Pain assessment in self-injurious patients with borderline personality disorder using signal detection theory

Psychiatry Res. 1997 May 30;70(3):175-83. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(97)00034-6.


Signal detection theory measures of thermal responsivity were examined to determine whether differences in reported pain experienced during self-injurious behavior in female patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are explained by neurosensory factors and/or attitudinal factors (response bias). Female patients with BPD who do not experience pain during self-injury (BPD-NP group) were found to discriminate more poorly between noxious thermal stimuli of similar intensity, low P(A), than female patients with BPD who experience pain during self-injury (BPD-P group), female patients with BPD who do not have a history of self-injury (BPD-C group), and age-matched normal women. The BPD-NP group also had a higher response criterion, B (more stoical) than the BPD-C group. These findings suggest that 'analgesia' during self-injury in patients with BPD is related to both neurosensory and attitudinal/psychological abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Self Mutilation / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Signal Detection, Psychological*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Thermosensing