Associations between identity diffusion, Axis II disorder, and psychopathology in inpatients with borderline personality disorder

Psychopathology. 2012;45(1):15-21. doi: 10.1159/000325104. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


Background: Patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) suffer from instability in their relationships, their affectivity, and their identity. However, the associations between these dimensions are not clear. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relation between identity diffusion and psychopathology in BPD.

Methods: In the second week of inpatient treatment, 52 patients with BPD were assessed with the Inventory of Personality Organization (IPO) and questionnaires measuring general psychiatric symptoms, mood states, and negative affects (SCL-90-R, BDI, STAI, and STAXI). A median split was examined to differentiate BPD patients with high identity diffusion from those with low identity diffusion.

Results: BPD patients with high identity diffusion did not differ in their social data from BPD patients with low identity diffusion. However, BPD patients with high identity diffusion showed significantly higher levels of psychiatric symptoms, as well as higher anxiety, anger, and depression scores (p < 0.01). Moreover, they suffered more frequently from concurrent personality disorders (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: These findings indicate an association of identity diffusion with psychopathological symptoms and features of personality disorder and emphasize the clinical significance of identity diffusion for patients with BPD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / complications*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / complications
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Concept*