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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe form of personality pathology characterized by high levels of negative emotionality. Because negative emotions are so central to the clinical presentation of BPD, the issue of how people with this disorder process and experience positive emotional experiences is relatively unexplored. This chapter provides an overview of what is currently known about positive emotions and BPD. Although the literature is characterized by many inconsistencies, our review suggests that people with BPD do indeed experience positive emotions. However, their recall of positive emotional experiences appears to be reduced, perhaps because such experiences are more transient, less stable, and more likely to be quickly replaced by negative emotions. Problems with the identification and accurate differentiation of positive emotions may also play a role. Such difficulties may conspire to create a psychological world for people with BPD that is characterized by a focus on negative mood and negative emotional experiences. In addition to focusing on negative affect, we suggest that it might also be clinically beneficial to make problems with positive affect a specific clinical target.

Keywords: borderline personality disorder, positive emotion, negativity, negative affect, positive affect, positive emotion regulation

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