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Self and identity in borderline personality disorder: agency and mental time travel

Gold, Natalie and Kyratsous, Michalis (2017) Self and identity in borderline personality disorder: agency and mental time travel. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 23 (5). pp. 1020-1028. ISSN 1356-1294

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Identification Number: 10.1111/jep.12769


We consider how conceptions of the self and identity from the philosophical literature can help us to understand identity disturbance in borderline personality disorder (BPD). We present 3 philosophical approaches: connectedness, narrative, and agency. We show how these map on to 3 different ways in which the self can be temporally extended. The connectedness approach is dominant in philosophy, and the narrative approach has been used by psychiatry, but we argue that the lesser-known agency approach provides a promising way to theorize some aspects of identity disturbance in BPD. It relates the 2 diagnostic criteria of identity disturbance and disinhibition and is consistent with evidence of memory deficits and altered self-processing in BPD patients.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: H2020 European Research Council, Grant/ Award Number: (FP/2007‐2013)/ERC Grant Agreement n. 283849 Funding Information: We are grateful to Gareth Owen and George Szmukler for helpful discussion, to Hanna Pickard and James Thom for written comments, and to 2 anonymous reviewers for this journal who provided helpful feedback. The genesis of this paper was a commentary presented by Gold at the workshop on “Mental Disorder and Self Over Time,” held at King's College London in September 2015, about philosophical theories of the self and BPD. We wish to thank the workshop participants, whilst acknowledging that the material has evolved a lot in the collaboration with Kyratsous, with his clinical knowledge of BPD patients and MD(Res) thesis work on self over time. Gold wrote the first draft of the philosophy sections, and Kyratsous wrote the first draft of the parts on memory and self‐pathology. Gold's work on this paper was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007‐2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 283849. Publisher Copyright: © 2017 The Authors. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Copyright: Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Divisions: CPNSS
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2021 14:03
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 01:12

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