A cross-sectional investigation of discontinuation of self-injury and normalizing pain perception in patients with borderline personality disorder

Authors

  • P. Ludäscher,

    1. Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim
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    • *

      These authors contributed equally to this article.

  • W. Greffrath,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology, Center of Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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    • *

      These authors contributed equally to this article.

  • C. Schmahl,

    1. Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim
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    • *

      These authors contributed equally to this article.

  • N. Kleindienst,

    1. Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim
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  • A. Kraus,

    1. Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim
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  • U. Baumgärtner,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology, Center of Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • W. Magerl,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology, Center of Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • R.-D. Treede,

    1. Division of Neurophysiology, Center of Biomedicine and Medical Technology Mannheim (CBTM), Medical Faculty Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
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  • M. Bohus

    1. Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim
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  • Previous presentation: Parts of the results were presented in abstract form (SOBP 2004, 2005).

Prof. Dr Martin Bohus, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine, Central Institute of Mental Health, J5, 68159 Mannheim, Germany.
E-mail: martin_bohus@web.de

Abstract

Objective:  Several studies have shown reduced pain perception in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and current self-injurious behavior (SIB). The aim of the present study was to test whether pain perception in patients with current SIB is different from that of patients who had stopped SIB, and whether pain perception of the latter group differs from healthy controls (HC).

Method:  We investigated 24 borderline patients and 24 HC. Thirteen patients showed current SIB (BPD-SIB) and 11 patients did not exhibit SIB anymore (BPD-non-SIB). Pain thresholds were assessed using thermal stimuli and laser radiant heat pulses.

Results:  We found significant linear trends for all pain measures. The BPD-SIB group was less sensitive than the BPD-non-SIB group and the latter were less sensitive than HC. The pain sensitivity negatively correlated with borderline symptom severity.

Conclusion:  The results suggest an association between the termination of SIB, decline of psychopathology and normalization of pain perception in borderline patients.

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