strategies, either linked to a succession of traumatic events, such as neglect, maltreatment and multiple losses occurring since childhood, or either to recent catastrophes. Our results supported the traumatogenic hypothesis of borderline functioning and pointed towards a partial overlapping of the concepts of splitting and dissociation.

The discussion is about the pertinence of the results in the context of the current assimilation of borderline personality functioning with complex post-traumatic states comprising a strong dissociative component and also of the revision of categories of the DSM related to different post-traumatic syndromes.

The conclusion points to tracks for future clinical research.