Affective instability: Toward an integration of neuroscience and psychological perspectives

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Affective instability is a prominent feature of a wide variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders, yet it has not been systematically studied. It encompasses a number of distinct phenomena, including: (1) frequent affective category shifts, (2) disturbances in affect intensity, (3) excessively rapid emotion rise-times, (4) delayed return to emotional baseline, (5) excessive reactivity to psychosocial cues, (6) endogenously driven, random, chaotic or rapid-cycling changes, and (7) overdramatic expression. To further clarify the construct of affective instability, this article examines the manifestations of affective instability in a range of psychiatric and neurologic disorders, reviews relevant neurobiological and psychological emotion regulatory processes, and considers the psychology of affective instability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-82
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Personality Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


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