Disinhibition and borderline personality disorder

Joel T. Nigg, Kenneth R. Silk, Gillian Stavro, Torri Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


We review different conceptions of inhibitory control that may be relevant to the regulatory problems featured in borderline personality disorder (BPD). These conceptions have often been framed with regard to personality traits of inhibitory control, but can also be related to cognitive measures of response suppression as well as affect regulation. Reactive behavioral inhibition is relatively unstudied in relation to BPD. A substantial amount of literature links executive function problems with BPD, but that literature has not isolated executive response inhibition nor been controlled for other personality disorder symptoms of antisociality, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic symptoms. We therefore conducted a study of this question looking at BPD symptoms in an adult sample with a small number of BPD subjects and other disorders. Results indicated that symptoms of BPD were correlated with response inhibition (measured by stop signal reaction time) even after controlling for the overlap of stop inhibition with ADHD, antisociality, and other Axis II disorder symptoms. We conclude by hypothesizing discrete developmental routes to BPD, based on different mechanism breakdowns, which would be amenable to empirical investigation at the cognitive or trait level of analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1149
Number of pages21
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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