Altered state and trait disgust in borderline personality disorder

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2013 Feb;201(2):105-8. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827f64da.


Clinical experience suggests that the emotion disgust plays an important role in borderline personality disorder (BPD). We investigated 30 female patients with BPD and 30 healthy women who answered different measures of trait disgust, specifically disgust proneness, disgust sensitivity, and self-disgust. Moreover, all participants rated affective facial expressions as well as affective scenes according to perceived or elicited basic emotions. The patients with BPD reported elevated trait disgust, especially for the area of self-disgust. They also rated facial expressions of disgust as more intense than did the healthy women but only when the person who displayed this emotion was male. This sex-specific disgust bias was independent of depression and experienced sexual/physical abuse in the clinical group. Altogether, the patients with BPD showed a broad spectrum of altered disgust processes, which was positively correlated with disorder severity. Consequently, the assessment of disgust reactivity should be introduced as a diagnostic tool for this disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Austria
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors