Dissociative amnesia in dissociative disorders and borderline personality disorder: self-rating assessment in a college population

J Trauma Dissociation. 2014;15(4):477-93. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2014.902415.


Dissociative amnesia (DA) among subjects with a dissociative disorder and/or borderline personality disorder (BPD) recruited from a nonclinical population was examined. The Steinberg Dissociative Amnesia Questionnaire (SDAQ), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and the self-report screening tool of the BPD section of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV(SCID-BPD) were administered to 1,301 college students. A total of 80 participants who were diagnosed with BPD according to the clinician-administered SCID-BPD and 111 nonborderline controls were evaluated using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D) by a psychiatrist blind to diagnosis and scale scores. Internal consistency analyses and test-retest evaluations suggested that the SDAQ is a reliable instrument for the population studied. Of the participants, 20.6% reported an SDAQ score of 20 or above and impairment by DA. Those who had both dissociative disorder and BPD (n = 78) had the highest SDAQ scores. Both disorders had significant effects on the SCID-D total and amnesia scores in the variance analysis. On SDAQ scores, however, only BPD had this effect. There was a significant interaction between the 2 disorders for the SCID-D total but not for the SDAQ or SCID-D amnesia scores. BPD represented the severity of dissociation and childhood trauma in this study group. However, in contrast to the dissociative disorders, BPD was characterized by better awareness of DA in self-report. The discrepancies between self-report and clinical interview associated with BPD and dissociative disorders are discussed in the context of betrayal theory (J. J. Freyd, 1994) of BPD and perceptual theory (D. B. Beere, 2009) of dissociative disorders.

Keywords: betrayal trauma; borderline personality disorder; dissociative amnesia; self-report.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Amnesia / psychology*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey