Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a diagnosis defined by impairments in several dynamic processes (e.g., interpersonal relating, affect regulation, behavioral control). Theories of BPD emphasize that these impairments appear in specific contexts, and emerging results confirm this view. At the same time, BPD is a complex construct that encompasses individuals with heterogeneous pathology. These features—dynamic processes, situational specificity, and individual heterogeneity—pose significant assessment challenges. In the current study, we demonstrate assessment and analytic methods that capture both between-person differences and within-person changes over time. Twenty-five participants diagnosed with BPD completed event-contingent, ambulatory assessment protocols over 21 days. We used p-technique factor analyses to identify person-specific psychological structures consistent with clinical theories of personality. Five exemplar cases are selected and presented in detail to showcase the potential utility of these methods. The presented cases’ factor structures reflect not only heterogeneity but also suggest points of convergence. The factors also demonstrated significant associations with important clinical targets (self-harm, interpersonal violence).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Applied Psychology