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Objectives: The present study investigated the specificity of autobiographical memories among depressed and non-depressed borderline patients, compared with depressed patients and controls. The influence of childhood trauma, intrusions of traumatic events, avoidance of intrusions, dissociation and depression on memory specificity was also studied.

Method: The Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT), a trauma interview and self-report measures of intrusions, avoidance, depression and dissociation were administered to 83 borderline outpatients, 26 depressed outpatients and 30 controls.

Results: Depressed borderline patients and depressed patients reported fewer specific memories than controls. Depressed patients generated fewer specific memories than non-depressed borderline patients. Neither trauma nor traumatic intrusions, avoidance of intrusions or dissociation were related to the specificity of memories. Level of depressive symptoms (BDI) was also not related, but the presence of a depression was.

Conclusion: In this large sample of outpatients with borderline personality disorder, only the subgroup with a co-morbid diagnosis of depression had trouble remembering specific events from the past. Trauma, intrusions, avoidance of intrusions and dissociation seem to be unrelated to the specificity of autobiographical memories in borderline personality disorder.