Self-harm behaviors across the life cycle: a pilot study of inpatients with borderline personality disorder

Compr Psychiatry. 2002 May-Jun;43(3):215-8. doi: 10.1053/comp.2002.32354.


The purpose of this study was to explore, throughout the life cycle, the prevalence of self-harm behaviors among psychiatric inpatients with and without borderline personality disorder (BPD). Psychiatric inpatients with BPD (n = 43) were compared to those without BPD (n = 40) with regard to self-reported self-harm behaviors during their lifetime. The mean number of self-harm behaviors, including high-lethal behaviors (i.e., suicide attempts, cutting oneself, overdosing), among those with BPD dramatically increased between the ages of 18 and 24 years and was sustained through ages 50 to 59 years. Non-BPD patients showed a similar pattern, but the means were notably less. These data suggest that the behavioral "burn out" theory of personality disorders does not necessarily occur among inpatients with BPD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology*