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Borderline personality disorder symptoms and criminal justice system involvement: The roles of emotion-driven difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors and physical Aggression [2017]

Objective
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is associated with elevated risk for a variety of risky behaviors, including criminal behaviors. Yet, limited research has examined the relation of BPD to criminal justice (CJ) involvement, or the mechanisms underlying this relation.

Procedures
This study examined the role of two mechanisms, emotion-driven difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors and physical aggression, in the relation between BPD symptom severity and CJ involvement among 118 patients in residential substance abuse treatment (76% male; 62% African-American). Participants completed measures of BPD symptom severity, CJ contact, diversity of CJ charges, emotion-driven impulse control difficulties, physical aggression, and covariates (substance use severity and antisocial personality disorder symptoms).

Results
BPD symptom severity was associated with CJ contact through emotion-driven difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors, and with diversity of CJ charges through emotion-driven difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors and physical aggression; however, the indirect relations to diversity of CJ charges became non-significant when covariates were included.

Conclusions
Results highlight the important role of emotion-driven difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors in criminal behaviors among individuals with BPD symptoms, as well as the potential clinical utility of targeting this mechanism to prevent CJ involvement and/or recidivism.

Kelly E. Moore, Matthew T. Tull, Kim L. Gratz

Comprehensive Psychiatry, Volume 76, July 2017

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