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.