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The 10-year course of physically self-destructive acts reported by borderline patients and axis II comparison subjects

Authors

  • M. C. Zanarini,

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • F. R. Frankenburg,

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • D. B. Reich,

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • G. Fitzmaurice,

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • I. Weinberg,

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • J. G. Gunderson

    1. Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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Mary C. Zanarini, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.
E-mail: zanarini@mclean.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Objective:  The purpose of this paper was to determine the frequency and methods of two forms of physically self-destructive acts (i.e. self-mutilation and suicide attempts) reported by borderline patients and axis II comparison subjects over 10 years of prospective follow-up.

Method:  Two hundred and ninety borderline patients and 72 axis II comparison subjects were interviewed about their physically self-destructive acts during their index admission and at five contiguous 2-year follow-up periods.

Results:  It was found that a high percentage of borderline patients reported multiple acts and methods of each of these two forms of physically self-destructive behavior prior to their index admission. It was also found that the percentage of borderline patients reporting multiple acts and methods declined significantly over time. However, these acts remained significantly more common among borderline patients than axis II comparison subjects.

Conclusion:  The course of self-mutilation and suicide attempts among borderline patients is initially more serious and ultimately more benign than previously recognized.

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