Self-punishment as a regulation strategy in borderline personality disorder

J Pers Disord. 2006 Jun;20(3):232-46. doi: 10.1521/pedi.2006.20.3.232.


Studies using the Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ; Wells & Davies, 1994) suggest that the tendency to use self-punishment (e.g., shouting at oneself) in order to control unpleasant internal experiences (e.g., cognitive and emotional) is associated with psychopathology. To evaluate the role of self-punishment in borderline personality disorder (BPD), we first examined whether TCQ scales, including Self-Punishment, were different among adults with BPD (n = 31) when compared to those with other personality disorders (OPD; n = 24), elevated symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD; n = 24), and healthy controls (n = 105). Findings indicated that Self-Punishment was elevated in the BPD group relative to other groups. Next, Self-Punishment was examined as a potential mediator in the relationship between negative affectivity and BPD symptom severity in all participants. Results indicated that Self-Punishment did not mediate this relationship, but did account for significant variance in BPD symptoms over and above negative affectivity. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Punishment*
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking