Focused Review ARTICLE

Front. Neurosci., 14 January 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00195

Social cognition in borderline personality disorder

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Freie Universität Berlin, Cluster of Excellence Languages of Emotion, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Department of Biological und Clinical Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena University, Jena, Germany

Many typical symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) occur within interpersonal contexts, suggesting that BPD is characterized by aberrant social cognition. While research consistently shows that BPD patients have biases in mental state attribution (e.g., evaluate others as malevolent), the research focusing on accuracy in inferring mental states (i.e., cognitive empathy) is less consistent. For complex and ecologically valid tasks in particular, emerging evidence suggests that individuals with BPD have impairments in the attribution of emotions, thoughts, and intentions of others (e.g., Preißler et al., 2010). A history of childhood trauma and co-morbid PTSD seem to be strong additional predictors for cognitive empathy deficits. Together with reduced emotional empathy and aberrant sending of social signals (e.g., expression of mixed and hard-to-read emotions), the deficits in mental state attribution might contribute to behavioral problems in BPD. Given the importance of social cognition on the part of both the sender and the recipient in maintaining interpersonal relationships and therapeutic alliance, these impairments deserve more attention.

Keywords: borderline personality disorder, social cognition, empathy, affective instability, posttraumatic stress disorder

Citation: Roepke S, Vater A, Preißler S, Heekeren HR and Dziobek I (2013) Social cognition in borderline personality disorder. Front. Neurosci. 6:195. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00195

Received: 12 July 2012; Accepted: 21 December 2012;
Published online: 14 January 2013.

Edited by:

Dominique J. De Quervain, University of Basel, Switzerland

Reviewed by:

Jill Lobbestael, Maastricht University, Netherlands
Martin Bohus, Central Institute of Mental Health, Germany

Copyright © 2013 Roepke, Vater, Preißler, Heekeren and Dziobek. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: stefan.roepke@charite.de

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