Long-standing theories of borderline personality disorder (BPD) suggest that symptoms develop at least in part from childhood adversity. Emotion dysregulation may meaningfully mediate these effects. The current study examined three factors related to emotion dysregulation—alexithymia, affective lability, and impulsivity—as potential mediators of the relation between childhood adversity and BPD diagnosis in 101 individuals with BPD and 95 healthy controls. Path analysis compared three distinct models informed by the literature. Results supported a complex mediation model wherein (a) alexithymia partially mediated the relation of childhood adversity to affective lability and impulsivity; (b) affective lability mediated the relation of childhood adversity to BPD diagnosis; and (c) affective lability and impulsivity mediated the relation of alexithymia to BPD diagnosis. Findings suggest that affective lability and alexithymia are key to understanding the relationship between childhood adversity and BPD. Interventions specifically targeting affective lability, impulsivity, and alexithymia may be particularly useful for this population.
- Affective lability
- Borderline personality disorder