Decreased sensitivity to facial emotions in adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 30;200(2-3):417-21. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.03.032. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


Whereas severe relationship dysfunction in BPD is well described in adolescence, little is known about the way these patients process facial expressions of emotion. Because few data are available regarding this issue, the present study compared the sensitivity to morphed facial emotional expressions of 22 BPD female adolescents versus 22 matched controls. Participants had to identify as rapidly as possible the various emotions displayed progressively and continuously on faces. Results indicate that adolescents with BPD are less sensitive to facial expressions of anger and happiness, i.e. they require more intense facial expressions than control participants to correctly identify these two emotions. However, they did not exhibit any deficit in recognizing fully expressed emotions. These results suggest that sensitivity to facial emotions is impaired in adolescents with BPD. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Social Perception*
  • Young Adult