Category: Criminal Justice / Forensics

PS9- #B37 - Differential Forms of Experiential Anger and Emotion Regulation Associated With Borderline and Antisocial Personality Features Within a Correctional Sample

Saturday, Nov 18
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anger / Irritability | Borderline Personality Disorder | Emotion Regulation

Although borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are diagnostically distinct, they have considerable characteristic overlap and frequently co-occur (Becker, 2000). Problematic anger, irritability, and aggression are central components of both disorders; however, diverse forms of anger and related emotions may be experienced and regulated differently depending on the primary pathology. Yet, little research exists on these potential differences, including in forensic settings where BPD and ASPD are common (Fazel & Danesh, 2002; Black et al., 2007; Black, 2010). This study explored the relation between BPD features, ASPD features, and their interaction on expressed and controlled anger, and emotion regulation difficulties in a correctional sample receiving an anger management intervention.

Participants were 30 adult male inmates held in a correctional facility in Massachusetts. The majority of men were non-white (60%), and the mean age was 30. The sample scored above the 90th percentile for BPD, ASPD, and anger compared to community samples. Upon admission to the group intervention, inmates completed the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) for borderline and antisocial personalities, the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI). A series of stepwise linear regressions were conducted to assess the prediction of anger and emotion regulation difficulties from BPD features, ASPD features, and their interaction.

Preliminary results revealed that BPD features were positively associated with anger temperament, trait anger, inward expressed anger, and an overall anger index, after controlling for ASPD features (all ps < .05). ASPD features were not significantly associated with the anger variables, while controlling for BPD features. Again controlling for the other personality disorder features, having more BPD features was associated with greater nonacceptance of emotions, difficulties with impulse control, lack of regulation strategies, and overall emotion dysregulation (all ps ≤ .01), while having more ASPD features was associated with greater difficulties engaging in goal directed behavior (p < .01). There were no significant interaction effects of ASPD and BPD features on any of the anger and emotion variables (all ps > .05).

Although anger is an important diagnostic feature of both ASPD and BPD, the results suggest that experienced anger and emotion dysregulation may be more central components of BPD than of ASPD. Clinicians working with inmates with predominate BPD may consider prioritizing treating problematic anger and emotion dysregulation, while prioritizing prosocial behaviors in inmates with predominate ASPD.

Patrick T. McGonigal

Clinical Research Assistant
Brown University
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Katherine L. Dixon-Gordon

Assistant Professor
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, Massachusetts

Samantha L. Bernecker

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Michael J. Constantino

University of Massachusetts Amherst