[Shame Proneness in Borderline Personality Disorder: Critical Reflection Based on Data from the Province of Quebec].

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sante Ment Que, Volume 47, Issue 2, p.95-111 (2022)


Adult, Borderline Personality Disorder, Emotions, Humans, Psychotherapy, Quebec, Shame


<p>Objectives Shame is a painful feeling that one feels when under the impression of having committed an offence or contravened to a personal or moral standard. Shame experiences are often intense and entail a global, negative self-evaluation; persons then feel like they are bad, weak, worthless, or deserving others' contempt. Some people are more prone to shame feelings. Although shame is not listed as a diagnostic criterion of borderline personality disorder (BPD) in the DSM-5, studies suggest that shame is an important feature in individuals with BPD. The aim of this study is to garner additional data to document shame proneness in individuals presenting with borderline symptomatology in the population from the Province of Quebec. Method Overall, 646 community adults from the Province of Quebec completed online the brief version of the Borderline Symptom List (BSL-23), measuring the severity of symptoms associated with BPD from a dimensional perspective, and to the Experience of Shame Scale (ESS), measuring shame proneness in various areas of a person's life. Participants were then compared on their shame scores after they were assigned to one of the four groups based on Kleindienst et al. (2020) classification of severity of borderline symptoms: (a) none or low symptoms (n = 173), (b) mild symptoms (n = 316), (c) moderate symptoms (n = 103), or (d) high, very high or extremely high symptoms (n = 54). Results Between-group differences were found with large effect sizes in all shame areas measured by the ESS, suggesting that shame feelings tend to be greater in persons presenting more borderline traits. Conclusion Results are discussed in a clinical perspective of BPD, emphasizing the importance of having shame as a clinical target in psychotherapy with these clients. Furthermore, our results raise conceptual questions regarding how to integrate shame in the assessment and treatment of BPD.</p>

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